Maybe you remember your first concert, but not like Perto, who attended his first show and met Diplo on his 12th birthday. Since birth, Perto has been the master of his own destiny. He was a pre-teen en route to soccer practice with Dad when radio play of Skrillex’s superhit “Bangarang” “blew my mind.” Less than a decade later, Perto would be touring with the DJ-producer around Asia. For years he scoured military surplus stores for pieces that might pass as Rick Owens’, only to be befriend by the designer’s wife and muse, designer Michèle Lamy, after sneaking into Paris Fashion Week. “God has been chill with me,” Perto chuckles of his good fortune.
More than chill, when it comes to Perto’s talent and indomitable spirit, God apparently gave with both hands. “Cracking” Ableton to moderate SoundCloud success as an adolescent, Perto booked his first show in Sydney’s nightlife mecca King Cross at 14. His fee was $150, which he spent in entirety on a local videographer to cut together the clips in the style of his DJ idols online. The crowd was no more than 50-strong, but the video of Perto’s performance reached millions — ‘people just freaked out on it,” he remembers.
“I was a child, but from the very start I was like, I’m going to do this forever,” Perto says of his early drive. “There was no transition between me being a dumb kid deciding I'm gonna be an artist. It just became a real option.”
At 16, Perto signed to a major label and dropped out of high school. He would spend the next two years as a mainstay on the Australasian festival circuit. He was recruited for studio time with the likes of Timbaland and Billie Eilish. When the pandemic hit, Perto was finally 18 and freshly situated in his first apartment; in the months that followed, he embraced a full sonic reckoning.
“I was bored and I just knew I didn’t want to do what I’d been doing anymore.”
Anonymously, he tested an entirely different sound; it quickly spread with music heads across the globe ingesting and sharing. Surpassing the success he had found as Perto, the new music deeply infiltrated the underground music community and inspired artists such as Glaive and Aldn. Unburdened by his prior success as Perto, he began to play with various production and ethereal vocals. One-by-one, his anonymous offerings rapidly found an audience.
“Before I expressed desire to do more vocals and write but I had no reason to believe I was good at it,” he says. “That little SoundCloud thing, just doing its thing gave me a lot of confidence to just be Perto.”
As soon as lockdown restrictions were lifted, Perto headed to Europe — on a mission to recover “stolen time” and complete his long-anticipated debut EP, bozo. The project offers varied inspiration, bridging garage-rock and alt-pop seamlessly. He works fast (“jester” was written and recorded in 30 minutes) but his standards are high.
“I'm not very attached to an audience. If people like it, cool, but if no one gets it, I'm still gonna do it. I think 12-year-old me probably would've thought I was cooler a couple years ago, but what I make now, I just hope my dad would be into it.