INTERVIEW: Daniel Graves of Aesthetic Perfection
It is the dawning of a new era for Industrial Pop act Aesthetic Perfection. There are many changes and new beginnings on the horizon, and SoCalMusicToday.com’s Tamara Igleheart caught up with frontman and mastermind Daniel Graves to discuss the new album he is working on, the band’s lineup change, cover songs, and his future plans for Aesthetic Perfection. Musicians are constantly faced with changes and challenges while trying to navigate through the intense world of the music industry. Lineup changes happen all the time, and members frequently drop out of bands for a variety of reasons. However, when one door closes, another opens. It is clear that Daniel Graves and Aesthetic Perfection will rise like a phoenix from ashes to the adversity of change.
Hi Daniel, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to speak with SoCalMusicToday.com! Let’s get right into it!
It seems there have been a lot of things going on in your world lately. Can you briefly explain, for those who are unaware, what’s been happening with you and Aesthetic Perfection?
It would seem that Aesthetic Perfection has ended up in a place that I never would expected. My band disintegrated before my very eyes and I’m writing another full-length album. Two things I would have thought impossible just a year ago. However, I’m actually very happy with where I am right now and optimistic about the future.
On multiple occasions, you have related to your fans that you do not wish to make another album, and that releasing singles was the route you wanted to take from here on out. What changed your mind, and made you decide to do another album after all?
I still believe that singles are the way of the future. Physical media is a novelty these days and most people don’t have the time or attention spans to digest more than one new song at a time. That said, my fans have been quite relentless in their demand for a new record, and I like a challenge. I see it as an artistic experiment. I must admit, it’s been a lot of fun.
What does your writing process involve?
Translating the swirling chaos in my brain into words and notes. I don’t have a specific process. I go with whatever inspires me. A drum beat, a vocal melody, a guitar riff… I try not to limit myself and just allow the music to take me where it wants me to go.
With every release, you’ve been moving toward a different sound than that of your previous albums and singles. Albums like A Violent Emotion and All Beauty Destroyed definitely have a heavier sound to them, as compared to the newest single, Ebb and Flow. Although this was (seemingly) deliberate, do you think Aesthetic Perfection fans may hear some of the old sound again in the future?
I don’t think the way forward for any artist is to attempt to recreate the past. That’s why this whole neo-retro movement doesn’t resonate with me. I’m constantly looking for the next step in the evolution of my music. If you’re asking if I’ll ever make heavy music again, the answer is “certainly”. However, it won’t sound anything like what I’ve done before.
What does Industrial Pop mean to you, and what is your goal in creating your own unique sound in an ordinary, unoriginal industry?
Industrial music was created to be a voice of rebellion; a means of lashing out against the status quo. It’s ironic that a scene with such rebellious roots would grow into something so stagnant and predictable. I think that’s partly due to the fact that society has grown up a bit, it’s much more inclusive, so stuff that was shocking and edgy 20 years ago is commonplace today. Having tattoos and wearing tons of makeup isn’t shocking anyone these days. Ironically, the one thing that *is* shocking to the underground right now is embracing mainstream influences (which just so happens to be something I love). I’m hoping to rattle the cage a bit.
Obviously, everyone involved was upset by Tim Van Horn’s departure from Aesthetic Perfection. Have you started looking for a replacement? Can you discuss what your next moves are since he left?
Aesthetic Perfection always has, and always will be, a solo project. It’s my vision; my creation. As devastating as the loss of Tim was, it doesn’t affect the future of the project. I think of it as a roadblock. It’s something to learn and grow from, but most certainly not the end. I love Tim like a brother and wish him the best in whatever his life brings him. I’m currently looking for a replacement so hit me with your resumés!
When you announced that Aesthetic Perfection would have to cancel the North American tour with Covenant and Grendel, you said you hoped to get back out on tour soon. Do you still expect that to happen later this year?
Beyond the 4 European festival shows we have booked for this summer, there won’t be any more gigs in 2018. I’ve decided to dedicate myself to the new record and not get distracted with live performances. I’m super grateful for my Patreon patrons whose support has made that possible. I’m not used to having the luxury of focusing on one thing for an extended period of time as the nature of the music business basically demands that artists be constantly on the road to pay the rent. That said, I’m in the process of booking a North American Tour for 2019. I feel like I’m a caterpillar retreating to the cocoon for a period of time to emerge again as something entirely different. I’ll be back with a new album, new band and new show next year. 2019 will be a whole new chapter for Aesthetic Perfection.
On a lighter note, I must say that I, for one, really enjoy the cover songs you have released. Do you have plans to do any more? (If you take requests I would love to hear your take on a Lady Gaga song! You’re both so wonderful!)
That’s very kind! I’m glad people enjoy the covers and remixes. It’s a great way to get out of your own head and just have fun; if only for a brief moment. There will almost certainly be more covers and remixes in the future, but there are only so many hours in a day and I’m only one man. Don’t you worry, though! I’ve got a couple ridiculous ideas bouncing around in my brain.
One of the most commendable qualities you possess amidst today’s music industry is that you are 100% independent. What are your reasons for remaining free of mangers and labels, and what role (if any) do your fans play in this?
As I mention in my “10 Commandments” YouTube video, no one is going to care about your art as much as you do. No manager. No label. No friends. No family. No one. You have to be the person making it happen. Industry folk have their uses, but they’re only in it for the money. I’m lucky to be blessed with incredibly supportive fans who care deeply about my work and want to help me succeed. Thanks to them I don’t need to mingle with the industry. They allow me to exist in my own vacuum that’s totally independent. It’s given me a profound sense of gratitude and dedication.
I think it’s safe to say that your fans will stick with you through all of the changes that have been happening lately. Speaking to you as a fan myself, it’s great that you’re so accessible to them. Do you think more musicians could benefit from being more accessible to their fans?
I think we could all benefit from a bit more humility in our lives. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it actually makes personal interactions easier! No one wants to deal with an entitled ego-maniac. When you’re down-to-earth and humble it makes people want to help you and engage with you. I feel like once I shed that stupid sense of entitlement that was dragging me down all those years it not only made me a better person, it helped my career! My social media engagement? Up. Concert turnouts? Up. Merchandise sales? Up! These are measurable, real world results that have come, at least in part, from a slight tweak in my behavior.
If you could go back in time, what is something you would tell your former self?
If I could go back in time I’d tell myself to start working harder sooner. I’d tell myself not to worry so much about what other people think. I’d tell myself to stop holding onto all that negativity and channel it all into music. I probably wouldn’t have listened, though.
What are a couple of your pet peeves?
I hate when people bite their nails. I hate when people use their finger instead of a knife to maneuver food onto a fork. I hate when people are impolite. I hate when people leave their grocery carts in the middle of the parking lot. Biggest pet peeve of all is when people block intersections during rush hour!
Who are your biggest pop influences?
Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Hands down.
Any other plans for Aesthetic Perfection or yourself coming up this year that you can elaborate on?
Oh boy, do I have to do more in addition to my album and rebuilding my band!? I dunno if I can stretch myself so thin! Ha.
Thank you so much again for speaking with me, and I wish you the best!