Trevor Exter moved to New York City in 1998. He also worked in Europe, Asia and South America as a composer, producer, teacher and sideman before hitting his stride as a songwriter and bandleader on his debut, 637 Sounds in 2005.
Home-schooled in Newfield, NY, Trevor expressed a fascination for the cello starting around age 6 – although his is definitely not the story of a childhood wunderkind.
While he was young, he was fortunate to have charismatic and engaging teachers who helped Trevor have fun with the cello and didn’t push him too hard.
He also played the piano as he grew up, and moving to nearby Ithaca, he became a sponge for different music styles. He listened obsessively to Prince, Pink Floyd, Tom Waits and Muddy Waters and played gigs all over town. He never practiced. (He wondered about Indian Raga music.)
Many fine teachers helped him to focus his sound, but Trevor knew that classical music was not for him. So he drifted to Brazil.
For a year and a half in and around São Paulo, he lived in the countryside with a tight-knit group of musicians at the beginning of their careers. They spent evenings congregating around the record player, passing a guitar around the room, learning songs from the rich canon of Brazilian pop, jazz, samba and folk.
An English tutor by day, he started to play gigs at night in an array of bands and became a fixture in jam sessions (often with a stage mic wedged under a rental cello’s tailpiece).
Trevor nurtured his love of melody, groove and nuance with young Brazilian musicians reveling in the Beatles, Coltrane and Ellington as well as their country’s icons — Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque and Hermeto Paschoal.
It was also during this time away from home that Trevor began to dig into Stevie Wonder’s catalog. At one moment he was listening hard to Fulfillingness’ First Finale and got so into it that he wondered aloud “What am I even doing in Brazil?”
At that moment, the song Bird Of Beauty came on and Stevie sang portuguese for an entire verse. “THAT’S what I’m doing here,” he said to himself, and stayed in Brazil while starting to write songs.
He then moved to Madison, WI, where he took a job as an in-home caregiver for autistic adults while putting together a group at night with his friend Téo Lorent.
It began innocently enough with an invitation to play for friends in the back lounge of an Italian restaurant, but the group quickly grew into a nine-piece band. With Téo as lead singer and Trevor directing the band, “Novatribe” rapidly became a local phenomenon appearing weekly for sweaty dancing crowds.
Trevor stretched out as a soloist, often standing with the cello strapped around his neck. People made fun of him.
In 1998 Trevor moved to New York City. He first appeared in the subways playing for his breakfast but then got a big break with a wet aerial rave-poem from Argentina called De La Guarda. He sang and played the drum.
Enjoying a taste of fame as celebrities from Hollywood and beyond came to witness the show and hang with the cast, Trevor stayed with D for three years while moonlighting as a cellist, bassist and vocalist.
In 2003 Trevor burned out on New York, then sought and found refuge in Buenos Aires. He stayed for a year.
Hard times and a near-death experience brought him new clarity about how he wanted to make music, and he recorded some demos in La Plata with drummer Mariano Cantero and bassist Marcos Archetti.
637 Sounds was born of this collaboration, and after some promising band shows Trevor returned to the US in June 2005, armed only with a cello and his strange new collection of songs.
His blend of lyrical singing and plucked cello stood out in small clubs and audiences approved. Trevor had finally found his voice. It wasn’t long before he’d resettled in New York and started appearing at Sidewalk Café, Rockwood Music Hall, Banjo Jim’s, Joe’s Pub and Birdland.
His 2007 EP, Water featured seven very introspective solo songs, and he just finished this new CD called Flying Saucer People. These are mostly upbeat, funky songs that will change your idea of the cello. Go ahead and listen...
Trevor has played with Gloria Deluxe, Nicole Renaud, De La Guarda, Gaby Kerpel, Shrine For The Black Madonna, Marc Anthony Thompson, Toujours l’Amour, Philip Hamilton, Bret Mosley, Spottiswoode and his Enemies, Bronwen Exter, Science For Girls, Novatribe, Changos, the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Poon.
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