EDM World, Meet Perto

EDM World, Meet Perto

At just 17-years-old, Perto has proven his EDM prowess, collaborating with artists like Diplo, Timbaland and Billie Eilish. Get to know the young prodigy.

At just 17-years-old, Perto has proven his EDM prowess, collaborating with artists like Diplo, Timbaland and Billie Eilish. Get to know the young prodigy.

Text: Teddy Willson

Rupert Howarth just got his hair cut. It was the kind of haircut that takes patience. Three hours long, strips of tin foil tugging at the roots, a thousand little pieces of hair scratching at the neck. A complete cut-and-dye. But apparently, it was worth it. He now sports a head full of ashy, blonde-ish, blue-purple locks. The appointment was bitter-sweet. “My hairdresser, he’s a lovely guy named Charles,” Howarth, better known as Perto, said. “And I just found out that it’s the last time he’ll cut my hair today because he’s moving to Vancouver, and I’m really sad. It sucks, I don’t know what to do.” 

This 17 year-old—half-amused, half-distressed by the uncertain fate of his hair—is the very same boy whose bio reads, “bowl cut baby.” That bio appears on the website of his management company. The L.A.-based group boasts a roster of big-time EDM DJs including Skrillex and Zedd. And now, on the homepage of their website, right in front of those two multi-platinum artists, is the scrawly logo of Perto

The Sydney native doesn’t lead an average teenage life. Just halfway through high school, Perto traded homework and classrooms for sound systems and concert venues. Still, the young DJ lives in the same home with his parents and identical twin brother. Only so much can change when you’re still underage. 

Before Perto caught the attention of top industry players, he was just a kid enjoying good music like the rest of us. But, as many artists do, he had an ah-ha moment—one that led to a story so well-rounded and wholesome it’s almost envious. 

“I was in the car with my mom and I heard a Skrillex song on the radio and I freaked out ’cause I had never heard anything like that before,” Perto said. “From that day forward, that’s when I cracked Ableton.” 

The song was “Bangarang” and it led a young, 10-year-old Rupert to start learning the production software, eventually attending production school for a year. Still a tween, the youngster began crafting music and uploading it to Soundcloud

“I started making really, really shitty EDM like everyone does,” Perto said. “For music producers, I think that’s how most people start nowadays. I didn’t really like my music until last year.”

Perto sent those “shitty” demos to anyone he could. The producer joked that he probably even sent some to his current management company back in the day. 

Back in Sydney, Perto was seeking out local gigs, eventually landing a slot at The Wall. The fan-based nightclub with a cult following hosted the DJ’s first-ever live show. The performance went semi-viral, leading to a string of bookings. Singer and producer Enschway was Perto’s music godfather in all of this, helping the young prodigy navigate the thrilling and sometimes confusing waters of the music industry. Enschway was a recipient of one of those cold-emails that Perto sent asking for feedback. 

Years after Perto was brought onstage at a Major Lazer show for repping the group's merch, fulfilling a musical dream and perhaps igniting his love for fashion, Diplo came back to Australia. This time, Post Malone was his opening act. Naturally, Perto went to the show in Sydney. 

“I waited outside of the venue with a bunch of USBs, and Post’s team pulled up,” Perto said. “I was like, ‘oh fuck, this is probably going to be my only chance.’ So, I went up and said, ‘hey, I don’t want to bother you,’ but I handed him a USB and was like, ‘can you please give that a listen?’ Next morning, Diplo followed me on Instagram.”

Diplo, a three-time Grammy winner with five Billboard Hot 100 hits, has since worked with Perto in the studio, collaborating on a number of tracks, though there are no plans to release anything at the time. 

Earlier this year, Perto finally met the producer who inspired it all: Skrillex. The two were introduced by Diablo and Whethan—both of whom Perto frequently collaborates with—after Skrillex’s set with Boys Noize as Dog Blood at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival. 

The EDM kid-whiz had another star-studded weekend in Miami working with legendary producer Timbaland. During that week, Perto produced with anti-pop royal Billie Eilish and helped Timbaland work on content for Ludacris, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake. “It was the craziest week of my life. It was fucking insane,” Perto said. “I can’t say that there’s a record coming out, though—I don’t really know. But it was a great experience.”

Most recently, Perto collaborated with New York-based Kah-Lo for their single “Bad Maybe Good,” which dropped last Friday. The track came together in a few short hours. “I think the best records I write happen super fast,” Perto said. “It’s just a very simple idea that comes out quickly and it’s natural and it’s organic. Those are the best ideas.” The song has already been added to full rotation on triple j, one of Australia’s biggest radio stations. 

Quantity of content is no issue for the Australian DJ, who is sitting on a mountain of tracks. It’s finishing the pieces that presents the greatest challenge. He'll spend the rest of the year polishing some of these songs to be released as singles before gearing up to make an EP in 2020. The DJ is also preparing to play his first festival: Listen Out in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, alongside dance-music heavyweights like Diplo, 6lack, and ScHoolboy Q.

Big crowds don’t scare Perto. What does make him nervous, is being interviewed. “I’m not very good at talking about myself” he candidly confessed over breakfast, post-haircut. “It’s crazy for me to say that this is what I do for a living. I still don’t really believe it. I started learning how to DJ when I was 10. I fell into production and honestly, I just haven’t stopped.”

That he hasn’t. If Perto keeps sprinting down his current path to EDM stardom, then there will be many more shows, many more records and, of course, many more interviews. 

Listen to the DJ's latest single, "Bad Maybe Good," with Kah-Lo below.

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