It's been a long time that all of the fans of dark, electronic sounds have been waiting to see one of the music's greatest representatives live in Greece. Finally, we have the chance to see Carpenter Brut playin live in our country and we couldn't be more than happy. We had the chance to talk with him about everything, his music, his beloved visual pieces that accompany his music and actually, everything and more than we could have hoped for! Enjoy!
► I have the great pleasure to welcome Carpenter Brut to Depart. I am really glad that we have the opportunity to talk to you but enough with the flattering. We will finally be able to see you perform live in our country soon enough for the first time, in a couple of shows in Athens and Thessaloniki. Your fans have grown in numbers over the years and we are pretty excited. Are you as excited as we are to perform in Greece?
It will be the first time for me in Greece so it's always exciting. I can't wait to see how the public will react and I hope the atmosphere will be electric, haha.
► So, Carpenter Brut is an alter ego that has chosen to speak less about the person behind the music, rather than the music itself. For years you tried to remain anonymous and still you try to be out of the radar. What does this attitude mean to you and why do you prefer it that way?
Originally I didn't even want to do an interviews and let the music speak for itself. Unfortunately the business of promotion made it otherwise. Some journalists didn't play the game and gave my name. Once it's online you can't do anything else, it ends up on Wikipedia and it's over. I think it sucks and I will curse for the rest of my life the journalists who didn't respect the rules. I have the names.
► Diving now deeper into your music, you do have a past mingling in metal music, but one day Carpenter Brut was born and something changed. You devoted yourself to synth, 80s inspired electronic music and apparently you did something right because people sooner or later loved it. The, allow me to say, amazing first three Eps (entitled simply Ep I, II and III) were the beginning of that journey and were later released as “Trilogy”. It was a blast of hard hitting, dark in aesthetics and title themes songs. Did that type of sound just happened while experimenting or was it something that you were trying to achieve?
I had this in mind since the beginning of the project. It had to be dark and danceable. That was the rule. It was also something I didn't hear anywhere else. I loved Justice, I wanted to do the same thing as them but even darker. Even today I think I didn't really get to do what I had in mind from the beginning. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and I always feel that what others are doing is more like what I would like to do than what I am doing myself. But I think that's the case for a lot of artists in the beginning. And as time goes by, my technique and my compositions are getting better and better, while moving away from what I had in mind at the beginning to give something more personal in the end, but that maybe pleases some people less.
► You have stated before that you admire Justice and consider them a big influence, but I want you to uncover to us some of your many musical inspirations that may or may not be apparent in your music writing as Carpenter Brut.
My music is inspired by everything I listen to, so it's pretty large. But rather than talking about sonority I prefer to talk about feeling or emotions I feel when listening to other styles and try to import them in Carpenter Brut. That's why they are not necessarily audible. But there is as much Depeche Mode as Meshuggah in my songs haha.
I loved Justice and wanted to do the same thing as them but even darker – I was also inspired by Depeche Mode and Meshuggah
► Other than music you are also an obvious cinema fan. Starting from your stage name that comes from the greatest (action) filmmaker of all times, to the 80s horror inspired video clips that you frequently produce alongside filmmakers Silver Strain and the Seth Ickerman duo, your collaboration with the later of your soundtrack to their film Blood Machines and many more. What do you like about this aesthetic so much and how did it become an essential now, part of your work?
I grew up watching a lot of movies and they shaped my culture. I never really read books, I'm not that kind of guy. I'm more into visuals and animation. I wanted to draw when I was younger. I love Syd Mead and my dream was to create worlds like his. Only because I was lazy (and I regret it today) I never worked hard enough to go through with it, and I turned to music. So I try, through my music, to imagine myself as a film movie director.
► You also use frequently violent, horror imagery in your video clips. The criminologist in me cannot help but ask, what do you find amusing about this type of visual themes and how do you believe violent art distances itself from actual violence?
Artistic violence is chosen and not suffered, unlike real violence. It is harmless, and only graphic. It is art. Whether people like it or not, it has the right to exist as an art form. It tells something for the sake of a story that will bring out emotions and may even make people think about the human condition. The society does not need to be influenced by the violence of the movies, because it is by nature violent and murderous. These are two completely different things that have no connection between them.
► You have also written or lent your music for video game soundtracks, of the likes of Hotline Miami and the beautiful Furi. Are you a gamer yourself and if you are what type of games do you enjoy?
So I have a lot of consoles at home, and I play very little. But I love video games. It's an extraordinary thing. Young people don't realize it and that's normal, but I think there's a magic in video games. I grew up with Pong and now I play The Last Of Us 2, and in both cases I was always amazed by what I saw on the screen.
► What is most exciting then, writing music for films or video games?
I don't have enough experience in both fields to have a preference. But I think that naturally I will go towards film music.
Society does not need to be influenced by violence in movies, because it is by nature violent and murderous
► Back to the music, the absence of lyrics was actually a distinctive characteristic of your earliest works but since Leather Teeth, something changed. You never sing yourself or have ever hired a singer, but you have collaborated with many (and weirdly enough, many of my favorite) vocalists. What exactly creates the need of existence or absence of lyrics in a song for you? And why is it always someone else other than you or a main singer?
