When you start being described as ‘prodigiously talented’ by your press releases or even ‘horribly talented’ as one local paper described him, you begin to get a reputation that is sometimes hard to live up to. Peter Broderick says he doesn’t take too much notice of such descriptions. Yes it is nice to get compliments, but he tries not to let it affect him or go to his head.
Peter recently played at Clwb Ifor Bach on a freezing cold night in February. Having struggled across from the previous night’s gig in Bath we met up with him before the gig as he snacked on Tesco dips and salad.
You started out learning classical violin. Tell us about that process, was it straight forward lessons and exams?
I learnt violin using the Suzuki method, but began to realise the music I enjoyed listening to, such as Nirvana, wasn’t the music I was playing. My home was very musical with both my parents playing instruments and my mother sings so it was inevitable that I played music. The move to play different instruments simply came as there were lots of different instruments around that I just started playing.
You began in the classical world and now play with Efterklang. Do you think that artists like yourself and Max Richter are blurring he lines between genres such as classical and electronica?
I think there will definitely always be classical music that has its own little niche, but there seems to be more and more of that ‘cross over’ music and in that way it’s growing. With the album ‘Home’ I wasn’t trying to make a classical sound. I primarily listen to instrumental music so maybe that’s why it came out that way.
You moved to Copenhagen to work with Efterklang – who you admired. How did that come about and was reality different to what you expected?
It started out when I got a myspace page in 2006. I’d been a huge fan of theirs for a couple of years and I sent them a ‘friend reques’t and I saw the singer also had a personal page and I sent him a CD of 4 track demos and he liked my music. We kept in touch for a couple of years. Then one day totally out of the blue I got an email saying we are looking for a new violin player to tour with us for a year or more, do you want to move to Denmark and join the band? I responded in 5 minutes saying YES!
It was amazing. I was completely ready for it. When I got there I was blown away. They are some of my favourite people on the earth. Amazing to play music with and it was positive all around. Denmark is strangely similar to Portland with the weather, the size and all the art that’s happening there. There are lots of tiny differences, but it wasn’t a great culture shock. I really enjoyed it there.
You signed to Bella Union here in the UK. Why that label?
I was working on ‘Home’ at the end of 2007 when I was back visiting my parents. I’d recorded 3 songs and sent them to a local record label in Portland. I just thought if they like them perhaps I can make a small release of folk songs. At the same time I got an email from Simon at Bella Union saying he really liked my music and if ever I wanted to release something with us let us know. So I was really happy to release the album with them. They are really great I am really happy to work with them.
Your album came out in October last year. What do you think of the response so far?
I have been really blown away by the reviews it was way more than I could ever have hoped for. Here I am touring by myself in the UK and the concerts so far have been great.
The song ‘Not at home’ includes the line ‘when I’m home I’m not at home’. What is that song about?
I was travelling so much and really having a hard time feeling I belonged somewhere and I that I would like to stay somewhere. Even on my days off at home I wasn’t comfortable. It came out of that feeling and moving across the world. I wrote the song when I went back to the States. I was home, but it didn’t feel like home. I think it is something a lot of people experience
Your song ‘And its alright’ has the refrain “seven shooting stars in one night” There has to be a story behind that lyric?
There are just 4 lines in that whole song. It’s kind of like a love song. I was at the beach with this girl and we slept out, skipped rocks and saw a bunch of shooting stars. I feel dorky talking about it!
The song that impressed me most on home was ‘sickness bury’. Tell me how you wrote that song.
It’s strange that some people don’t mention it at all and others really like it.
I was at aunt and uncles house one night and I was playing my cousin’s tiny guitar. I wrote the melody on that and then I went home and recorded 7 minutes of the guitar part and then I listened back and did one layer at a time over the top. Like the other tracks it was recorded at home and I went into the studio with a friend from Efterklang and we mixed it in their studio. He did a really good job bringing it to life and giving it a bit more dimension. I’ll be playing it tonight but it’s a really tough song to play live. The version I do on stage is quite a bit different to the album version but it works in a different way. Its also one of the ones I tend to mess up more because I am trying to do more stuff in it.
Do you see yourself continuing to work with different artists such as Efterklang or do you think the success of home may pull you towards the solo path?
I am still planning to work with Efterklang. I love playing by myself but I also love not being in the spotlight. Just being with the band, no responsibility and just enjoy making the music. I like the contrast between solo and working in a band. We are touring the US in March and we are playing in Israel in a few days time.
Are there any other musicians that you would like to collaborate with?
Actually I have been working with Nils Frahm who is here tonight. I have been working with him on his album. I really like his music. His improvised piano playing really gets me and I can see us working together in the future.
What is the most memorable gig you have played either solo or in a group?
The first time we played with Efterklang in the UK was at Bush Hall in London. It was sold out with over 500 people I was opening and the people were dead silent and going crazy even clapping in the middle of songs. That one always stands out for me.
What do you want people to get out of listening to your music?
I do it because I love to do it. I put a lot of myself into it and I’m not trying to hide anything. I just want to share my music. I make music because I love to do it.
Pete played a brilliant show that night and you can read the review in our live review section. Plaudits aside about whether he is a genius or not, he seems to be someone who genuinely loves to write and perform music. If his album ‘Home’ is anything to go by, the musical journey he has embarked on is destined to be a fascinating and rewarding one for both artist and audience alike.