1. Who Are You?
I am Peter J Hochstedler. You have probably not heard of me.
2. What do you do?
I write songs that I record and perform for others.
3. When/Where/How did you get your start?
When I was six years old I would sing improvised songs along with the sequencer presets on my cheap Yamaha keyboard. Later, I learned that this was in poor taste so I started playing guitar and writing songs. I played my first show when I was thirteen and if you have a copy of the video my dad took, please destroy it. I grew up in Europe and spent a lot of time busking.
4. How long have you been at it?
26 years, give or take. It depends on how you look at it.
5. What is the most important thing we should know about you?
I find that there are so many wonderful things in the world and it makes me sad that I will not live long enough to experience all of them.
6. Is there anyone else in your field that you particularly admire?
Joanna Newsom is my favorite songwriter ever, of course. Chris Faroe is a good friend of mine and his songs are immaculately crafted and tell stories that are very close to my heart. My sixteen-year-old cousin Mim Stoner is a flickin’ genius and I hope to help her record her first album later this fall—keep your ear to the ground.
7. What other types of art are you into?
I enjoy music production, working with other musicians to help them bring a record into reality. I am currently in Brooklyn working with Rachel Laitman, whom I tremendously admire as a songwriter, on her first album before she starts grad school and hangs up her musical hat.
Sometimes I make collage and appreciate sculpture. I am polarized by fashion. I try to know my modern poets—Wallace Stevens is my fave—and love the fiction of Herman Melville. Medieval mystics hold a special place in my heart. Recently I learned a little about Butoh dance from a farmer I was working for in Tucson and it was deeply fascinating and morbid as flick.
And of course, there is never enough time for enough French cinema.
8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents?
I can depress an entire room full of people. I am not popular at parties.
9. What’s your favourite vice?
10: You eat food? What kind? Like to cook?
I am not a very good vegan but I try. I love to cook all kinds of things—I love raw salt-massaged greens and lots of garlic. I have enjoyed lacto-fermenting vegetables for some years and recently began brewing kombucha. I bake breads—I especially love making loaded focaccia with carmelized onions and vinegar-seared mushrooms. And of course there are beans. I self-identify as a bean enthusiast.
11: If someone was to write a craigslist missed connection about you, what would it say?
Dear short, bearded, caucasian man in the Cleveland Greyhound terminal at 2 AM: what the flick were you eating out of your 16 oz mason jar? It smelled disgusting and looked like loose green stool. Please don’t inflict your alternative eating habits on the rest of humanity.
12: Truth or Dare? Elaborate.
Truth(s): I agree with Marx’s analysis of the theft of labor by capital in Das Kapital but disagree with his sense of the inevitability of revolution so I guess that makes me only slightly Marxist. I find the relationship between material and thought to be at least a little reciprocal. For this reason, Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is one of my favorite essays on why America is flicked. I became an anarchist after reading Dorothy Day’s spiritual autobiography The Long Loneliness. For me, music is an act of freedom and resistance. It is my sincere hope that I can be a part of the creation of a new world in the shell of the old, a society in which it is easier to be good.
Dare: I dare you to buy my music (if you feel like it).
13. How do you make it over the creative hump/slump?
I try to find some other trustworthy creative work on which to meditate for some weeks. I collage interesting ideas from books I am reading and see what comes out. I wait. I ride a bus for days on end and see what America is doing.
(Peter J Hochstedler writes, records, and performs original folk ‘n’ roll tunes around the country. He rides the Greyhound a lot. His music is available at www.peterjhochstedler.bandcamp.com and www.facebook.com/peterjhochstedler. His next show is an NYC album release of The Saltpeter Wars at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn on Friday, August 10, 7:30 PM. Fall tour dates will be forthcoming.)