Name: J. Peter Schwalm
Nationality: German
Occupation: Composer, producer
Current release: Neuzeit, J. Peter Schwalm's collaboration with Arve Henriksen, is still available from RareNoise Records.

If this feature with J. Peter Schwalm piqued your interest, visit his website or Bandcamp store for more music and insights into his work.

We also conducted a 15 Questions J. Peter Schwalm interview a while ago.

I've already had one or the other experience in my life where I thought: Peter, this could be your last project. But actually I always feel (even without illness) that I am now working on the most intensive album / project. My head is busy all the time with new ideas, sometimes math / numerical ideas, sometimes a visual layout of an orchestral piece.

There is a lot of emotion in my music, and yes, the emotion is definitely the cause for an idea for a moment. But it might only be about 5%. The bigger part of the process is like working on a sculpture, with many nuances, twists, depths and shapes; angular and round, clear and destroyed.


The experience of listening to music and feeling like it was a celebration of life  was a long time ago; rather in my childhood. When I was playing as a drummer to Billy Cobham's music. I don't know why I stopped playing the drums. I probably wanted to make sounds and compose music.

I don't always associate music as a mirror of personal life phases. I rather try not to repeat myself and to implement an idea every time that I have not yet implemented. Of course one can then suggest that the sounds now reflect us. But that's more the job of the people who listen to my music.


When I create something that I haven't managed to implement before, the resulting music sparks an energy that can hardly be put into words. Fear, tension and happiness are what drive ideas.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not? A direct, unrestrained and unfiltered emotion. A pure emotion; be it gloomy or happy. Music can also keep an emotional memory alive, even if it cannot yet be expressed in words.


Life and death; Finiteness and infinity. The time, the hope and the end of beauty and blooming and the possible beginning of infinity? I don't know what happens when life ends, but my album “How we Fall” is deeply influenced by these considerations. Maybe it's always about life - and maybe it's easier for the listener to classify it.


Life is living it. I try to convey to my children that they only have this one life. They should trust their instincts, even if it may be difficult to understand from the outside. Taking detours is part of it. For me, it is mostly events from my personal environment that influence my creativity. If you do not take those detours, you will not be able to experience and process certain experiences in real life.

I also try to convey to them that a short impulse can make a big change in life; when you see it.