It feels like a musical collaboration between producer Perto and singer Banoffee was somewhat written in the stars; both artists hail from Australia but ended up making the trek to Los Angeles to pursue their music careers. It was the moment they began DM’ing one another like “little fan kids” (in Banoffee’s words) and had a chance meeting when they decided to collaborate.
The worldwide pandemic changed a lot in the music industry, but it didn’t stop either artist from conquering 2020 — so far, Perto has released two other singles and Banoffee dropped her debut album Look At Us Now Dad at the beginning of the year. Although every headline surrounding Perto mentions his age when referencing his successes, what is most important is the work he has created in that time while working with artists like Kah-Lo, Diplo, and Billie Eilish.. just to name a few. When you pair his talent with Banoffee’s ability to write lyrics that are deeply personal but are relatable across age groups, an incredible, powerful song is created.
What came from that initial meeting is I Miss You, an atmospheric, gritty pop track that explores the feelings of sadness and despair that comes when a friend is in trouble but you can’t seem to get to them. Although the song deals with heavy themes it sounds like a piercing signal, trying to cut through the darkness to someone who needs help.
We had a chat with the two artists about their collaboration on I Miss You, their songwriting process, and how they feel about the term “genre-bending.”
How did you both meet? At what point did you decide to collaborate together? PERTO: We met at an art gallery show! It was a launch to my friend Samuel Hodge’s collaboration with the label Romance Was Born. Martha performed there and our first conversation was about working together on music.
BANOFFEE: Yes! He’s correct. Although we were dm’ing like little fan kids before that. I think a friend showed me Perto’s gram and I was like “damn that kid knows how to dress!”
How would you both say your songwriting or sound has changed and developed over the last few years? PERTO: This is kind of a boring answer but I think I have just gotten better at what I do. I am still growing up so my brain tells me to start a whole new idea every 4 minutes. I embrace whatever comes to me. I could be making a whole different sound tomorrow if it felt right!
BANOFFEE: I think for me, I’ve really followed my nose in terms of genre and production. I used to have quite a soft sound and when I moved to Los Angeles I really hardened, probably because that naturally came from moving overseas and socializing in different circles. I’ve also given up the reins a little with production, this song is an example of that – I had no part in the production side of things at all which I actually really like.
2020 has been a bit of a mess, but you’ve both released incredible work this year. How has this year changed your perspective on both life and the music industry? PERTO: Thank you! As soon as I realized normal isn’t coming back anytime soon I tried to put myself in a space where I can just focus 100% of my time on writing. I was excited to be touring all through this year but I’m kinda glad that I have that to look forward to next year (hopefully). It’s been nice to just make music all the time.
BANOFFEE: HA! Yeah, same as Perto. I was excited to be touring this year, but life teaches us lessons in weird ways. My perspective on the art world has changed a lot. In some ways, I feel the least valued ever – the government gives no damns about artists in this mess. But also we are the people who are joining together the most and supporting each other even more than before. In that way it’s been encouraging and very motivating.
Artists can be incredibly influenced by the city or country they are from; how has your own cities or Australia influenced your music? PERTO: I really don’t think my music sounds “Australian” or whatever that means. I don’t think Australia really has a sound production-wise so without an accent on my song its just world music lol.
BANOFFEE: I think Los Angeles had an effect on my sound by making me more gutsy and ready to go at all times. I also feel like coming from Australia, my accent has been something I’ve learned to be proud of and use as a creative tool. It’s weird, for the first time in my life I’ve learned to cherish my accent. So living in two cities has influenced me a lot musically.
Although both of your sounds lean more towards dance & pop, I do hear a lot of other genres blended in some of your tracks. What do you guys think of the term genre-bending, and is it something that you embrace? PERTO: I feel like that term means that whatever you’re doing just doesn’t have a name yet. it’s genre-bending until it becomes just a whole new genre or sound or whatever
BANOFFEE: I hate being put into one genre so yes in that way it’s nice to be referred to as a bender of genres. Perhaps genre-blending is yummier though?
Can you both describe your songwriting process, both when you’re writing alone and also when you’re writing with other people? PERTO: My process is just to sit down and make songs; it’s not very special. But I think I write better when there are people around—other writers or just friends around makes a huge difference for me.
BANOFFEE: When I’m alone I write a lot of the songs that end up being my weirder tracks. When I’m in the room with others I’m much more likely to try and make it fun. I think the best songs are written quickly so I try and trust the first melody and then question it later. “I Miss You” was an easy song to make, which I like!
What would you say is the most difficult aspect of collaborating with others when it comes to making music? PERTO: Deciding what to order on Uber Eats is a mission usually!
BANOFFEE: I’d say that if you don’t get along with other people, shit’s gonna be weird.
I know you’ve both been in the industry for a little bit and have been in those routines of having writing session after writing session over and over. Is that something that can get quite exhausting? PERTO: Not at all! I’m excited for every session and I don’t see that changing at all.
BANOFFEE: No to be honest I love it. It’s so addictive, it’s my favorite thing to do.
What’s the story behind “I Miss You”; what’s the track inspired by? PERTO: I just made a cute beat. Martha turned it into my favorite song. she’s great.
BANOFFEE: Perto’s beat was the first thing we had, so we had good bones, to begin with. The lyrics are personal for me, they’re about watching someone in pain and how much it hurts knowing there’s nothing you can do. The name “Dana” is actually my partner’s sister, but it’s not about her, it’s just an old Irish name that I always thought would be great on a track.
You made the track at the start of quarantine, which gives the title a bit of a deeper meaning. What was it like finishing the song during the shutdown of the entire world? PERTO: Everything being shut down just made it easier for me to focus just on music honestly.
BANOFFEE: Everything being shut down for me made me able to jog to it every day which made me so eager to get it out. I think although the lockdown has been super challenging, I feel lucky to have had a project through it to pass the time.
Perto, you’ve been hailed a musical prodigy; has that term ever scared you, or is it something you embraced? It’s scary for sure. I’m cool with it as long as my age isn’t a part of the conversation.
You’re both quite independent artists; you’re both really vocal and have a very clear vision for your careers. How important is it to maintain your sense of self and your own independence as artists as your careers get bigger and bigger? BANOFFEE: I personally think there’s no point in doing anything unless you do it as yourself, purely because it’s boring, I don’t think Perto would be where he is if he’d tried to sound like another popular producer. I wanted to work with him because he was excited about making things his way. I feel the same about my own work – I wouldn’t feel any achievement if I got somewhere by faking it or bending to other’s rules.
Lastly, what do you hope people take away when they listen to your music? PERTO: Whatever they want!