At the beginning Carpenter Brut was supposed to be an instrumental project, which didn't do concerts. And then things evolved, which is a good sign. And little by little the idea to integrate more pop elements to my music appeared. And when we talk about pop music, we talk about singing. I can't sing, I suck. And I'm not good at writing either, because I have no literary culture. So I preferred to call on people whose job it is, haha. Anyway, I didn't want to have a permanent singer in the project because it would mean that he would have to sing regularly and that I would always have the same voice on the sung songs. I prefer to change the vocals like I change my synth sounds and not feel trapped in the same sounds. You will notice that Leather Terror is very varied in sound and in singers, which gives a wide range of emotions in the end.
► As long as your musical collaborators, we’ve seen you working with Perturbator, Ulver and Kristopher Rygg, Greg Pucciato, Sylvaine, Gunship and Kvohst (Beware The Beast has been since its release one of my all time favorite songs). Why did you choose to work with them? I mean I believe the answer to this would most likely be that you like or admire them but, what does it make you like and decide to work with another artist?
I'm like everyone else, I listen to music and sometimes when I hear an artist, I think "wow it would be cool to work together" and that's it. The desire comes from there. I don't do commercial featuring like Elton John and Dua Lipa, haha. So I choose to work with them because I want to. It's not more complicated, haha.
At the beginning Carpenter Brut was suppoed to be an instrumental project which didn’t do concerts
► Would you reveal some artist names that you ‘d love to collaborate with as Carpenter Brut or even in other projects?
I would like to continue working with David Eugene Edward to continue what we did with Fab Tool. And then work again and again with Kris from Ulver because he is also a fantastic singer. Otherwise, I just go by feel. For the moment the next album should be completely instrumental, punk and electric. Anyway, I have that in mind. We'll see how it evolves, I don't plan much otherwise it depresses me, haha.
Read here: Ulver : Flowers of Evil | Album Review
► Leather Terror, your latest work that we have already embraced just came out this year. So it might be a little early, but what does the music future hold for Carpenter Brut?
I have a story, and, in theory, a musical style in mind for the next album. As I told you earlier, something inspired by punk music. I won't say more, I don't want my idea to be stolen in case it's good, haha.
My next album will be fully instrumental, punk, and electronic
► Are there any Greek artists of a similar music genre to Carpenter Brut’s music or even an entirely different one, that you have discovered and maybe even would like to share the stage with one day?
The only Greek bands I know are Rotting Christ, Aphrodite's Child (and therefore Vangelis), Septic- Flesh, Nightfall. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of things but the days are only 24 hours long, hehe.
► On that stage matter, you are the kind of artist that you create music yourself with the aid of computers, but chooses to perform alongside live musicians. Why do you think that a live performance needs live musicians instead of just you and your equipment?
Because I think that a person all alone in front of his computer or his turntables is boring. As well for the audience as for the guy haha. That's why they always have extraordinary scenography, to make up for the lack of visual interest. I did two or three shows by myself, it was shit, I hated it. So I called in two musician friends to make me feel less alone. And I think that visually we gained in efficiency and interest.
► I am wondering if the live experience for you as an artist, or music maker if you prefer, has changed over the course of the pandemic and lockdowns. Does anything feel different for you and where do you point out the differences?
It's hard to see since the covid if people will be as motivated as before to go to the concert. Everywhere in the world the reservations are down, people are more reluctant to go out I think. On the other hand, the ones who do come are really looking forward to the party. The first part of the tour, the sales were good in the end, but most of all the people were excited. But apart from the touring part, where the production costs are going up, for me nothing has changed in my way of working.
I hate being on tour and the only reason I do it, is for the fans
► Live shows now more than ever, after the huge pandemic outbreak and the social distancing, has been a great means of relief for music fans worldwide. Over here has also been a great way of dealing with the current economical crisis that we’re dealing with. We’re kinda like living inside a Carpenter film if you think about it. What does it mean for you to be on stage, responsible for aiding people forget their problems for a couple of hours? Is it a burden or something to be proud of?
I hate being on tour. Not that I hate the fans. That's the only reason I tour, because honestly it's really shitty right now. Honestly this year has been nothing but disillusionment in terms of production. Faced with the rising costs we had to cut a lot of things that were too expensive. We still managed to work, of course, but the show in the USA was not complete. It was too expensive to rent LED walls for example, so we had to do without. We also tour without backliner. The prices have exploded and we have to make budget cuts. That's how it is if we want to tour now. You add to that the fact that people go to concerts less, or because there are too many bands at the same time, they have to make choices. All this is complicated. So it's a good thing that the people who come are having fun and celebrating. I'm happy for them.
► I think that we have to conclude somehow this beautiful conversation that I truly hope has been interesting for you, so I’m leaving you with a couple of extremely specific questions and a very broad one. Your favorite John Carpenter film, the one thing that you are most excited about visiting Greece other that playing live and last but not least, anything that you may want to add or share with us.
- The Thing
- Your food
- Nothing more, I've already said too much, haha.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!
Eirini Tatsi for depart.gr