Ones To Watch: Perfume Genius

Lo-fi requiems for the soul
Perfume Genius
Mike Hadreas is a blackened angel fighting despair and regret, making music to heal himself. Rarely has the exorcism of heartbreak and pain sounded so beautiful.

Hadreas’ childhood experiences of death, abuse and addiction initially prevented, and ultimately inspired, the making of his debut album, ‘Learning’. “At first I censored myself because I was embarrassed with my voice and myself,” he tells Clash. “But, my outlook on me, and how I look, changed and I didn’t really give a shit anymore.”

A particularly turbulent period at art school in New York, which saw Hadreas spiraling into drug addiction (“I was just getting really disconnected and I got kinda lost”), sparked a life change. Hadreas moved back to his parents’ Seattle home, giving him the headspace to write and ultimately purge himself. “I guess it was a way for me to map out things that had happened to me, and the perspective I had on those things.”

The result is ‘Learning’; a debut of raw, simple beauty - harrowing yet filled with wonder. The album is tracked in chronological order starting with the very first songs Hadreas wrote - confessional piano-led hymns that sound naked and newborn. As ‘Learning’ progresses, Hadreas experiments with layers and texture with increasing confidence: “On the times I’ve listened to the album, I cringe a lot less towards the end.”

Hadreas seems genuinely bewildered at the attention Perfume Genius is getting, but is delighted to be making a connection: “I have already had a couple of kids who’ve wrote to me that they had similar things happen to them, from whatever they gleaned from the songs, and it helped them. Each of those messages was really important to me.”

Words By John Freeman

Where: Seattle, USA
What: Lo-fi requiems for the soul.
Unique Fact: As a twelve-year-old, Hadreas was obsessed with trying to make himself sneeze and would even “fashion little instruments” to help him do so.
Get 3 songs: ‘Mr Peterson’, ‘No Problem’, ‘Gay Angels’

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