Photograph by Seth Olenick
"It's easy to understand why the accessible sounds of Peter Salett often serve as cinematic backdrops. His every yearning and pang feels like your own." - Entertainment Weekly
Hey! I guess this is "more about me" section. Well, what can I tell you. I love music and all of the creative arts. I've been lucky enough to work with great people in many different disciplines - be they drummers, illustrators, comics, dancers, directors, violinists, you name it. It's been a great ride and I've got a lot more work to do...
Along the way I've released 7 records on my own labels; scored a few movies, put my songs in a bunch of movies as well as writing songs for characters to sing; and also appeared in many films. I've also written music for plays and for dance, directed some videos, and even acted in a show or two. Best part is to working on different projects - from reprising my cameo as "Guitar Dude" in the Netflix series "Wet Hot American Summer" to working on my long form pieces like "Suite for the Summer Rain".
When I scored the new David Jacobson film "Tomorrow You're Gone" (2013), starring Stephen Dorff, Michele Monaghan and Willem Dafoe, Screen Daily praised the score, writing that the "atmospheric jazz score helps give the film its rich and dreamy quality". The score wasn't really jazz, but who am I to argue?
I was basically a theater kid growing up. After starting to write songs in my room in high school, and slowly emerging as a musician while in college, I moved to Alaska. Yes, gorgeous Juneau Alaska. There I really dug into writing songs (and working as a waiter). The problem was that I had become infected with the ambition bug, and many of my friends had moved to New York, so I thought, what the hell?
I started by playing downtown clubs in New York City in the mid 90's, and eventually became a fixture in the downtown folk scene. My (at that time) overflowing crowd was filled with writers, actors, directors, and other artists, which led directly to my music being used in film.
My first song in a studio film was "Heart of Mine" - the main theme and end title song in Edward Norton's 2000 directorial debut "Keeping the Faith", starring Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman. The song was mixed by legendary producer T Bone Burnett and was one of two of my songs on the Hollywood Records soundtrack that also included Tom Waits and Elliot Smith. I was really lucky as that song really connected with people; I still get emails from people all around the world who have used it as their wedding song.
Around the same time I appeared as Guitar Dude in David Wain's cult classic film "Wet Hot American Summer" - which was the beginning of my collection of comedic cameo film performances, mostly in David's movies.
After having songs in many movies, and writing songs for movies, the natural progression was for me to start scoring films as well - the first notable score was the 2005 David Jacobson film "Down in the Valley", starring Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood. Five of my songs were also included in "Down in the Valley", including the main title.
It was at that point that I moved to LA, thinking that my future was made once "Down in the Valley" screened at Cannes. Oh well. I still love the movie. And moving to LA did bring me closer to the studios and the bright lights of ol' Hollywood.
Back in the comedic world, through my friend Shauna Robertson, Judd Apatow had reached out to me to try and write some songs for the film Walk Hard. Although none of my songs were chosen, he had liked the work, and so when it came time to work on a Dracula puppet musical for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", Shauna called me up.
In addition to writing the musical finale "A Taste for Love" (with writer/star Jason Segel) I also worked closely with Russell Brand on his rock star songs; which I also co-wrote. It was a ton of fun as the film shot mostly in Hawaii, which left me writing songs and drinking Mai Tais AT THE SAME TIME. Crazy. Director Nick Stoller featured one of the songs again in the follow up film "Get Him To The Greek".
I then worked with David Wain again on his film "Role Models" starring Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott. In addition to my mandolin playing cameo as Ladislas of Leisure, I wrote and sang the montage song "Broken and Bent" and arranged a version of the Kiss song "Beth" that Rudd sings at the end of the movie.
While in LA I hooked up with the great jazz pianist Larry Goldings and we made a mellow duet record called The Carriage House Sessions. And of course then I started making music that was diametrically opposed to that - a glam rock project called This Is The Now. I layered a bunch of distorted guitars in Venice studio and sang in a low voice. It's fun. I made a couple of animated videos with the illustrator Michael Arthur - you can check them out on the Collaborations page.
After a few years however, married and with my young son, we all decided life was just a little more fun back on the East Coast (Brooklyn baby!) and we moved back to New York. Which we love.
"A captivating live presence who sings from an intelligent level, Salett writes with edges and blunt honesty aplenty." - TimeOut NY
As a live performer over the years I've has toured the country, mostly as a duo with my good friend Don Piper, and supported great artists including The Swell Season, David Gray, They Might Be Giants, Ron Sexsmith, Patty Griffin, and many, many more.
As an actor, I've (briefly) appeared in a bunch of films including "Wanderlust", "Superbad", "The Ten", "Wet Hot American Summer", "The F-Word" and "Chelsea Walls", as well as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Role Models."
I've recently finished another record called "Suite for the Summer Rain". I realize everybody says this, all the time, but this is my best one yet. Finger picked haunting guitar and some incredible string arrangements by Chris Carmichael. Co-produced by Jeff Hill and mixed by Hector Castillo. It's one meditative 37 minute track with ocean and wind sounds and some orchestral instruments, and I'm working to make it into a real immersive theatrical experience, and have that be the first imagining of the piece. I have started to play to piece live, and recently premiered the Suites companion piece "Dance of the Yellow Leaf".
As well I've been composing music Vanessa Walters' modern dance piece "Ripening", which recently screened a dance movie at Lincoln Center as a part of Dance Camera Now. I'm also hard at work writing music and lyrics for a fun rock musical entitled "So You Wanna be a Porn Star: a story of sex, love and rock and roll", with book and lyrics by Shannon Burkett.
If you've made it this far, you must really be a fan, and so to you I say - thanks so much for your support. See you out there sometime soon!
Other film projects include:
In 2007 - wrote and performed an end title song for David Wain's film "The Ten," starring Winona Ryder, Paul Rudd and Jessica Alba.
Co-scored Harris Fishman's feature length documentary "Cat Dancers", which won the Special Jury Prize at SXSW in March of 2007 and premiered on HBO in 2008.
In 2005 - contributed 3 songs to Michael Showalter's IFC Film "The Baxter".
In 1998 --wrote a song with Theodore Shapiro for the end title of Sundance Audience Award winner "Hurricane Streets".