Most people know Peter Westheimer as a former Byron Shire councillor, but there’s more to Peter than meets the eye. Peter has just released his sixth album, to be launched at the Byron Community Centre on Saturday.
Peter, tell us a little about the recording. The album was sketched and composed mainly on a laptop, much of it during train journeys in Europe in late 2009 exploring awesome scenery in late autumn, some of the continent’s dark history and reflecting on the state of our planet.
After returning to Australia I have been fortunate to have production support and creative contributions from Tone Wandaller from Crystal Grid studios. I worked intensively with Dave Basek on music production over a six-month period. Parissa Bouas from the Hottentots did an inspired vocal session which I cut and pasted on to my music recording grid as I also did with the wonderful talent of Amir Paiss on Santoor. It is a solo album but the input from the creative juices of my fellow Northern Rivers creatives has helped to make this what I believe is my best album so far.
How would you describe your music… is it more theatrical? My music itself is an integration of many of my previous influences and experiences from being a classical violinist playing in the Australian Youth Orchestra to Indian music on Sitar, Indonesian and Japanese influences from travel to electric guitar, keyboards and singing in a punk, new wave and electro pop band in Melbourne pubs, new age and cinematic influences from composing music for many national TV documentaries and even a couple of feature films. I also throw politics, the environment and spirituality into the mix, trying to avoid musical clichés and using surrealism and humour.
My show/performance has evolved from initially a concept of simple DJing, which didn’t seem like much fun and was too static for me, to becoming more and more theatrical and multimedia. Tone W, with his video-mixing skills, and I co-produced a video clip for each track, often using images from my travels and contributions from friends. During a recent trip to Bali I taught myself to shoot and edit my own clips, which I have integrated into the show in the track Karma than Chaos and a separate new clip to a track called Bali Dream from my Transition album. I am seeing myself more and more as a musician and producer who has strong connections with the world of art and design. I have integrated experience I had with acting and producing avant garde and political theatre during and after my university years in Melbourne around La Mama, the Pram Factory and the then flowering of Australian playwrights such as David Williamson, Jack Hibberd and John Romeril.
What did you set out to achieve in this album? I wanted to create an album that had international appeal, that had plenty of melody and the oomph of strong bass and rhythm lines. It was originally going to be instrumental like my past three CDs Transition, Balance and Music Sculptures but Tone suggested that some vocals might work so we looked for a vocalist who was open minded and original with a strong voice. That person was Parissa… Then I developed lyrics for some of the tracks, enjoying the opportunity to still have a voice in politics and social issues. My early works in the 80s Laminex Lovers EP, Move and Sooner than Laughter albums did feature a number of my vocal tracks.
The album also gives me a strong cohesive body of works that are gradually being taken up by synchronisation and licensing companies and local film producers that place music with films and docos.
How do you feel about the results? The results are still evolving! I have been getting great feedback from listeners to internet streaming radio stations in the USA and Europe, which is what gave me the confidence to go live. Selling and marketing music in the digital world is very challenging yet wonderfully accessible these days. I am getting airplay, reviews and online video interviews on radio and the net. I have industry people here, in LA and New York who like my work and continue to get my music and videos out there. I intend to keep releasing more videos because I love the art aspect of video clips. Over the next few years I am more likely to release single tracks at a time with video clips for each track so I can expand the repertoire for my live performances too. When people buy music these days it is more often than not they have the ability to choose whatever tracks they want rather than ending up with paying for an album with some tracks they may not like so much… It’s the world of digital downloads now with CDs making a slow exit!
What should we expect for your local show? A big sound and a big screen with continuous video clips, laser lighting, mask work, dancers, live video mixing and cameras to project around the theatre giving a 3D effect and feel. I will be adding quite a lot of treated vocal overlays and movement. I take the audience on a Tranzworld Express journey. It’s basically a one-hour music, visual and movement multimedia installation designed to provoke, stimulate and entertain.
Saturday at 8pm at the Byron Theatre at the Community Centre.