The mysterious Carpenter Brut is one of the stalwarts of the synthwave scene. Over the past decade (and beyond) the French star is up there with the likes of Kavinsky, Perturbator, Gunship, and a few other big names who have never really fallen out of vogue in the technospace. The producer’s new album, Leather Terror, is pure, unrefined Carpenter Brut at its best – but with a bit of a twist. This time around it is being viewed through a movie soundtrack lens.
Carpenter Brut spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk from his home via Zoom just days before the release of his fourth full-length album.
He said of the inspiration behind the soundtrack motif: “I don’t know if you remember the Top Gun or Ghostbusters soundtracks? They were like a compilation of different bands or artists – and I wanted to do something like that with Leather Terror.”
This movie soundtrack style has bled into Carpenter Brut’s music videos, as well. The Widow Maker’s music video starred Dylan Sprouse as a deranged murderer in a gloriously gory 80’s slasher flick aesthetic.
But he wasn’t looking to make things too complicated. Carpenter Brut explained how he kept things easy to manage while producing the spooky soundtrack.
“There’s nothing serious,” he said. “Just like the old horror movies that were always… the plot was always simple. It was just a guy who was mad… and wanted to kill people [laughs].”
But, at the same time, he placed a lot of importance on the structure of the album. Carpenter Brut wanted to keep Leather Terror to 12 tracks (the number he wore when he played basketball) and felt passionate that it needed to really feel like a film’s official soundtrack.
“For the listener, it must be logical,” he said, measuring his hands in front of him. “I took the time to do something logical. Also, because it is a fake soundtrack, it should be built like a movie; with an action scene, and after that a more introspective scene, and another crime scene, and… you know – it was a balance between a lot of elements.”
Illogically, the production of Leather Terror was actually helped out by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019 Carpenter Brut firmly told his manager he was going to take a year off of touring to really focus on his music. Then… the pandemic hit, and he had almost two years of being locked indoors.
But, he noted, so too were all the great featured artists on Leather Terror. “The fact that we were in the COVID period [meant] I could reach a lot of artists because they were all at home doing nothing! So that’s why there is a lot of featuring on this album. It’s a mix between old fashioned Carpenter Brut tracks and new kinds of vibes.”
Later on, Carpenter Brut explained how he feels a “need to evolve” – insinuating he would be bored otherwise. And he attributes this constant desire to change as a part of why he’s still a main figure in the music scene.
However exciting Carpenter Brut’s new musical direction is, he has been acutely aware of some very vocal naysayers in the industry – not just to him, but some other big hitters in the industry as well.
Carpenter Brut mused: “The thing about the genre is that a lot of people consider we are still doing synthwave because we apparently ‘made’ synthwave ten years ago. And they don’t like what we do now because it’s no more synthwave!”
“But, that’s your call,” he added with a chuckle. “I did not want that. I don’t choose in which drawer you put me. That’s your opinion. I see a lot of people yelling because there is a lot of [featured artists] in my next album and they don’t like it. So, guy, no problem! Listen to my old stuff! It doesn’t disappear because the new stuff comes!”
Diving further into the concept of genre, Carpenter Brut said: “It’s just like a map or a GPS to know where things are. But it’s too… I don’t believe I’m doing synthwave. Or, if I am still doing synthwave, this is the new synthwave. The new way to follow, you know what I mean? I don’t give a s**t about that.”
The producer does sympathise with music fans, however. He said he knows how tough it can be when a band or artist changes their style. “It’s always a bit harsh for a fan,” he says. “I can understand it.”
But, ultimately, he added: “It’s just music. People, calm down. Don’t be focussed on what you hate.”
Carpenter Brut – Leather Terror is out now.