If you've been to even one indie-friendly Portland folk concert this year, you're likely already acquainted with Peter Broderick. Second only to that guy with the Sideshow Bob hairstyle who seems to be in attendance at every show in town, Broderick is a strong contender for the most-Portland-gigs-attended crown; however, he earns this distinction as a performer, playing the full array of American gothic instruments, bowing, strumming, and plucking onstage with Laura Gibson, Norfolk & Western, Loch Lomond, and Horse Feathers. I've been fascinated by Broderick's role as ubiquitous, multi-instrumentalist wingman, perfectly complementing each act he contributes to with his adaptable, yet readily identifiable stringsmanship. But I've always wondered what kind of music he would make on his own. My curiosity will be satisfied this Friday, July 20 at 10 pm when Broderick makes his solo debut at Mississippi Studios.
Between Horse Feathers and Norfolk & Western tours this past winter, Broderick set aside some time at Miracle Lake Studios with producer Skyler Norwood and frequent collaborator Amanda Lawrence to document his compositions. The result, an elaborately orchestrated 10-song album entitled Float, consisting of spacious, contemplative instrumentals that straddle the sonic territories of classical, folk, and post-rock, will see release in October on UK label Type Records.
Broderick said of his project: "I guess what I'm trying to do, at least with this album, is to make sort of 'classical music,' but with the sensibility of modern pop music. There is a large emphasis on simplicity, and on production, and the songs are all quite short." Float features the panoply of instruments Broderick is known for including violin, banjo, mandolin, piano, accordion, lap steel, and saw. As for how he plays so many instruments, Broderick explained, "Well, I guess I'm primarily a violinist (at least that's all I've had lessons for), but when I was in high school I became obsessed with collecting instruments. For a while there it seemed like I was getting a new instrument every week! And then I just tried to learn how to play them all to some degree. For the musical saw I actually looked up how to play it on the internet! And after trying to play many instruments, I start to draw similarities in lots of different instruments, which makes them easier to pick up."
However, Broderick plays well enough to have attracted the attention of Danish band Efterklang, who have recruited him to play violin with them, and open on their upcoming European tour. This is a dream come true for Broderick, but a tragedy for Portland, as Broderick is moving to Denmark on a trial basis in September, meaning this first local solo gig could also be his last. So get your Peter Broderick while the getting's good.