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Check Out Trevor Exter’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Trevor Exter.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born in upstate NY, but my dad grew up in Riverside. We’d come to California for all the holidays and I always loved it here… the food and weather and the general liveliness of it all. He got a teaching gig in Mexico when I was 6, so we moved there for a year. From then on, I got fascinated by travel and living in new places, so it became a habit. By now, I’ve lived in 5 countries and 4 US states, in addition to having visited dozens of others on tour. All thanks to music.

I took up cello at age 7. But while music education was available to me, I had a hard time paying attention in class. And at some point, I realized that the noises I was making weren’t really matching up with what my teachers expected, so I dropped out of school and moved to Brazil for a couple of years. I taught English for rent money and spent most of my time befriending musicians.

Brazil really taught me how music brings people together. Once I figured it out, I came back to the states and started working as a musician. I did bar gigs, club dates, wedding gigs, anything I could find. I moved to NYC for a while where I got an amazing break performing in a highly off-the-wall theater spectacle called De La Guarda. It was a beautiful time. Then I started making albums as an indie singer-songwriter and touring as a sideman. These days I live here, freelancing as a cellist and producing music and podcasts. LA has it all and I love calling it home.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
There have definitely been bumps, I’m not sure any creative life would be complete without them. But you grow up. I’ve never forgotten how lucky I am, especially having lived in rural America and in places like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, seeing what people go through on the margins. As much as I’ve been inconvenienced by societal changes, a tough music industry and frequent income shortfalls (precipitating multiple periods without a residence), there’s always a move you can make.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m excited about some new instrumental music I’m putting out this year. It’s a three album series, the first one is out now on my bandcamp page. I’ve made a name for myself as a non-traditional cello player and songwriter. The cello is an incredibly tactile and sensitive instrument, nothing like a guitar. It also turns out that *properly* amplifying a cello is incredibly hard and requires a totally different set of techniques, so the competitive pool isn’t as large as it would be for traditional cellists. Having a calling card like this has led to some great, diverse gigs.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Just do it. Work incredibly hard, don’t hesitate. Set small achievable goals, meet them and then set new ones. For a long time, I was afraid to embrace the thing that I do which is unique and instead tried to fit myself into everyone else’s boxes. Don’t do that. Just make friends, create work that lights you up… and ALWAYS spend less money than you earn.

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Image Credits:

Shervin Lainez, Whitney Browne, Kerri Kelly, Trevor Exter, Daniel Savage, Rachel McIntosh, Lyris Hung

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