PREMIERE: Perfect World – “Prepper Who Was Right”

Post Author: Kelly Kerrigan

Rising Los Angeles musician & filmmaker talks song craft & influences on magnificent new single

Los Angeles’ Nathan Castiel, known as Perfect World, forages sounds and scenes from his favorite movies and musicians to layer and craft his music in his own direction. 

His newest single, “Prepper Who Was Right,” leans into the tales of TV show “Doomsday Preppers” (i.e., people who spend their lives preparing for the end of the world), and imagines the feelings evoked should they end up right in their assembling. He leans into the California alternative wistfulness of the 90s, citing “Prepper Who Was Right” as a mix between Elliott Smith and Sugar Ray.

Impose sat down with Perfect World to learn more about his newest single, upcoming music, and his dual passions for music and film.

I know this song was inspired by a TV show Doomsday Preppers from National Geographic. I presume the show is about preparing for the end of the world – but what specifically inspired you to make “Prepper Who Was Right” and what in your own experiences inspired you to make an ode to the preppers?

I discovered Doomsday Preppers in a gross Midwest motel and was instantly hooked. I love how their beliefs run the political and spiritual gamut but they all agree on one thing: the apocalypse is happening soon and I must be ready. Imagine the world ending and that feeling of satisfaction upon realizing that your paranoia was valid. Like the ultimate “I told you so.” The song is a self-reflective exploration of some of those darker human impulses. Also I just wanted to fit the world schadenfreude into a pop chorus.  

Talk about your choice in instruments and production on this track and where you started. 

The track started as a demo I recorded on my 4-track Portastudio, which I kept intact as the song’s intro. I wanted to contrast that intimate and lo-fi moment with shimmery production that evoked the fun and ease of late ’90s pop. I started with layers of drum samples and jangly acoustics before enlisting my friend Jeremy McLennan to co-produce. We kept it minimal – adding Mellotron, tremolo’d electric, scratching/vocal chops, and bass guitar by Marcus Hogsta.

In your references you list Elliott Smith and Sugar Ray which is a radical combination of influences. In what moments do you find these influences in this track?

I hope the song lives right at the center of the Elliott Smith to Sugar Ray spectrum. I’ve always been most drawn to songwriters like Mark Linkous, Arthur Russell, and David Berman. So the sadness is ingrained. But I’m also a poptimist and have an affinity for breezy late ’90s hits – especially OMC’s “How Bizarre”.

You’re the powerhouse behind Perfect World; writing, performing, producing, and creative directing the project. What do you find in working and creating in solitude that creates your “perfect world”? 

I’ve always been most comfortable making music in solitude. Probably because I’m a control freak with limited technical knowledge! But also because it’s a good respite from the super collaborative world of film. I love experimenting with different structures and styles and world building with song. This track is a bit of an outlier since I brought on Jeremy to co-produce at his home studio in New York. It was a great experience and definitely fits into my perfect “Perfect World” world.

I know that you’re both a musician and filmmaker, and this track was inspired by something you watched on TV. Do you find there to be a symbiosis in making music and something visual and where have you found your skills as a director and a musician intersect?

For me making music and making film have always gone hand in hand. They’re both means of telling a story or communicating a feeling. I love to bounce between them – working on a film project for a couple of weeks and then shifting to music. It keeps my ADHD brain from getting too bored. There’s for sure a symbiosis between the two and I often find my latest video project inspiring my next song and vice versa.

If there is a record to come, please feel free to discuss and say any forthcoming things for listeners to keep an eye out for! 

Yes! I have another single coming out this fall and the debut Perfect World record coming out early next year. That’ll be followed by full band live shows. I originally planned to play live this summer but decided to wait on account of a long-form film project I’m working on. More on that later 😉