Justin Sweatt represents a unique position in electronic music: exploring the darker origins and early days of the genre, which itself was in a rather dystopic time period (the late 1970s). However, he presents himself in a quite different, more goofy light: His all-digital setup consists mainly of a laptop, sequencer, and synth. Rather than being based in Berlin or Chicago, he calls Austin home. His stage name Xander Harris comes from the cult vampire comedy-drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In person, he’s notably happy and boisterous.
That helps in his appeal by drawing the attention away from him and more toward his approach. His seminal Urban Gothic not only paid homage to the giallo leanings of forerunners Goblin, but also explored the dark and horrific undercurrents that most in electronic music now ignore, all while taking a critical assessment of what brought those elements into the fore in the first place. Rather than maintaining that course, he first released a far more straightforward EP to serve as a companion piece to Neal Stephenson’s masterwork novel ‘Snow Crash’, in celebration of its 20th anniversary last year. Then he released his true follow-up, New Dark Age of Love, this year. Here, Sweatt eschewed the horror for a more bleak and dreary outlook, reflecting his personal sentiments of an uncertain future. Despite all this, he can make even the most dark elements danceable and memorable.