St Etienne’s Pete Wiggs on the beach he visits to ‘unfocus and zoom out...’

St Etienne’s Pete Wiggs on the beach he visits to ‘unfocus and zoom out...’

A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to contemplate and create. Where is yours?

A lot of my best ideas come to me when in the shower or driving my car with the radio off , but my favourite (and possibly more photogenic) place to de-fog my brain and let inspiration materialise is a stretch of beach about 10 minutes’ walk from my house in Hove, East Sussex.


The seafront at Hove has inspired many a St Etienne masterpiece – only for Pete Wiggs to forget it by the time he gets home.


Why is it so special to you?

I become less self-absorbed and tend to see myself as one of a procession of people who have walked the same path and witnessed the same vista throughout history (and when I’m having feelings like that I know I’ve been cooped up for too long!). There are hedgerows with birds nesting in them, somewhat neglected Edwardian municipal buildings and shelters, unseaworthy wooden boats, wind-blasted palm trees – it’s very familiar and comforting.


Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life?

I spend most of my day in my studio, which is a 10ft x 8ft windowless box room in the cellar of my house. I am very grateful to have such a space to lock myself away in, it means I am very focused on what I’m doing. But sometimes I need to unfocus and zoom out – before coming back unscrambled to reappraise whatever it was I was concentrating on with a fresh perspective.


What is it about the sea that is so ‘grounding’, do you think?

There’s the calming effect of the white noise of crashing waves – or on some days the tranquility of its glassy stillness – but the vastness of it and its power make you realise how  insignificant you are, and when it’s really murky and stormy it makes you appreciate your lot in life.


Is there phone reception there?

Yes, but I try to ignore my phone for a few minutes.


Have you been inspired to write any music there?

I have definitely come up with some ideas down there, especially when not trying to. They’re not always remembered by the time I get home – especially the masterpieces!


How private is it?

It’s never too busy and you can avoid human interaction if you choose. Usually I have my dog with me – he can break the mood sometimes just by being a dog.


What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?

A sense of peace and familiarity, some kind of contact with nature, distance from stress-inducing activities and devices.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Carly, my wife, is a constant source of ‘advice’ but as she was a chef, some of her culinary tips have transformed my cooking abilities. I used to add milk and overcook scrambled eggs but now they are loaded with butter and perfect.

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