'Til Death is industrial act Aesthetic Perfection's crossover album, the one intended as much for the kids wearing neon as the kids wearing black PVC. It has strains of Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails' early work. It hits the streets on February 11 through Metropolis Records.
Daniel Graves, who launched the Aesthetic Perfection project when he was still a teenager, came up in L.A.'s tight knit industrial scene.
He cut his teeth playing spots like Perversion, a dance club that rarely held live performances, as well as Das Bunker. (Once a fan came bearing a live goat as a gift; he and some friends took the goat – who was saved from a slaughterhouse – to a no-kill farm animal shelter.)
Then, while still in his early 20s, Graves left for Berlin and later settled in Salzburg, Austria. After a seven-year stint in Europe, he returned to Los Angeles in late 2012, where he now resides. We caught up with him by phone.
]Your music has been played a lot at industrial clubs in L.A. Was that scene part of your own development as a musician?
Yeah, of course. The environment that we're raised in influences our creative output heavily. I think around 16 or so, I got myself a fake ID and started going out to L.A., going to clubs like Perversion and Nocturne. It was really surreal, seeing that this music that I had grown up listening to got played at clubs and that people danced to it. There was this whole fashion, this whole kind of world that I didn't even know existed up until that point. I really, really got into it. I'm definitely influenced by the people and the music that was going on at the clubs at that time.
I started going to Perversion and giving my demos to the various DJs. One of them liked it and decided, ok, I'm going to show you how to do this. If it weren't for L.A. clubs and DJ Bractune, I probably never would have gotten out of Redlands.
How did you end up living in Berlin?
After my first album came out in 2005 – I'm trying to think of the best way to articulate it – my life was kind of a giant mess. I was really, really unhappy. I didn't know what I was doing. I was living in Hollywood and I was broke. It kind of felt like things were going well for me musically in Europe and things were going just atrociously for me here. I was like, ok, I'll just follow the music.
I left my apartment. I stayed at my job for just a couple months so that I could save up as much money as I could. I blindly moved to Berlin. I ended up staying in Europe for seven years. My year-long excursion lasted seven years.
How did that help your career?
It's really funny because I moved out there when I was doing a lot better in Europe than I was Stateside. Then I put out my second album, which picked up and just took off in the U.S. and was much more of a slow burn in Europe. I found myself living over there, having to fly to the U.S. all the time to tour.
I think it really helped because the German scene is run really differently than the U.S. It's much more of a, I don't want to say corporate, but it's much more business-oriented, with a lot of people working less for the passion of the music and more for the money. It's like Business 101, I guess. That was really helpful, being around all these business-savvy type people.
One thing that's said about L.A. is that they might not support the locals, but when an out of town band comes in, everyone shows up. Is that the case when you're a local who moves to another country?
Yes, 100%. I played a good number of L.A. shows before I moved abroad. I had fans. Some people showed up. Some people were enthusiastic, but, it was only after I had left and had some modicum of success somewhere else that I came back and all of a sudden, everyone here loved me. It was a really weird experience. When I was living here, my whole personal life was in shambles. I really didn't have a lot of friends and not a lot of people were friendly to me. It was really awkward, coming back and now everybody is my friend. It definitely throws you through a loop.
What brought you back to L.A.?
I only ended up staying in Berlin for one year. Then I moved to Salzburg, Austria, which is the home of Mozart and all that stuff. I moved in with a lady. We didn't make any plans to return to L.A. It happened that this lady, who is my wife now, got a job here in L.A., so we said ok. I can do my work anywhere. I'm usually working from a computer and it doesn't matter if I'm in L.A. or Zimbabwe. It was kind of the luck of the draw that my wife, who is a professional scientist, got a job in L.A.
Aesthetic Perfection will release 'Til Death on February 11 through Metropolis Records.