Bubbling under the surface for the past year or so, it felt like 2017 was the year synthwave made a break for the mainstream. Well… at least recognition amongst rock and metal fans. You might think electronic music has no place within the confines of riffs and blastbeats, but you’d be wrong, and Perturbator’s James Kent is channelling the inherent darkness of heavy music through his chilling and otherworldly electronics. Following sets at Hellfest, Download and Roadburn, as well as releasing new EP New Model a few months ago, the past twelve months has been big for the Parisian electrowizard.
We caught up with James aka Perturbator to talk about the highs and lows of 2017.
How has the year been for you?
“It was pretty exhausting – a lot of stuff happened for Perturbator. The American tour was particularly tiring, but still really interesting and awesome. I put out my latest EP, New Model, which is kind of a new chapter for this project. We have some music videos and some really cool stuff coming out from it soon. And, on a personal level, I just got married, so it was a year full of some really cool stuff. But I’m gonna end it by taking some time off.”
Have you noticed more 80s influence creeping into popular culture in 2017?
“I see a lot of 80s-inspired films, and series as well, I guess. This new Marvel film out at the moment, the Thor one, that has a real 80s aesthetic. There’s also the new Stranger Things. But I take some distance from this; I’m really not a fan of using this as a gimmick. I think, for an example, a film that used it very well was the new Blade Runner movie – they used it in a really elegant way. Not in a gimmicky way, I enjoyed that movie. But even in music, you can see these synths being put into everything.”
What has made you feel more positive about the world in 2017?
“There’s many things in the context of Perturbator. The reception to New Model I’ve enjoyed, people were kind of divided, but at least that means people are talking about it.”
What about the world in a less positive sense?
“In a global way, I think people have made a lot of poor choices. Politics became very funny in the wrong kind of way. The world is going to shit, but that’s not surprising.”
So, are we heading for a utopia or a dystopia in your eyes?
“Oh, definitely a dystopia! Definitely, definitely, definitely! I think we are heading further and further away from a utopia every day. Honestly.”
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Your father is the influential music journalist Nick Kent. What advice has he given you this year?
“Well, he was quite worried when I was in America during the Las Vegas massacre, we talked a lot about that, but it wasn’t really advice – he knows I’m not going to do anything fucking stupid. But as for my career, I don’t really talk to my parents that much about it, so I don’t have much input on what they think about what I do.”
What are the plans next for Perturbator?
“I will probably try and release something new next year, and also I have given myself a challenge next year to work with some bands that I really admire and enjoy. Like a collaboration, or a featuring, whatever, just working more closely with bands, it’s something I always wanted to do.”
You can read exclusive interviews with all the bands that made 2017 – from Myrkur to Satyricon to Avenged Sevenfold – in the latest issue of Metal Hammer. Buy it directly here (opens in new tab) or become a TeamRock+ member to read it right now.