Apr 24, 2011

Metamorphosis

Peter Freeman is a bassist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, mixer and producer from New York City whose work encompasses a wide variety of genres. Beginning his professional career in 1983 as a bassist with Indian virtuoso electric violinist L. Shankar, he went on tour and/or recorded with artists such as Seal, Alanis Morissette, John Cale, Chris Spedding, Nile Rodgers, Shawn Colvin, Sussan Deyhim, Elliot Sharp and the influential trumpet innovator Jon Hassell.

He moved to Los Angeles in 2002, where he branched out into film and television as a musician and musical sound designer working with various composers. Credits include work on such projects as Thomas Newman's score for Disney/Pixar's "Finding Nemo", 2002's "Traffic" mini-series for USA Network, as well as many projects with composer Charlie Clouser (formerly of Nine Inch Nails), including the NBC and CBS TV shows "Las Vegas", "Numb3rs", all of the "Saw" films for Lion's Gate, "The Stepfather", "Resident Evil: Extinction", "Death Sentence" and "Dead Silence". He has worked with composer Anton Sanko as a multi-instrumentalist on projects such as HBO's "Big Love" series and National Geographic's "Great Migrations".

He has also recorded and performed extensively with Jon Hassell between 1990 and 2009, touring throughout Europe and North America. To add to such an extensive list of accomplishments early in 2011, he was a featured guitarist on composer Cliff Martinez's score to the Lakeshore film "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011), starring Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe and Marisa Tomei.

Revolution spoke directly with this extraordinary artist, from his home in Los Angeles to discuss his latest works and get insight into his changing and evolving ways.

R. From bassist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, not to mention musical sound designer. What haven't you done that is still on your to do list?
PF. As far as my actual job description goes, I'm pretty much doing the kinds of work I like doing, though of course one wants new challenges to keep things fresh. I just want to work with great people on (hopefully) significant projects as often as I can.

R. You've had an extensive journey so far in your musical career with many highlights, which one would you say stands out the most? why?
PF. I really enjoyed playing with John Cale back in the late 80s - Chris Spedding was the guitarist in the band and he's fantastic. That had some great moments. Later on, I also had fun playing with Seal and working with Trevor Horn. He's a brilliant producer. It was also interesting doing SNL and the shows we did opening for the Rolling Stones in big venues. More recently, working with Jon Hassell for 20 years has been very rewarding and creatively challenging in a lot of ways; He was a musical hero of mine growing up. We developed a close working relationship, which ultimately led to making a record with Manfred Eicher for ECM, a longtime goal of mine. I got co-production with Manfred and Jon on that, which is significant as Manfred is normally the sole producer of ECM's records. A few years before that, I had also played on, co-produced and mixed Jon's previous record ("Maarifa Street") in much the same way, but this last one was a big milestone for me. It's called 'Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street'.

R. Tell us what are you working on next?
PF. It's always a mix of things. There is more film and TV on the horizon, and a promising new musical collaboration in the offing that I want to keep quiet about just now (don't want to jinx it as it's in its early stages). I'm also heavily involved in designing an iPad pro music app that is very exciting. That should be out next fall, and I'm totally loving the process of working on it, with a few longtime friends of mine. It just so happens that they're all accomplished veterans of the music software world, so there are a lot of great ideas going into this thing. I'm psyched about it.

R. You've toured with many recognized international artists. What is your favorite style of playing?
PF. I don't really think in terms of favorite styles or in fact clear-cut styles in particular. I just tend to end up doing stuff I'm right for aesthetically, most of the time. I've always been more interested in music that is hybridized or "in the cracks" stylistically, as opposed to things that come solely from a very clearly-defined tradition. The Jon Hassell stuff is the best example of hybridization as far as things I've worked on.

R. As an overall music composer, where do you get your inspiration?
PF. From a variety of places; Sometimes it's photography or visual art, but very often just a single sound itself is a compositional inspiration.

R. When traveling around the world. What are you listening to on your iPod/iPad?
PF. Well, that really depends. I'm not really traveling so much right now, but I'll tell you what's on my iPhone: The Books, The Police, Yello, The Orb, PJ Harvey, Future Sound of London, The Young Gods, Meshuggah, Madlib, Dave Edmunds, Steve Tibbetts, Soundgarden, The Isley Brothers, Stone Temple Pilots, Wire and Yes.


Last but not Least...

R.You've been told that the world will end in 2 days. What music would you compose as your last piece and what would it be for?
PF. I'd probably try to somehow crystallize the core aspects of my emotions and my life in the most vivid
way possible, while being concise and utterly original. So nothing too difficult.


Peter Freeman
Bassist, Producer & Film Composer

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