“Sometimes I even find myself doing something that I know I would have hated a few years before. I’m also not even really sure what my ‘style’ is . . . each time I start to think I know what it is, then I want to try something else.”
Peter Broderick is an extremely talented American multi-instrumentalist and singer, who grew up in the Oregon, United States. In late teens he became intertwined with the Indian folk scene in Portland, collaborating with M. Ward, Laura Gibson, Dolorean and similar musicians. Later on, he moved to Denmark, where he was working with Efterklang for many years, and afterward in Berlin, where he worked with similarly minded musicians like Nils Frahm and Greg Haines.
Now he is back in the United States for several years, but he is constantly traveling and performing all over the world. He recently released the album ‘All Together Again’, which is his musical collection of diverse ordered parts of the last decade. He started a tour in the beginning of the February, within which he will perform next week at the Elevate festival in Austrian Graz and at the Piano Day in Ljubljana at the end of March.
Hi Peter, what have you been up to recently?
Hello! Lots going on in my world… In the last few months, I have been involved in a really interesting project. There’s a musician I really love . . . one of my biggest inspirations . . . who is no longer alive. And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the surviving family of this musician, and I was given the opportunity to do some restoration work on some old tapes for a possible future release by this musician. It means I’ve been able to hear hours and hours of unreleased material by one of my heroes! And to work on that material myself, trying to get these old recordings to sound the best they can. I’m not sure yet if my work will be used in the end, but it’s been an incredible experience . . . Wish I could say more, but it’s too early!
I also just finished writing a piece of music for a local children’s orchestra here in Ireland, and tomorrow I will go and meet the kids for the first time and try to get them excited about the piece. Also just finished mixing an amazing album by my good friend David Allred, which will hopefully be released later this year. I helped my wife Brigid Mae Power on her new album which is coming out very soon. And I’ve been doing lots of preparation for all my tour dates this year. That’s just a little bit of what I’ve been up to!
Being a musician over the past decade, you gained a lot of musical knowledge. What and who would you say was the biggest influence that intrigued you to start producing music?
Well, I started to write music at a very young age. I had my first band before the age of 10, and at that time my influences would have been the grunge rock music of the 90’s, like Nirvana. Then I got more into heavier and faster stuff, more like metal and punk . . . and then in my later teenage years, I started to appreciate more quiet folk music and also some modern classical music. When I was 16 I took an after-school painting class, and the teacher would always put on music. I often asked him what he was playing, and he was so happy that someone was interested, he started giving me CDs of composers like Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass. That was a big turning point for me. And at the same time, I was getting really into some more melancholic songwriters, like Elliott Smith.
Soon I discovered some smaller names making ‘classical’ type music but with a more modern production style, and blending in electronic elements . . . people like Sylvain Chauveau and Jóhann Jóhannsson. And then when I discovered Brian Eno I was blown away by how many doors that opened . . . he has made so many different types of music. These are some of my earlier influences.
Can you describe how have you developed your music style over the years?
It’s always changing I think. Sometimes I even find myself doing something that I know I would have hated a few years before. I’m also not even really sure what my ‘style’ is . . . each time I start to think I know what it is, then I want to try something else. I know that my voice has developed a lot since I started. In the beginning, I was very shy and I sang quite softly . . . and the more I have used my voice, the more comfortable I have become with singing, and I feel I can control my voice much more now and perhaps summon more power with it.
Beside your solo work, you’ve been part of many collaboration and experimentation from Nils Frahm to M. Ward to Zooey Deschanel. What is the most interesting thing about being part of it and which one was one of your favorites?
Yes, I always seem to work with a lot of different people. And all these different people and projects inform my own musicality. Each one offers something different, and I’m grateful to have been able to create with so many great artists. One of my favorites — and I mention it because I don’t think many people know about it — was a collaboration I did with French artist Félicia Atkinson. I have followed Félicia’s work for many years . . . her music, her poetry, her visual artwork . . . these have inspired me greatly. So naturally, it was very meaningful to me when I got the chance to make some music together with her. We made a record under the name ‘La Nuit’ which was released in 2015, and I still feel very proud of this work.
Recently you released a new album ‘All Together Again‘ (Nov 2017). Can you tell us more about that project?
That record is a collection of commissioned work spanning the last 10 years. I am happy with it because it is a very diverse record, and perhaps the one record which best shows how diverse my musical interests are. I’ve been asked to make music for some interesting projects over the years, and this record brings together a bunch of work that didn’t quite fit in with any of my other records. There’s a piece written for a fashion show, one written for a ferry boat ride, a couple written for weddings, a couple of films, etc… There are instrumental pieces and vocal pieces, short songs and long songs . . . and I think it has some of the most upbeat music I’ve ever made as well.
You play various musical instruments as piano, violin, banjo, musical saw, and mandolin. Did you ever think about twisting live music with electronic and experimenting with keyboards?
Oh sure, I’ve experimented with keyboards and electronics! These days I usually have a least a couple effect pedals with me at my shows… But I’d say electronics are not my specialty. I tend to spend more time making music with acoustic instruments.
Starting a tour this Friday in Glasgow, followed by shows in Praga, Geneva, and Berlin, you’ll be also part of Piano Day in Ljubljana, Slovenia, founded by Nils Frahm. What do you think about this project?
Well, the piano is a wonderful instrument and certainly deserves its own holiday if you ask me. And it seems like a lot of people have gotten excited about this idea of ‘Piano Day’ over the last few years, so I think that’s cool!
In March you will perform at Elevate Festival in Graz. Will this be your first performance in Austria?
I have played in Vienna once or twice, but I’ve never been to Graz. Looking forward to it!
What are your plans after the tour is over?
Well, I have more work to do on this restoration project I mentioned. It will bring me back to Oregon in the summer, where I have a little studio set up. And I have some commissioned work coming up this year as well. A couple possible film scores, and one particularly exciting project for which I’ll be creating about 30-40 minutes of new music to be performed alongside some beautiful visual artwork by Brian O’Doherty. I’m also hoping to do some non-musical things this year as well. One of my favorite things to do is go out in the wilderness and collect wild plants that can be used for food and medicine, so once Spring and Summer are here, I’ll be out doing as much of that as I can.
Thank you for your time and keep up with great work!