Today we have epic singer-songwriter/actor/producer Pete Teo. He's responsible for Songwriter's Round, a series promoting local Malaysian talent, award-winning albums & most recently - Undilah, a a pro-bono, non-partisan music video promoting the right to vote. [You can watch the video here]
The first time I met Pete was the very first time I played the open mic stage for Songwriter's Round at the old No Black Tie. Pete was very supportive and later on was one of the main people who encouraged me to record my debut album 'Acoustic Gestures' in 2004. He continues to be an inspiration to my work and is the embodiment of a hard working creative individual.
Let's find out what he's been up to!
1. What's your latest project?
I have just finished recording 2 songs commissioned by a Korean cultural foundation and 5 short films for Microsoft Malaysia. I am readying myself to write a few new songs for a regional Mandarin pop star and then make an ambitious music / film project in March or April. I want to work towards making a feature film this year also - but that depends on whether I'll find funding for it. Right now, I am just enjoying doing nothing for a few weeks. It's my first proper break for about 4 years.
2. What inspires your music?
Stories. Life. Experiences. They don't have to be extraordinary stories. The trick is to make something sublime out of the ordinary and unremarkable. It is not an easy thing to do, especially if one were interested to tell stories honestly.
3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums?
Too many to choose from - but just on top of my head:
Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
The Band - Music From Big Pink
Astor Piazzolla - La Camorra
Leonard Cohen - The Essential Leonard Cohen
4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of?
Kim Doo Soo - Bohemian. Mr Kim is a cult Korean folk singer and 'Bohemian' is his ode to death. The song fuses both the eastern and western folk traditions into a simple whole - and it possesses the sort of organic complexity that all my favorite songs have. I read somewhere that when it was released in Korea, it caused several suicides. It certainly stunned me when I first heard it a few years ago. I must have put it on repeat for days afterwards. It made me glad to be a musician.
5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
I love music but have mixed feelings about the music business. I wish someone had told me when I first started that the music industry these days is no longer really about music. Still, a music industry veteran in Hong Kong did tell me years ago that music in itself is a musician's reward - so I guess being able to make music makes up for having to deal with the vagaries of a broken industry.
6. How do we reach you?
And before we go, here's a video from Pete's last album, Television.
This is 'Lost in America' - 2007 AIM Award winning video from Pete Teo's 'Television' album. Directed by Tony Pietra [live action] and Studio Voxel [animation].
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