D//E Interviews: Carpenter Brut

Upon the release of his new EP, III, we had the opportunity to ask our currently favourite electronic artist a few questions about his craft. It turns out that Carpenter Brut isn’t electronic at all, he’s just human after all…

Congratulations on completing the EP trilogy. Having made quite an impact with the previous two, has the production process for EP III been any different?

Not really. I was wondering which direction to take so it just took me longer to start. The worst that can happen is to be satisfied with something that worked without pushing it further. A lot of tracks ended up in the trash, more than on the 2 first EPs. At the end, the amount of work was significantly more.

Now that the trilogy task is over, would you immediately plan something as big and in a span of so much time as that?

I don’t want to plan anything. I like to work in the moment. If the next album must be out in 2017 then so be it. Live shows are my priority now and to set them requires a lot of work. I’d like the first shows to be really cool although I know with time and work they’ll get better and better. Along with the musicians and technicians, we try to prevent anything that could go wrong. It is quite stressful and tiring so I don’t see myself with the extra pressure of writing a new album now.

Those song titles are mind-blowing! Is there a narrative behind each of them?

Yes, there is on all of them. However there won’t be videos for all. Before composing, I like to have a story in mind rather than starting from scratch. It narrows possibilities and helps me to be more precise in the tension, the atmosphere, the range of sonorities as well as the structure of the song.

March sees the release of the EP trilogy on vinyl. Are you a record collector yourself? Do you prefer physical media than digital?

I do have some vinyls at home. I don’t know how many exactly and I don’t care, I’m not a collector. I buy a record when I really like it and when I want to support a band. But since I’m lazy, I have to say that I subscribed to Spotify to avoid searching in my collection for the album I want to listen to. I have nothing against digital media and since I was not selling any music in the 90s, I don’t have the feeling of getting screwed by illegal downloading. But these days some people think that paying 10 euros to subscribe to Spotify is too expensive. What do you want me to say to that…

Is the addition of vocals a next logical step for your music?

I was surprised that some people complained about the addition of vocals on one track. As if it were forbidden by the genre. It’s also not the first time. Of course I do what I want so yes, there will be other tracks with vocals in the future. It seems so obvious to me that I don’t see any reason to justify it.

Who would you consider to be the ideal vocalists for your future work, anyone from any point in time?

There’s a lot: Chino Moreno, Maynard James Keenan, David Eugene Edwards, Kristoffer Rygg, Dave Gahan. Might take some time before it happens…

Obviously your music has very strong cinematic qualities, so I bet any fan of yours would surely like to know which films you consider as influences on your work.

Without realizing it, all the movies I saw as a kid. I could not name one precisely. When I compose, I don’t have one particular movie in mind but rather situations, clich├ęs or a city I might have seen in a movie, without knowing which on it is. That being said, I obviously have my favorites, like The Thing, which I consider a masterpiece. But I think we all have the same ones in mind, the ones that made us dream when we were kids.

Assuming by your name he’s made a great impression on you, if you had to choose between John Carpenter the director and John Carpenter the composer, what would your answer be?

I think the director. I’d say he influenced the composer and not the other way round. That dude was right on so many levels, with his “fuck the studios” rebel attitude. Everything in him inspires me. Not sure who will be able to take after him.

What does the inverted cross mean to you?

Bad guys are not always the ones you think they are.

Are you a heavy metal fan? Would you ever consider playing that kind of music in a band?

Yes, I grew up with Iron Maiden and all the NWOBHM bands, as well as Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. But I don’t want to play in a metal band, nor in a band in general actually. I like to work on my own and to compose what I want without compromising any song, video or visual.

Why do you think eighties nostalgia and this big synthwave/outrun revival movement have become so popular recently?

I have no idea. I was the first to be surprised by being labeled “synthwave,” etc., and to learn that this scene has so many major artists that I had never heard of, aside Kavinsky. I’ve already said it but I think the 80s were more fun, crazier, more fluorescent, and more extravagant. People had a blast. Now we are more or less bored. Everything looks morose or fake. I think people regain some of their youth, fun and casualness in this movement.

How would you explain the vast majority of synthwave acts having no support from any major labels?

What’s peculiar about major labels is their art to destroy by repurposing what they did not create. No major label creates anything new today. They take an artist enjoying a buzz, use him or her for 3 or 4 years and throw him in the trash when they spot a new trend to tarnish – a trend coming once again from the underground culture. Major labels benefit no one but themselves. Let them die. In my opinion, the first synthwave artist to sign onto a major label will automatically kill the genre.

It feels like the kind of music you make is better pushed by it being in films and games (Drive, The Guest, Hotline Miami) than promoted in the media. Is any scoring work in your plans?

No. I already scored the original soundtrack for “Father & Son”, a medium-length movie by the Deka Brothers, who directed the teaser for the EP ll as well as the video for Anarchy Road. Nothing else on the agenda for now.

What’s the idea behind your music videos? Who’s Silver Strain?

Silver Strain is also the boss of my first label, Black BVS Records, which no longer exists. He’s a very talented German dude who put out a lot of dark stuff and movies coming from I don’t know where. He also has a great sense of humor. I love his work. But I have to be careful not to be trapped in this style of visual. This is why I preferred to work with the Deka Brothers for Anarchy Road. So visually it will be in the vein of the EP ll teaser. Of course some people won’t be happy so I prefer to warn: don’t expect me to always do what you like ahah!

What’s the near future for Carpenter Brut like?

Shows and sleep.

What does Destroy//Exist mean to you?

Passionate people like everyone in this scene and in the underground culture in general. A small drop in the ocean but that’s only what the ocean is made of.

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