Peter Broderick – multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, but, above all, talented man whose not afraid of experiments. Although he come from USA, for six years he made Europe his home. There he collaborated with many different artists but is mostly known for touring with Danish band Efterklang. In Krakow’s club Lizard King he told me about benefits from working abroad, differences between Europe and USA, new project with Greg Haines and what is he really looking for in music.
musicis.pl: We’re meeting here for Off Plus Camera, it’s an international festival of independent cinema. I know that you have experience in making film scores. How important, according to you, is soundtrack for a movie as a whole piece?
Peter Broderick: For some films I would say it’s very, very important. Funny thing is, a lot of the time, unless you’re a musician, you might not even notice the music in the film. It’s just kind of this thing that adds to the atmosphere, adds to the mood of the film and actually, hopefully, you shouldn’t really notice it too much. It should be more about the image and dialog. Sometimes there are moments when the music really shines but it’s never really about the music. It’s about the whole, the music combined with the picture. I think it’s very important, but I’ve also seen great films that have little or no music.
musicis.pl: Films or cinema in general, does it have any particular influence on your creative process?
Peter Broderick: Absolutely. I mean, actually before I became like a professional musician I wanted to potentially be a filmmaker. I studied film in Oregon where I’m from. I was taking classes in digital video, Super 8 film and also 16mm cinematography. I made a lot of short films of my own at that time so it’s kind of how I started really.
musicis.pl: Are there any particular titles that had great impact on you?
Peter Broderick: Yes, there is a film from Iceland called Noi Albinoi. Images are just beautiful. It’s shot in this little village in Iceland, there is a lot of snow and mountains. It’s my particular sense of humour, it’s kind of this dark, dark humour . Also what really struck me about that film was that the director made the music for it, which is very rare. It’s the only time I had ever seen that, and that was what I was doing at that time. I was making films and also making the music for them, so this combination really blew me away.
musicis.pl: You chose Scandinavia, Europe, as a place to work for quite a long time. According to you, are there more similarities or differences between Europe and USA in attitude to music?
Peter Broderick: It’s funny because you say I chose Europe, but I feel more that Europe chose me. I got an invitation from band in Denmark [Efterklang] to come and play with them. We had just got to know each other through the internet, through MySpace. This was not something I expected and not something I was really aiming for at that time. Of course it was a dream of mine to come to Europe and play music. I was already listening to a lot of music that came from Europe, so I had this dream of getting over there one day and all of the sudden I was just there, doing it.
It’s hard to say what exactly the differences are because I just got really lucky and got pushed into this situation in which everything was working already. I didn’t have to work for it too hard myself. But there are crucial differences. Like in Europe there is in most countries government funding for the arts which makes it much more possible for people to pay musicians to play concerts and put on great cultural events. In America that just doesn’t happen. There are also people who say that it’s a good thing in America because it pushes artist to have to do it themselves. There is plus and minus to both sides. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. I definitely very much appreciate the way it works over here with more support for the arts. Otherwise I would not have made a living for the last six years.
musicis.pl: Now that you’re back in Oregon and you look with that perspective on years that you spent in Europe, what do you think was the greatest benefit of working on our continent?
Peter Broderick: Getting that perspective, I think, was the greatest benefit. Now that I move back to America I see that place in a whole new way and this goes much beyond music. It goes more into my personal life and the way I interact with people. I really feel so thankful that I had that opportunity to go away for a while and get that perspective. I actually thought for a long time that I would never move back to America. But sometime last year I started to just wish I could be closer to my family and I went there to try it out. It felt good so I went back there. I feel like I see it with whole new eyes and not even really particular things it’s more like the general feeling of having seen more what’s out there.
musicis.pl: Surprisingly for your young age, you’ve already made loads of different collaborations. When you’re making a decision to engage in new project, are you hesitating and think a lot about it or just go on impulse?
Peter Broderick: I would say I’m much more impulsive than thinking about things. I tend to try to think about things as little as possible because I have experience where I did think about things and that didn’t necessarily help me once I actually started the project. If I agree to collaborate with somebody, I try to not really start working on it until we’re in the same room together. In some cases we don’t get the chance to be in the same room, they send me something over the internet. Even with that I try more and more to only do collaborations in person, because this thing of sending files back and forth it’s not my favourite way of working. There’s so much more room for miscommunication. They don’t see what you’ve actually done, they just get this one piece of it, so often it takes a lot longer to actually get to this base when you both see it in the same way.
musicis.pl: About your most recent collaboration with Greg Haines, Greg Gives Peter Space, how did you come up with an idea? Because your atmospheric sound and dub, electronic background from Greg is a really electrifying combination.
