We caught up with Aesthetic Perfections’ Daniel Graves.
Hi Daniel, how are you?
Very well, thank you. Currently packing and drinking, ready to fly back to LA after a week long vacation in Mexico.
You’re now 100% independent artist. How has the transition been from being dependent on labels to working things out on your own?
Before I say anything, I have to clarify none of this is meant to be a dig on any of the labels I’ve worked with in the past. When I started out in this business I had no idea what I was doing. They had the connections, the knowhow and the money to get me to where I am today. Bractune, Out of Line, Metropolis, I am forever indebted to them.
That said, I feel like the old industry model is dying. People just don’t consume music the way they did in the past. People don’t have the same attention span as they did in the past. We don’t eagerly await a new album release for months on end, we don’t run home once we get our hands on it and spend hours, days and weeks digesting the new songs with the booklet between our fingers, reading every word. We watch music videos on YouTube, we stream playlists on Spotify while shopping on Amazon. Music is secondary, it’s piecemeal. Why would I release music in such an archaic fashion? Why would I attempt longform art when people can’t bear to listen to more than one new song at a time? Why would I spend years writing an album and months promoting it, just to go on tour twice, have people only remember the singles and then repeat the cycle over and over again? I think there’s a better way. Labels want to continue down that same path. I want to try something new.
“I like taking risks.”
Have your feelings changed towards the current state of the music business since?
A couple years ago, I started closely following the industry and what other labels and artists were doing to adapt to this rapidly changing market. I noticed the people who were doing well weren’t making albums, they were making singles. They were focusing on making small, digestible bits of entertainment every couple months, not making full on albums every 2-3 years. They were constantly reminding people they exist, popping up in their timelines, not disappearing long enough for people to forget them. So, yes, I DO see a way forward, but I’m certain that the future is singles, not albums.
Your new single Love Like Lies has a very limited run on cassette where did the inspiration come from to go retro?
I like taking risks. Making a cassette, a dead format, seemed fitting considering how I feel about CD’s and albums. It’s a metaphor. “You industry guys insist on hanging onto this outdated piece of technology? Ok, here’s some even more outdated technology!”
We recently caught up with you on the Mesh tour in Glasgow, and it was a great set, but are there any good stories from the road?
There are always great stories from the road. But whenever people ask me to tell them, my mind blanks and I can’t think of a single one. At this point in time, the chaos of the road is commonplace for me. Half the time I can’t even recognize that the crazy shit that’s happening is actually crazy.
Post-tour seemed to offer you an epiphany into your future as Aesthetic Perfection, can you let us in?
I’m in the middle of a mid-life-crisis / mid-life-epiphany. I’m discovering how much I love what I do, and recognizing that I don’t need any sort of outside validation to justify my life choices or artistic directions. At the same time I’m also realizing I’m not invincible. I’m realizing I’m going to die. So that’s a bit of a catch 22. The clock is ticking so I’d better hurry up and get to work.
“I decided to right those perceived wrongs.”
There was some fan backlash surrounding the Blood Spills Not Far From The Wound revision under the Aesthetic Perfection moniker, and while through your art it’s clear you don’t conform to expectations, are there any regrets when you revisit old songs?
The “Blood Spills…” reboot was a chance for me to retake that album and make it part of the Aesthetic Perfection legacy. I’ve always felt that that album belonged to AP and always regretted that it didn’t quite “click” with my larger audience. I suspect it was the atrocious production and even more atrocious singing, so I decided to right those perceived wrongs. Now, I understand those who did like it feel like I’m going back and tinkering with their nostalgia, which I did, but whatever. There’s a fine line to walk between being true to the originals and completely George Lucas-ing them. I feel like I did the former and not the latter.
You recently posted on the Aesthetic Perfection Facebook page that you were considering starting a metal band. Now if you did and a metal track of yours was to be featured in a sequel to Heavy Metal 2000 what would the segment your song is part of be about?
I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve never seen Heavy Metal. One reason being is that I hate that style of animation, it’s the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me, and the other that I’m just not “in” the metal scene. I’ve been on the sidelines for years just quietly observing, never taking part. I don’t go to metal shows, I don’t know metal people, it’s sort of my best kept secret. Actually, I *did* go to a black metal show in Seattle back in June, and I felt like a fish out of water. It was incredibly unnerving.
Are there any new videos in the pipeline following The Worst Of… video series, where are you taking us to next?
I’m shooting a music video for the new single “Love Like Lies” on Thanksgiving weekend. That’s going to come out on Dec 2nd along with the single. More “Worst of…” episodes are in the works, I’m thinking Las Vegas…?