In honor of the forthcoming release of his debut Live album titled « CARPENTERBRUTLIVE » at the end of this month, we have conducted an interview with one of the most prominent figures in the DARKSYNTH universe, the French musician CARPENTER BRUT. This sound engineer, originating from Heavy Metal, shares his unique perspective on music, explains why he created ‘No Quarter’ (his own label), discusses his collaborations with the film directors ‘Seth Ickerman,’ his involvement in the documentary ‘The Rise Of the Synths,’ and much more. Enjoy the read!
Space Master: Hello Carpenter Brut, could you present yourself to our readers who don’t know you yet?
Carpenter Brut: Hi! I will admit that I hate to introduce myself so let’s make it quick: I am Carpenter Brut, I am from nowhere and I play fun electro. I’ve been listening to metal since I’m a teen. From there, I developed an interest for sound and equipment and I became a studio and live sound engineer for metal/grindcore/hardcore bands.
Why do you choose not to say anything about yourself? Your town, your name in the official presskit, without any photos or any information on your past? Do you see your Carpenter Brut project as a new start, a new life?
I have purposely chosen to give priority to my music over my biography, my image or any other irrelevant info about myself. When I listen to music, what matters to me is the piece made by the artist; I don’t care if (s)he has a trendy haircut or graduated with honors. So Carpenter Brut is neither here to create a somehow mysterious for myself nor to get a new start but rather to remain coherent with my ideas.
How do you explain that more and more musicians coming from Metal, Black/Death Metal (Perturbator, Dance with the Dead, Elevn… yourself) end up in 80’s Electronic music style? Dark Synth/Wave as we call it.
That’s a great question. I have no idea.
You said that your principal influence is Justice (assuringly you love their version of Master of Puppets) but that you wanted to horrify the music 80’s horror films and series. But without knowing anything about Electronic music production. Do you think Carpenter Brut would exist back in 1985 without internet and music tutorials?
I actually don’t like their cover of Master Of Puppets, I guess I love the original version too much. But to answer your question, would Carpenter Brut (under a different name) be scoring original horror movie soundtracks in 1985? Or play disco? Definitely not the way it is now, but it kind of makes sense. How would Mozart have sounded like if he had lived in Seattle in 1995?
Since 2012 you released 3 EP’s of 6 tracks each. The first two on ‘BlackBvs Records’ and the last one on ‘No Quarter Prod’. Why did you chose to create your own label in a period where it’s complicated to sell one’s music? The money being in concerts and live shows rather than records sales.
I have created my own label largely to remain independent and have control over my own image and art, and I intend to keep it that way. I don’t want to sign on a label to be accountable and work under pressure to meet deadlines. Once again, this is not my idea of music. I think the best way to be turned off by your own art is to give it to someone else. With technology and tools such as Soundcloud or Bandcamp, you can deliver music directly to your fans without any intermediate. Thanks to that, you can then invest in a physical support and maybe in a live show. But to be frank, it also requires personal investment. If you want to carry your project all the way through, you will have to make some « sacrifices ». It’s part of the game. At least if it fails, you can only blame yourself; the other way is true too.
« I don’t want to sign on a label to be accountable and work under pressure to meet deadlines. Once again, this is not my idea of music. »
You’ve released a few music videos for ‘Le Perv’, ‘Anarchy Road’ but it’s ‘Turbo Killer’ which shook the whole world. How did you meet the two geniuses Seth Ickerman and why did you choose to work with them?
I’ve known Seth Ickerman when they were working on a festival trailer (Festival de l’Etrange in Tours, France). They got in touch with me to ask if they could use Hang’em All as a soundtrack. I had heard of them and I liked the way they worked, both DIY and smart. You just have to watch Kaydara’s making off to see what I mean. Those two are awesome, so it was very exciting for me to be able to work with them.
For the music video of ‘Turbo Killer’ you said you gave them ‘carte blanche’. The only thing they had to do was to give birth to certain characters you had in mind. Could you tell us how you felt when discovering the clip, two weeks before everyone else?
When I saw the video for the first time I was so thrilled. I felt like a kid opening his Christmas presents! And I couldn’t stop thinking « how the fuck did they do that? »
Do you have any information for us concerning the ‘Turbo Killer’ sequel, called ‘Blood Machines’, they’re going to release? Did you compose any new track or did they just take pre-existing ones?
They have free rein. It will be a prequel of ‘Turbo Killer’. I’m waiting for the first images to start composing since I am in charge of the soundtrack. Right now I’m composing the track that will support the video of which the short film ‘Blood Machines’ will be derived from.
We’re really desperate to see you in the documentary ‘The Rise of the Synths’ next to pioneers like College, Mitch Murder, Miami Nights ’84, Lazerhawk, Timecop 1983 but also the founder John Carpenter. You even composed the track ‘Night Stalker’ for the documentary’s compilation. How did they get in touch with you? Do you mind that the musical genre is much more popular in USA, Sweden or even Brazil rather than France?
« No man is prophet in his own land » they say. Many bands are more famous in the US than in France, and getting more and more famous there (Tahiti 80, Phoenix amongst others). To be honest, I don’t mind being more famous in France or abroad, as long as people like my music, come to the shows and have fun. Now about The Rise of The Synths, the director (Ivan) contacted me to know if I liked the idea and if I’d be interested to be part of it. I said yes because I thought it was both ambitious and bold. Clearly not the easiest project to get accepted and funded, but they were brave enough to carry it through.
NB: It’s a Spanish documentary (Ivan is from Catalonia) with American financial partners (amongst others).
Before, I used to listen to bands like Cradle Of Filth, Immortal, Dimmu Borgir or even Deicide who really achieved the satanic spirit with their album ‘Once Upon the Cross’. You said ‘I found the goat and the upside down cross very cool without wanting to leave a message’. Dumb question, but aren’t you afraid of any freaky costumer who would lodge a complaint against the store because he would’ve brought your compilation thinking it was a Black/Death Metal record? Do you think you’ll keep this artistic identity even if your music has nothing to do with satanism?
I think it’s rather unusual today to buy an album randomly without listening to it before. If on top of that you buy an album just because the cover is « cool », I bet you’re more a fashion victim who buys Metallica shirts at H&M than a true music lover. The inverted cross is a reference to Justice’s cross. By using this cross and a very metal imagery, I choose to remain in a universe that I am familiar with and avoid the usual synthwave clichés (grids, neon light typos…).
I wanted to mix two worlds that looked antagonist on the paper. Same goes for Carpenter Brut’s music.
For your live shows, you’re with a drummer and a guitarist. For a blasting experience. But you produce CB’s music alone, so why this stage choice? Other artists just come on stage with their Macbook, press play and that’s it.
There are precisely a lot of artists who do that so I wanted to offer something different. Frankly, I am not the kind of guy who can entertain a crowd behind a computer. I don’t know how to do that, I tried a couple of times at the beginning and that will never happen again. For me, a live show is not about using computers to play the same studio version tracks you can listen to at home. By having an actual band and analogic instruments, I wanted to review my studio tracks and give them more free rein live.
« I am not the kind of guy who can entertain a crowd behind a computer. I don’t know how to do that. »
If you ever went though it, what do you think of our website ‘Retro Synthwave’?
It’s a good initiative, keep up the good work!