Peter Broderick: We are so thrilled that we finally managed to finish something. Greg, when I lived in Berlin for three years, became one of my best friends there. We started to work on music together but mostly we were just hanging out, listening to music and going out to concerts together. We did work on quite a lot of stuff but we were never really able to finish anything until I moved back to America. All of the sudden, when I come to visit him, we make better use of our time because it’s limited now. Now I make some trips back to visit Berlin and we’re working much quicker. We’re both really excited about that project.
musicis.pl: How long are you planing to tour with it, because I know there are some concerts coming.
Peter Broderick: Well, it’s tricky because we both have so much of our own things going on so, we’re trying to do as much as we can. In June we have seven concerts. We actually wanted to make it to Poland but all the clubs were booked up already. We did this thing very quickly. We finished it, send it to a record label, and they were like yeah, we wanna release this and we were like OK let’s do it in June!. So when we tried to start looking for some shows most of the clubs were already booked up for that time. That’s it for Europe for now. Then hopefully Greg is coming to America in September and we play some shows on the West Coast of America and then we’ll see. We wanna keep collaborating, because this record is quite short, it’s like six songs. We would like to keep working on maybe a full-length album and see what happens.
musicis.pl: What’s quite interesting, you’re keeping your internet website really up to date. The part where you encourage people to send you questions and you answer to it, sometimes even with a short song, it’s amazing. What do you think artists can gain by keeping close contact with the public?
Peter Broderick: I feel like I do that because it’s more interesting for me that way. When I’m making music I start off with an idea and that’s my own personal experience but once you release and album it’s not mine anymore, it’s for other people. It doesn’t even make me feel much anymore at that point, I’ve already had such intense creative moments with it and it passed. It’s now for everyone else. Those people are responsible for making me be able to live this way so I’m very consciously trying not to forget that and to push that interaction as much as I can.
musicis.pl: I’m asking because some artists tend to build up a wall dividing them from the fans and for me it’s not the point.
Peter Broderick: Yes, I mean everybody’s different. Some people are maybe just a little more shy with speaking to strangers. I personally love this so for me it’s just the natural, fun thing to do.
musicis.pl: The other way round I’ve seen you yesterday at the concert here at the Off Stage. How did you like the band, Babu Król?
Peter Broderick: They were amazing! I mean, it was completely unlike anything I’m normally listening to, but just looking around the room, seeing how much fun all the people were having… Who can say anything bad against that? It was complete, positive, uplifting atmosphere and the band had so much energy. The singer [Budyń, Jacek Szymkiewicz] was… It’s a good thing he does music, otherwise he might go crazy! This is what music is good for – allowing people with so much energy to channel it into something creative and powerful.
musicis.pl: Obviously you must be a fan of many artists. Some of them may be less known in Poland. Could you recommend us anyone?
Peter Broderic: Let’s see. I feel like I should try to recommend bands that are still playing now. ‚Cause a lot of the music I’ve been listening to is older music as well. I always think of this guy, Arthur Russell. He’s not alive anymore, but he’s big inspiration to me. He tried so many different things and that’s what I like to do. If I make a song on the guitar, the next song I make on the piano, and that’s what’s fun and interesting for me. When you listen to his music at first it’s even hard to tell if it’s the same guy. But if you listen more and more you start to get this overarching feeling that runs through the whole thing. Therefore it’s like a puzzle trying to figure out how this all came from one person. Besides, a lot of my friends are people who I listen to. Before I was collaborating with Greg Haines, I was just a fan. I’m thinking also of a girl who lives in Spain. She makes music under the name Coleen, which is pretty ambient kind of music, but for me it’s really beautiful.
musicis.pl: The last quick question. You’re using lots of different instruments and changing genres like nobody else. So what are you looking for in music? What’s this crucial thing that one must have to make everything click?
Peter Broderick: I look for things that are unique, people being themselves, not trying to copy somebody else. I like to get a good sense that the person is doing something from what’s inside them not just trying to copy something that they think it’s cool. That’s like the guy on stage last night. He’s just being himself, you know. I’m sure he has inspiration from other artists like anyone else but he’s such a character himself and that really turns me on. I look for positivity as well. When things are too aggressive or negative I kind of turn the other way. I like things that are melancholic, that are quite sad, but that to me is still positive. I feel good when I feel those emotions. Yes, I look for positivity and strong character.