Prior to receiving Peter Kater's latest CD Love (Mysterium Music), I had heard the pianist-composer's work on numerous Silver Wave and Canyon Record albums as well as, having associated his name with new age music. When I received his lengthy biography of achievements and the CD, I was more interested in the music speaking to me. After all, I spend most of my time reading and writing which leaves me with stress and migraines. It's rare that I can read through an entire bio these days.
Thankfully, Kater's CD brought some healing to my head and my heart so I listened to the album several times (I don't often do this with albums mainly because I have over a thousand recordings, most of which I have reviewed over the past ten plus years). I opened the windows of my apartment allowing the music to drift outside where people could stroll by and absorb the enchanting piano and love offering.
The following interview took place via e-mail and I'm honored to post it here.
Whole Music Experience: Your new album, Love which features solo piano has had a powerful healing effect during a stressful week for me. I read in the press notes that you have set the intention to produce healing music since your first collaboration with R. Carlos Nakai. What was it in your collaboration with Nakai that moved you so deeply to turn away from jazz and embrace healing music?
Peter Kater: It was so long ago, I don’t remember. Ha ha.
I wasn’t embracing healing music as much as I became attracted to doing music that came from a more essential place inside of me. The fact that it was (is) healing wasn’t really the goal. It just seemed natural, pure, and effortless. One doesn’t set out to do healing music. One allows the music to heal oneself and then is moved to play music from that place from that healing. Then in the listening back to that music other people resonate with the healing that has and is always occurring, which can then resonate and invite their own healing.
WME: On your new album you focus on the various aspects of love ranging from romance and intimacy to compassion to passion. You include both compositions and improvisations, do you ever feel like you’re channeling this music?
PK: It’s only channeled.
WME: Besides love, what else inspired you to record this album? Do you think of your listening audience while you compose and record or is there some musical place you go (such as a trance), where you allow the flow of music to wash over you?
PK: Only love inspired me. No, I don’t think of my listening audience. I follow my muse. I trust the unfolding.
I believe strongly in the Law of Attraction and I’m sure that there are thousands of musicians, sound healers, and music therapists who would love to know how you journey from point A to point B. Did you take many risks, land in the right place at the right time?
PK: To answer that would be more like a few chapters in a book rather than a quick interview question. But to answer briefly, it’s all a risk. There are no assurances. It’s all about trust and faith and doing what you have to do because you have no choice. You journey from point A to B one step at a time, hopefully without thinking about it too much. Actually, thinking is one of the most undermining things you can do in creative process. I landed where I landed. It’s all about faith and surrender. You can’t plan a life or anything creative. It unfolds and you show up (or not).
WME: You have collaborated with several Native American musicians including Nakai, Kevin Locke, Mary Youngblood, Robert Mirabel, Joanne Shenandoah and others. I also took a listen to the albums, How the West was Lost, volumes 1 and 2, which is some ways reminded me of the multimedia work Edward Curtis did in preserving Native American cultures.
What is the process for you in melding western well-tempered piano and keyboards with indigenous flute and other music traditions?
PK: I open myself up to the energy and ideas and music starts coming in. I don’t have a process. I wait and Listen. Music is all about listening, not about being creative. I listen and wait until I hear something. And then I start to write or play. When I stop hearing it, then I stop. Faith, trust, presence and surrender. No second guessing. No self-doubt. Just surrender to what is.
Learn more about Peter Kater's compositions, recordings, and performances at his website and Mysterium Music