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Interview with Peter Broderick

img  Tobias Fischer

How does one become a session musician?
Ha, that’s a good question! I think I always imagined that all session musicians are absolute top-notch players who walk into the studio, lay down their parts with their eyes closed, and then leave. But I think I just got lucky. I had a friend who had a friend that owned a recording studio, and tons of instruments I’d been collecting, although most of them I could only play a few notes on ... But eventually, word got around town that I played all these different instruments, and would record pretty much any time for any price. So I started getting more calls from different musicians and different studios. That’s how it happened for me.

What was the music scene in Portland like when you started out?

I wish I could tell you that, but I don’t feel like I had a good idea of the overall music scene while I was there. I circulated in a relatively small - but big enough and always growing - group of more folky musicians. So I missed out on a lot of other things going on at the time. I can say, I really didn’t meet many people there who were into more ambient and experimental music, but maybe that’s just because all my friends were folk musicians.

If people booked you for their sessions, would they regularly ask you to play parts on several instruments?
On an average session for me in Portland back in those days, I would load up my car with a pile of instruments. Violin, viola, mandolin, banjo, musical saw, accordion, lap steel, whatever else ... And then I’d show up at the studio and play whichever ones they wanted.

What was the experience like?

I see it as a very positive thing. I think it’s an honor to play on all those other people’s records. And even if sometimes it took away from my own personal time, I think that only made me more anxious to do my own things. So when I finally did get the chance, I was full of ideas and motivation.

If the Efterklang connection hadn't been made, do you think you'd have continued as a session musician for a while?
I think that’s very possible. I certainly think I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help of Efterklang. They brought me over here to Europe and gave me the chance to open as a solo act at their shows, and that really helped get things going for me. I think if I had stayed in Portland this whole time, I’d still be trying to make my own music, but I’d probably be struggling with it a lot more. Struggling to get inspired and maybe struggling to get the music heard.

How much did „your own thing“ benefit from your work as a session musician?

Well, I think it’s always great to collaborate with other artists, because it almost always pushes me to try something I haven’t tried before, or even thought of before. But when it comes to my own music and compositions, I’m not sure if I bring much of my session work into them. Then again, working as a session musician definitely helped me develop a little bit of confidence on some instruments. When you’re put on the spot like that, and you have to come up with something, it can be stressful ... And over time it slowly gets easier and easier, and depending on the instrument and the music, sometimes nowadays I might not even think about it at all. I just start playing. So for better or worse, I’m slowly learning to trust my own musicianship.

It seems as though playing in the same room with someone is still the purest and most important form of musical communication to you.
Emails, SMS, letters, phonecalls, skype, you-name-it, those are all great ways to communicate, and I use them all. But being together, in person, is something different all together. I hope we can all agree that when you’re not in person, there at the same time, things get lost. Little things, big things, all kinds of things. And maybe if you know someone really well - which most likely you know them well from spending a lot of time in person - then it doesn’t matter ... Anyhow, I guess what I’m trying to say is that making music together over email can be very fun and rewarding, but it simply can’t be compared to making music together in the same space. It’s like night and day to me. And I think most anyone who has met Rutger or the guys from Efterklang, would say they are wonderful, kind, warm people. So making music with them in person is absolutely wonderful!

Even if, as with Rutger, your approaches significantly differ from each other?

I’ve been a big fan of Rutger’s work over the last few years, and one of the things that has really intrigued me is that there’s something in his process, in his work, that I genuinely do not understand. And at the same time, he presents everything he does with unique and simple visual style, and when you look at all of his work as one big thing, I think it’s hard not to be fascinated! To put it simply, I think my ears are listening more to the melody and harmonies (the MUSIC), and Rutger’s ears are listening more to the SOUND. I am a musician, Rutger is a sound sculptor, and a very good one at that! But over the last years I’ve started to get more and more into sound itself, which also makes Rutger’s work become more and more rich, as my ears develop.

To me, a lot of your work sounds very direct, immediate and actually quite spontaneous, as detailed as it may be. Are you satisfied or rather annoyed when reviews call your work „,mature“?

I’m neither satisfied nor annoyed if someone calls my work mature. But you’re very right to assume my music to be spontaneous. More often than not, I record the first thing that pops into my head, whether it be a simple melody or just the idea to improvise in a particular section. And I think this connects back to same principle of playing many instruments rather than focusing on one. If I had more patience, I’d probably focus on each melody and sound a little longer. But instead, I’m too eager to try out all the different ideas in my head. I get them all out as quickly as I can, so I can see if it sounds as great as I imagined it to sound. That said, there are also times when I work hard on a single melody, and times when I work harder on one specific instrument. But more often my approach is spontaneous.

By Tobias Fischer

Peter Broderick Discography

Docile (Kning Disk) 2007   
Home (Type) 2008   
Float (Type) 2008   
PMT#53 Sketches And Oddities (Play My Tape) 2008   
4 Track Songs (Type) 2009   
Blank Grey Canvas Sky/ w. Machinefabriek (Fang Bomb) 2009   
Music For A Sleeping Sculpture Of Peter Broderick (Slaapwel Records) 2009   
Music For Falling From Trees (Erased Tapes Records) 2009   
Ten Duets (Digitalis Limited)    2009   
How They Are (Bella Union) 2010
Three Film Score Intakes (Schedios Records) 2010
Re:Create Series Vol. 1/ w. Johan G Winther (A Tenderversion)    2010
Music For Contemporary Dance (Erased Tapes Records) 2010       
Rèplica/ w. Rauelsson (Hush Records, Borne) 2011   
Glimmer/ w. Takumi Uesaka (Cote Labo) 2011


Peter Broderick

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