Peter Salett

“Winsome pop poet” New York Times

The deeply evocative nature of Peter Salett’s music has inspired numerous filmmakers and music supervisors to put his songs to picture, and his 5 records for Dusty Shoes Music have showcased a strikingly original artist who has amassed an impressive body of work essentially behind the scenes and below the radar.

Peter’s ambitious 2008 record In the Ocean of the Stars arrived on the heels of the release of the Universal Pictures romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, for which Salett wrote, arranged and produced several songs that are integral to the storyline. Working with writer/star Jason Segel, he co-wrote We’ve Got to Do Something and Inside of You for Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow character to sing, and he was the primary composer of the film’s musical finale, A Taste for Love. Salett also has a bit part in the movie, which was executive produced by Judd Apatow.

Later that year Salett appeared in Universal Pictures’ Role Models, playing mandolin alongside Paul Rudd in the climactic scene of the movie, an arrangement he did of the Kiss song Beth; and also composing Broken and Bent, a montage song he sings and performs in the middle of the film.

Salett also co-scored the beautiful HBO documentary Cat Dancers which premiered in late 2008, and was viewed by 3 million people, making it the most watched documentary on television that year.

In 2009 Salett has made a jazz duet record with the celebrated pianist Larry Goldings (check out the myspace page here), and has finished another full length cd entitled Addicted to Distraction. In January 2010 his song Endless Orange Sky was released on the soundtrack accompanying the HBO documentary By the People — the Election of Barack Obama, along with songs by Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, John Legend, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, India.Arie, and other well known artists.

While living in New York in the ’90s, the New Jersey-born, Maryland-bred songwriter regularly packed CBGB’s Gallery, the Cottonwood Cafe, Tramps and other clubs, building a rabid following in the Lower Manhattan scene with his vibrant performances. “I was playing acoustic guitar with a rhythm section, but it was definitely rock’n roll,” says Salett. “I used to break three or four strings a night.” One of his volunteer string changers was the aspiring actor Edward Norton, and the two formed a relationship that would have a mutually gratifying second act in the following decade.

Ironically, the original material that made Salett a favorite among writers, painters, actors and his fellow left-of-center musicians was so uncategorizable that it scared off major-label talent scouts. At the time, he found his inability to connect with the traditional record business sufficiently frustrating that he left New York, spending the better part of a year traveling around the Far East and the U.S.

In retrospect, he has come to realize that not signing a record deal was the best thing that could’ve happened in terms of his artistic evolution. “I’m really happy about how I’ve developed and continue to develop outside the confines of a major label, or any label,” he says. It’s been a really good thing for me that I’ve gone in various directions without anyone ever telling me, ‘You need to write a song like this.'”


Sex aka Wieners and Boobs
Friday, February 8, 8pm, Marines’ Memorial Theatre