DJ on a metal festival. No, it is not a joke. It’s a unique reality and both sides of the barricade are getting used to it. Composer of dark 80′ synth music called Perturbator is on the scene since 2012 and rapidly building his position since. The first reaction is usually a shock, but his popularity is massively rising. He is not aiming on traditional fans of electronic music and rather faces the spectrum of reactions of often conservative metal fans. In our interview which took place at first on Brutal Assault festival 2018 and later over phone we spoke not only about his latest EP New Model, but also about architecture, dark aspects of the mind and his upcoming album.
Video and photo credit: Nadan Pojer
After Brutal Assault 2018
What are your memories on Brutal Assault 2018 show? It was a proper genre shock for the audience as you played right after ambient folk icons Wardruna on the second main stage.
That was weird and cool, yeah. But I am a big fan of Wardruna. So it was great to see their set behind the stage, while I was getting ready for my own show. We had few technical difficulties, but it was more or less fine and especially people didn’t mind. I think they appreciated genre change after Wardruna. It was also great to finally play with a drummer for you guys and I believe it brought new flow of energy.
Regarding technical difficulties I remember only few “cracks”, but it was nothing significant. Was there something more from your point of view?
No, this was the main thing. There were some weird cuts somewhere. I think my soundcard just decided to f*ck me over. (Laugh) Other than that, if something like this happens it is because of bad cables. Nothing that people would have noticed though.
Your stage design went through significant change. Naturally because of the drummer, but you also included very minimalistic lights design, which look really good…
The main goal of the light show was to be impressive but still not overshadowing two musicians. It was cool before but still different, in the matter of dynamics. I am not a guitarist running all over the stage, so the light show was filling the gap. But now with a drummer it looks visual enough. So the lights are not so wild, but still trying to look impressive.
The main goal of the light show was to be impressive but still not overshadowing two musicians
I was just wondering if you are interested in design and especially in architecture? Just the other day I was on my way to Prague’s National Library of Technology for some presentation and I was passing through cold industrial matrix with EP New Model in my ears…
I do and it’s funny you are saying that. I’ve been to Russia recently and I love it there. Plus my wife is Russian. I spent some time in Russia and I would not say I am a big fan of architecture, but I do enjoy some weird aspects of it like brutalism. I am from France, so I am more familiar with different type of buildings. But in Russia there are some really weird Soviet looking structures. I really love the clash of modern and very old buildings. I also went to museums with my wife, where I saw works of architects as Yakov Chernikhov. All of these experiences had an effect on me when I was writing EP New Model.
The cover picture was taken after the video interview in the backstage of Brutal Assault festival next to the gypsy ghetto. In the middle of the photoshoot a local lady walked around with a dog and Perturbator said: “Should I take a picture with the dog?” It was a great idea, so I asked the lady: “Madam, would you be ok with this gentleman taking a picture with your dog. He is a rockstar playing at this festival behind these walls and it would look unique.” All parties agreed, including the dog.
This album has very unique effect on me. While listening to it, I can remember the darkest moments or nightmares I ever experienced. On the other hand, it all happens in a safe environment and I can dive deeper and always get some new understanding. Is there some music which has the same effect on you?
Wow. Well, I don’t usually listen to my own stuff, but if I do, I have sort of a similar feeling as you do. I can see my mindset on a particular album, as if I had a photograph in front of me. Let say on a New Model EP I was pretty angry man, when I wrote that. But when I did Dangerous Days (2014) I was in a different mindset. Same goes for The Uncanny Valley (2016) where I was enjoying the whole process as it was a real fun. I can clearly see how I felt when I wrote those. But if I take some albums that I like, I would mainly go for Ulver. Those really take me back to some real moments and emotions.
Ulver, Ulver, Ulver!
Have you already checked out their latest EP Sic Transit Gloria Mundi?
Yeah, yeah. It has been on a Bandcamp for a while. I really love it and their cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood is amazing. (Laugh) They do synth pop very well.
Their previous album The Assassination of Julius Caesar just blew my mind and I cannot get enough of it.
If I had to do a top 5 best albums of the last couple of years, it would be there! I really love this album!
Anything else from their discography you would recommend me? So far I have managed just to dig through their Perdition City album from 2000.
Yeah, this one is also one of the best in their discography, but check also Shadows of the Sun. Of course there is also their black metal debut Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler. I always admired this band because they can easily switch between genres, without making it shit. They almost become another band with each album.
If we take a look at your music taste, what is fascinating you on the dance tempo? Does it have the same effect on you as the black metal? It’s not easy to explain a connection of these two worlds to a general public.
It is really rare to find electronic acts that transcends me the way the black metal does. The nature of black metal makes it very transcendental music for me. It’s very atmospheric, organic and powerful music. Within electronics you will find more light hearted and dancy. But there are still some artists I really enjoy. I would say the main one is Lorn, who just released album called REMNANT. This is the closest thing you can get to weird transcendence in electronic music that you can find in metal or pagan music. He is an electronic musician that makes very strange and creepy music. There is also a band called HEALTH that I really like. I just made a collaboration with them recently on a single called BODY/PRISON. They are more popish I would say, but it still has aggression, which I appreciate. There is also Jon Hopkins.
On Brutal Assault we spoke about The Black Queen.
I just recently got my Infinite Games Australian edition package from my friends.
I haven’t heard it yet! How is it?
It’s great. Naturally at first there is some block, because of the love for the debut, but the connection builds up fast after multiple listens.
Those are the best ones. The ones that take time…
Another thing I wanted to talk with you about is, if you ever went to a psychotherapist? I went through some rough changes in both personal and job-wise aspects recently and your music was very helpful. Next to it I went to a psychotherapist, life coach and a lecture on dealing with stress. Each was just once but it was enough, as it helped me to get a different view. What about your experience in that field?
Yes, I have been to. A while ago. (Laugh) It didn’t really help, but its ok. I am just a type of person that always likes to deal with my own stuff in myself. Maybe I am just too proud. I don’t like to ask for a help. But you know, maybe the psychotherapist that I took was not very useful and didn’t do anything for me. I prefer to deal with the problems that I have in my head.
I prefer to deal with the problems that I have in my head
Fully understandable, but there are also other useful techniques as meditation which is not helping only me for the couple of years, but also to plenty of other musicians as Myles Kennedy (Slash, Alter Bridge), Beth Hart, Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) or Joe Duplantier (Gojira).
I haven’t done it, but the last couple of years were really fast and stressful. So, maybe I should try it.
We are getting to the end of our time, so I am just wondering how is the new album progressing and if you will be having some vocal guests?
Yes, I will. It’s not confirmed yet but the new material will be very popish. Not pop as of today’s production…
…Let say: “In the best 80’s way.”
Exactly! In a more synth pop way. It will still have a dark edge to it, as I simply cannot remove it, I think. (Laugh) But it’s shaping up slowly but surely. I have couple of tracks already and I would like to release a single as soon as possible. But what I can surely tell you, there will a vocal in each track and there will be less instrumental tracks. However, there will be plenty of ambient passages. Regarding singers I have couple of ideas and I am in talks with couple of singers that I really like, who would be down to do it. Maybe I should ask Greg Puciato maybe?
It’s worth trying! (Laugh)
I will see what I can do. (Laugh) Other than that I am doing some vocals myself, where it fits. I am not a proper singer, but I am just filling some space. (Laugh) Next to it, there will be more guitar parts. Not much as metal, but more in the style of New Order for example. Very clean guitar. Looking forward to it.
Me too. Thank for a great talk and hope to see you soon. All the best.
Thank you as well. It was a pleasure. Hope to see you too.