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Beyond The Uncanny Valley: Perturbator Interview

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“Neon glyphs flash across the alley – blinking kanji. Hues of garish pink and red emerge, language of the night. Your android partner: a deadly weapon, just like you. She’s draped in the radiance, wearing it as camouflage. A prototype: lithe, oblique, next-gen fatale. Your last faith in humanity and the only soul you can trust.

After the War Against Machines, factions of the Cult remain. Dismantling what little technological trust mankind retains.

The black church is where they recruit their fanatics. Destroy them.

A futile mission. A deadly trap. A four year descent into a sinuous labyrinth with no escape.”

So begins Peturbator’s latest journey, into the nihilistic pounding futuristic landscape, The Uncanny Valley, which was released May this year; the album’s success cementing the artist’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with on the synthwave scene. Peturbator’s (aka French synth artist James Kent) fourth full length album is a worthy follow up to highly acclaimed Dangerous Days (2014), with the last four years proving to be a busy time for Kent, since his 2012 E.P debut Night Driving Avenger.  

The Uncanny Valley pays homage to Kent’s black metal roots, not in any literal sense, but the overall tone of the album is moody, dark, and heavy. Tracks like Weapons for Children and Death Squad evoke a sense of sinister dread, contrasting perfectly with slower, hypnotic moments such as Femme Fatale (Feat. Highway Superstar) — the perfect backdrop to a sultry tech-noir setting—  or the slightly more upbeat Venger (Feat. Greta Link). Highlights of the album include the dynamic opener Neo Toyko and highly addictive She Moves Like a Knife

Diabolique Magazine were lucky enough to catch up with Peturbator for an exclusive interview, read on to find out more…
uncanny-valleyDiabolique: How would you describe Perturbator and where did the concept start life?

Perturbator:  Perturbator started out of my love for old movies, as well as video games from the 80s and the 70s and my enjoyment of metal and new wave music. The initial idea was simply to make fake movie soundtracks and recreate the atmosphere of those classic John Carpenter-esque themes. Something quite brooding and gritty. It’s something I set out to do to on my first EP (Night Driving Avenger) and LP (Terror 404), I later added more action-movie-ish elements to it (think Vince Dicola’s Transformers soundtrack for example) and sci-fi and cyberpunk elements that quickly became one of my main focuses on this project.

Diabolique: What are some are your earliest experiences with music?

Perturbator: I remember playing on my parent’s synthesizer back when I was only a kid. I later on got my first guitar around the age of 11 and played it almost everyday for hours, learning how to make covers of all my favorite bands.

Diabolique: The obvious cliche question, from where do you take your influences?

Perturbator: Well, I guess almost from everything I listen to. Mostly metal music but also new wave / cold wave type stuff. I listen to a lot of different artists sometimes from very different music styles so it’s always hard to pinpoint the ones that influenced me the most. Other than music, I would say the aesthetics of Perturbator are definitely heavily inspired by all the trash culture of the 80s and 70s. Neon drenched filthy streets full of thugs, strange cults performing weird rituals in foggy basements, this type of stuff.

Diabolique: You have a background in Black Metal, would you say that continues to influences your musical vision?

dangerous-daysPerturbator: Definitely, I would say that often the most dark and aggressive elements of my music (as well as a lot of the occult aspects of it) comes from my love for black metal music in general.

Diabolique: You are on record as saying your parents played a big part in your path to becoming a musician, can you explain the impact they had on your music?

Perturbator: My parents are music critics, aside from introducing me to a lot of artists I am now a fan of, they mostly taught me that all types of music can be enjoyed in their own rights, and that there can be good stuff in every music « genre ».

Diabolique: How would you say your music has evolved over the years?

Perturbator: Well I think I simply improved my production techniques and, over time, acquired a more in-depth knowledge of what I want to achieve on each album.

Diabolique: What would you say were some of the challenges and benefits of marketing as an independent act using internet based sources?

Perturbator: Probably the most obvious challenge would be the promotion part of it. The internet is a place where many people get the chance to showcase their talents. It’s something I really love about it but it also makes it hard to « stick out » and get noticed. Aside from that, I only see benefits to being an independent artist. Mostly the fact that I get to be close to my listeners and can literally discuss and debate with them, or answer their questions directly. There’s just more trust involved between them and I.

i-am-the-nightDiabolique: Have you had any weird fan experiences yet?

Perturbator: Not that I know of, so far most of them had been quite cool experiences to be honest. I sometimes get gifts, letters or this sort of stuff, it’s always very sweet !

Diabolique: Have there been an difficulties in adapting your act for live shows; what have your experiences been with that, and how have you found the crowd reaction?

Perturbator: Perturbator is quite a tough project to transpose into live shows, the most important part is to recreate the mood and intensity of the albums. using video projections, impressive light engineering, fog machines and all this sort of stuff. It was quite hard to make the transition from metal guitarist to electronic one-man-band, but I believe I got used to it by now. The audience seems usually very satisfied, and it motivates me to always take it one step further and make it bigger !

Diabolique: The Uncanny Valley is your most recent release, what are the concepts behind that and what can people expect? Do you have a concept for every album, and if so where to do dream them up from ?

Perturbator: Yes. “The Uncanny Valley”, in simple words, is basically about a religious cult that tries to get a hold of cutting edge technology in order to convert people to their ideology, ultimately creating a sort of « army » of fanatics. The setting is a dark, dystopian, oppressive futuristic city where machines and humans struggle to coexist, let alone live decent lives by themselves. I have concepts and themes for every album I create, as I want all of my releases to be like short stories. They’re all tied together, but you can always tell one from another. I simply take inspiration from what I see in movies, shows, video games or books I read and turn them into my own.

Diabolique: Is there anyone you would like to work with but haven’t yet?

Perturbator: Oh hell yes. Mike Patton, Chino Moreno, Pelle Ahman, Zohra Atash.. basically a lot of vocalists I really like. Also some synth-music legends like Jean Michel Jarre, or John Carpenter of course. Aside from that, just about a lot of musicians I really like, I would love and be honored to work with.

Diabolique: Finally, what have been your favourite releases this year so far from other artists?

Perturbator: This year ? I’d say « Get Lost » by Lost Souls, «  Terminal Redux »  by Vektor and Swan’s « The Glowing Man »

Check out Perturbator Official here

About Kat Ellinger

Kat Ellinger is the Editor-in-Chief of Diabolique Magazine, and the co-host of their Daughters of Darkness podcast. Her writing has appeared in the pages of Fangoria, Scream Magazine (UK) and Gothic culture magazine Carpe Nocturne. She has recently worked a number of liner notes for cult home video label Arrow Films, as well as appearing on camera for them, written for Senses of Cinema and is currently working on a book on Daughters of Darkness (1971) for the Devil's Advocates Series (Auteur).

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