A Late Start and Long Journey: Alt-Country Legend Pete Byfield Shares his Story
I’d like to introduce myself to you. My name’s Pete Byfield, and I’m an Alt-Country artist, living and making music in the Wheatbelt region of WA.
My album, One, won Best Independent Album of the Year at the 2016 WA Country Music Awards. I also received a nomination for Male Artist of the Year in 2016 and 2017. I’ve been a finalist in WAM’s Song of the Year competition in 2015 and received a nomination for best regional act in the 2017 WAM awards. I was appointed as one of WAM’s Wheatbelt WAMbassadors, promoting road safety in the Wheatbelt, in 2016. I’m currently planning a six month Australian tour commencing 2019.
None of this would have happened without WAM, and my chance encounter with their regional recording program in 2014, Sounds of the Wheatbelt. The program seeks to identify original music artists with view to participation in the recording program.
I had always played music, playing in cover bands throughout the Wheatbelt over many years and had a few attempts at writing. A friend heard me working on a song about driving a tractor on the family farm in the 1960’s when I was a kid and he suggested I apply to be included in WAM’s Sounds of program. The song Wialki, reminisces about all the things that made life on the farm special to me. I did apply, thinking I was making up the numbers, however to my surprise I was selected.
The song ended up being the opening track on the compilation, which is a collection of original music from artists right across the Wheatbelt.
The journey to recording my album One was really a sequence of very fortunate events. WAM had brought in ARIA award winning producer, Joel Quartermain to guest produce a couple of the songs on the Sounds of album, and mine was lucky enough to be one of them. I was so encouraged by the process of being involved in this project, that I set to work and wrote a further sixteen songs once production had wrapped up. Joel saw something in me when we met, and he really encouraged me to write and record more of my own music. Together, we worked on my debut album, One… and things just kept rolling from there. We recorded another three singles in 2016; Dark train. Outta Space Outta Time and Atmissphere.
The recording experience, provided by WAM through the Sounds of project, turned out to be life changing.
We are counting on the support of people like you to continue changing the lives of artists like Pete.
Being an artist in regional WA can be challenging. We face vast distances between towns and regional centres and less opportunities to play than in more populated areas and yet there is a thirst for great music in regional WA. For many rural musicians life revolves around the places that they live and exposure to outside musical influence in the flesh is limited. This is somewhat bitter-sweet. The isolation gives rise to original creativity both melodically and lyrically and on the other side there is a craving for encounters with likeminded musical folk from beyond the local borders. The cross pollination of musical life I call it.
The isolation conundrum is solved beautifully by WAM. WAM seeks out original rural artists and provides recording opportunities and collaboration with other artists. I personally have benefited by being included on the bill of three consecutive WAM Wheatbelt Touring Circuits, playing my own songs alongside established headline acts. I even became a headline act, playing to thousands of people and selling my music and building my profile. Now that’s something I never thought I would achieve. WAM has also provided the opportunity to play at the State of the Art Festival and two WAM Festivals in 2016 and 2017 for myself and many other rural musicians.
Throughout this crazy journey I’ve met so many other rural and city muso’s who have directly benefited from WAM programs. It’s a large family of people and growing, who come together from time to time and add to the fabric of a wonderful musical life.
By making a tax deductible donation today you’ll be helping change the lives of artists like Pete.
WAM is currently accepting registers of interest for upcoming Demos from the Wheatbelt until February 4th. Check out more information here!