You may know Balt Getty from one of his many feature film or TV roles including his most recent in 2017’s revival of Twin Peaks. However, these days Balthazar is focused on his first love, music, and is ready to hit reset on the musical journey he began at 15 as “Balt Getty.”
In this exclusive interview, Balt gives BELLA the inside scoop on the place music holds in his life, his past musical endeavors, and what’s next….
You started your career as an actor in Lord of the Flies but have always had a tendency to create music? Was that always in you? How did you find your passion for music?
I like to use the analogy that music was always my mistress in a way, and acting was my main chick. I grew up in the Waldorf type of schooling, which is a very creative environment that introduced me to music, acting, and art. I started acting when I was 13, so obviously that became my main focus. However, I was honing in my production skills, getting my first DJ gigs, and shadowing Mix Master Mike who was known for his work with the Beastie Boys.
I was 18 when I produced my first hip hop project, inspired by the Los Angeles hip hop scene of the 1990’s, but it was still a side thing for me at that point. In 2005 I got signed to Interscope Records on a project called Ringside which became my foyer into the professional music world.
After the recession in the late 2000’s, I started flirting with the idea of doing my own thing. My wife (Rosetta Millington) and Joaquin Phoenix gifted me a Pro Tools setup and I locked myself into the pool house for three weeks to teach myself how to work with the equipment.
I eventually emerged from the pool house with an album that ended up being my first release, a project I called Solardrive. It started out as something I would give to my friends but it got a life of its own when people started calling me to tell me that they loved the project and that I should do something with it. That led to the founding of Purple Haus Music, a vanity label to put out digital albums. Founding this label allowed me to work on my graphics, editing, filming, and essentially all the creative control I could have, which is something I am really passionate about. In the past it was not my time, or maybe I was insecure, so I tended to be the guy in the back, pressing buttons. Now I am in the driver’s seat, really focusing on me as an artist. I’m setting foot in the light and giving myself a go.
Even before you put out your own songs, you have played a lot of shows as a DJ. Now that you have some original music, do your shows feel any different?
There’s definitely some significant energy exchange with the people when I hit the stage. That’s why you see guys like Mick Jagger still taking the stage; he doesn’t need the money. It’s the energy from the people that charge you up and it’s kind of addictive in a way. Whether it’s a hundred people in a small room or thousands of people in an arena, the feeling is like none other.
How far are you going to chase the dream?
All the way to the top, baby!
What inspires your music? What’s the muse behind your latest single “Money”?
Because I’m a DJ and that is kind of my day job, it requires that I keep my ear to the street. I’m someone that’s always taken great pride in being very tuned into whatever is happening in terms of culture, fashion, and sound. These elements evolve extremely quickly; a cycle that took a year or two back in the day now happens in a week or two. Social media and all of these platforms that are available to us inspire me, so I’m into trap, hip hop, and dance music. I love making people groove along to the music I produce. Most of my music has a sense of humor to it, too.
The world is already a scary and dangerous place, so I want to make people laugh and feel good when they turn to my music. I’m also inspired by artistry and classic rock; it’s a mixture of many things. “Money” is of course our main focus right now, but we have other singles that we’re setting up that will allow me to tell my story through my songs in a year or so, bringing everything to the table musically, lyrically and vocally.
You mentioned the humor element of your songs. In the cover art illustration for “Money,” you have some tattoos on your face. Is there a deeper meaning to it? Would you actually get those tattoos?
The face tattoos in the cover art have a secret message that I cannot reveal exactly, but if people do enough digging, they will be able to figure it out. The face on the cover is a character we created. That’s “Balt Getty”. Right now you’re talking to Balthazar Getty. Face tattoos are a trend right now, until very recently it was against the law to tattoo people under the age of 18, and face tattoos were a rarity. They are everywhere now. I have a connection to the face tattoo culture, because I grew up in Los Angeles alongside a lot of Chicano gangs. If you look at the Purple Haus logo, the skull has three dots that resemble the earliest face tattoos— the teardrops. I really like the look, there’s something super badass about it. I’ve already got quite a few tattoos on my knuckles and on my chest, so I wouldn’t put it past me to get some on my face.
Speaking of Purple Haus, it was founded on this idea of a collaborative creative space for artists. Besides NEVVE and Devante, who are both featured on “Money,” should we expect any more collaboration in the near future? Is there anyone you would want to have on your next release?
Purple Haus Music is a collective. It is an idea, as well as a physical space for creative exchange. In terms of collaborations, we have a couple of different things up our sleeves. I cannot give them away yet, but let’s just say I am very lucky. I got a chance to be around or befriend a lot of these guys that are blowing up right now.
Of course, there are the obvious greats in hip hop like Jay Z and Kanye, and there are the Lil guys. We got Riff Raff on the official remix of one of my songs called “Retail Therapy,” which is available to stream now. Moving forward, I will say stay tuned and find out.
Photo Credit Michael Muller