We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Jacobson *hellacello* and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
It’s interesting to reflect on trajectory, since it seems so important to decide where to aim! But I think the key lies in just noticing what enthuses us. That instinct won’t lie.
As a kid my parents encouraged me and my brothers to play classical music. If I’d practice cello an hour or so, then I was free to go tear it up outside (always with mixtape and walkman blasting.) Learning how to practice music was especially useful at points when I felt my life was completely falling apart, or at risk of going off the rails. It gave me a thing to aim for. Practicing an instrument obviously helps build skills, and can also be a discipline to stabilize a wild mind.
Practicing is one part of the equation. Life experience is another part. I grew up in suburbs and moved near DTLA/Pico Union in the late 90’s. I was a very naive young classical nerd wandering around a city that was fascinating and dangerous. Still, neighborhood kids showed me kindness in the form of passing the weed and wanting to make music (mostly beats to rap over) and I was amazed they actually thought I had something useful to offer. As far back as I can remember, I have been passionate to see how much freedom I can get with this music thing. I was always excited to find out where and with whom I can play, and the ‘universal language’ part of music has gradually come true. Classical chops have been a big help to pay the bills with studio work here in LA. But getting the encouragement, then the courage to improvise has given access to another lane. I still get excited to play with people who sight-read music beautifully, also with people who can’t read music, as well as people who could give a damn about reading music!
Two things we all need are stability, and freedom. They are actually the same thing. Being a parent of two boys, and now a perfect baby daughter born just last month, has gifted me new focus and determination. And the intention is just to be present with the kids, to laugh and be overjoyed in their presence. We get lots of nature time, it feels so good. And I keep making music, hoping if I love it, other people may as well.
I’m really excited about the amazing musicians who knocked it out of the park on my new ep : Hellacello : Baby Rainbow : out everywhere on Horch Records. Peace and blessings all!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m trying to stay in the moment, and keep listening. Specifically though, I’m doing lots of home recording for different composers, and making new music in my garage studio. Some of this music is calm or cinematic cello music, some are original songs and collabos with friends who maybe send drums to play over, or whatever. Now is such a time to just build, since touring and live gigs have ceased. So I try to get prolific. I love to sing and rap stupid lyrics that sound like one-liners. A little teaching cello lessons. Also I am busy practicing Indian classical raga music on the cello. From time to time I do livestream concerts with a wonderful sitar player, we go by SANGAM: Sitar and Cello, it’s something I’ve been working on for the last 15 years.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Lets go surf County Line in Malibu, enjoy Leo Carillo beach/campground, or go eat in Koreatown. I love Nak Kwon, Hodori and that other Beverly Soon Tofu spot across the street. I sure hope they are all surviving the pandemic. Later that night we head to the World Stage for some live music, if live music is happening? Back in my old Altadena area, we’re going to Pollos Puebla or Puebla Tacos. These days, with Covid, take a hike around the Hahamongna Watershed park/Arroyo Seco near JPL. Throw a frisbee. Jump in the secret swimming hole if there’s water in the river, and if it’s hot. Sadly, since Covid is happening, lets just keep camping- up the 2 fwy and we will build a fire to stay warm at Chilao Campground. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Give thanks for so many amazing musicians who keep leading with love and light! To Paul Livingstone and the Soul Force Project, to Miguel Atwood-Ferguson my dear friend thru the years, to Jesse Sharps and The Gathering, to Dwight Trible and the World Stage Performance gallery, to my beloved Quartetto Fantastico, Chris Woods and Paul Cartwright on violins, to Jon Oliver Knight my collaborator and the band SitaraSon , to Fabrice Martinez violin virtuoso and dear friend thru all times. To my friend Mike Milosh and Rhye, who has taken me with him all over the world, congrats on the new album. To Bryce Lamar, who leads with music and wisdom, to my friend Devin and Horch Records, to my love Rathana and our kids, to Quetzal and his band who showed love and let me in, to Kuma and his mom, and to my brothers and Mom and Dad, and everyone who keeps the world turning, with love and sanity.
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All photos by Devin Horch except studio photo in blue tux by Mark Power