Musical Inspiration at Malibu High

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Tristan Peterson

Amidst the heavy workload of senior year and the pressing college application deadlines, one Malibu student in particular has made it a priority to incorporate music into his daily life. Malibu High School (MHS) senior Tristan Peterson has devoted his entire life to music, and he does not plan to stop anytime soon. 

“I’ve been playing music since pretty much the day I was born — not quite — or at least I’ve had an obsession with it,” Peterson described.

The 17-year-old explained the importance of music in both his life and within the community.

“I think that music is always the most important thing, and I don’t think it often gets enough credit  for the importance that it has,” Peterson said. “I mean, for me at least, it’s my life’s blood. It’s everything I absolutely do and in Malibu, I don’t think necessarily it’s the largest thing that’s on people’s minds because creation is all art, just in general — music aside, it is definitely the most important cultural asset of anything.”

The young musician is best known for his drumming talents around Malibu, playing for local venues including MHS’s frequent coffee houses and the “Masque” talent show. While he is well known in the community for his exceptional drumming skills, he also revealed that he has a wider set of musical talents. 

“I guess most people know that I play drums, for the most part, but then I also play bass and I do a lot of keyboard and electronic work,” the teen explained. “I play guitar, I sing — basically, give me an instrument and in the span of a month I can probably learn how to play it — I’m one of those people. A lot of times people ask me, ‘Why music over everything else?’ and I can only give the stock answer that most artists give: Because I have nothing else. It’s what I’m best at. It’s what I do.”

Peterson said he does not remember a time in his life when he was not compelled toward music.

“My parents listened to music a lot, so I was kind of just around it. And then whenever they’d turn it off I’d start complaining and whining. So, I mean it was never really that they wanted me to play music so much as that there was music and I gravitated toward it, so I just kind of let it happen and let the pieces fall where they may,” Peterson said. 

In fact, starting at the young age of two in Mommy and Me classes, Peterson first realized he wanted to pursue his musical calling. 

“I was signed up for Mommy and Me classes and I absolutely hated them. But I still wanted to play the music that we did, so my parents ended up figuring out somehow that I wanted private lessons,” Peterson explained.

The MHS senior expanded on how he hopes to pursue a musical career and knows that wherever his life takes him that music will continue to play an important role. 

“I’m always thinking of new things to do, new ways to develop, because I also compose and write and make some of my own material. So really, [I] just absorb everything I possibly can and hopefully that will get me somewhere, because that’s what I intend to do for a living,” Peterson said. “Really, at the end of the day, I just see myself doing something in relation to music. What it is — that’s an infinite number of possibilities, but otherwise there’s just music.”

In addition to Peterson’s commitment to his own personal musical developments, he hopes to give back to the Malibu community with his talents. 

“I would like to think that my little contribution to the Malibu music scene is beneficial,” Peterson explained.

The musician further described to The Malibu Times how he strives to use pure and raw emotional expression in his work. 

“I don’t believe in artistic compromise in any form and I think [raw emotional expression] is something a lot more people need now-a-days,” he described, “to refuse to settle for anything less than exactly what you want at any time.”

He said he aspires to show the community the benefits of music and finding importance in everyday hobbies.

“Make music. Do music. Do something. Create something, make it your own, even if it’s just surfing or something — make it more than just something you do. Personalize it, because creation is therapeutic,” the young performer said.

Currently, as Peterson continues his musical endeavors, he is anticipating the possibility of a tour with the band Bull of Heaven in the coming months. 

“We are sorting things out and waiting for the final push to go ahead,” he said.