Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Peter Katz, who discusses his origin in music and new single, â€œPaper Thin.â€
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Peter Katz: Music is one of my earliest life memories. I remember finding a violin on my bed when I was 4. I donâ€™t know that I ever asked to play the violin :) but nevertheless, I remember being very happy about it! From there I started taking violin and piano lessons, and then discovered guitar when I was 12. As soon as I got a guitar in my hand, the impulse to write my own songs came to me and I havenâ€™t stopped since. As far as actually turning it into a career, that started coming into focus in my early 20s when I was asked to write a song for this theatre production I was in in university. The director pulled me aside and said that I should seriously consider it as a career path, and that was the encouragement I needed to go all in I guess.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Katz: I create in a few different ways. Thereâ€™s some songs that beam into my head and I have to stop everything and just get them out. Other times I book a writing session like youâ€™d book a dentist appointment, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work. Maybe that sounds â€˜anti-creativeâ€™ but itâ€™s not to me. I think if you just see yourself as always having things going on inside that can be processed, then itâ€™s just a matter of scanning the frequencies out there and seeing what you find when you tune in. I really believe in the discipline of the practice of being a creator. Thereâ€™s many of my favourite songs that I had to bring into existence by sheer will and determination. Iâ€™ve also loved adding more collaboration into my creative process in recent years, especially on this new album. Having someone else in the room both keeps you accountable, and also creates the possibility for ideas or ways of doing something that you would never have thought of.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Katz: I think Iâ€™m just inspired by humans having a human experience. As in Iâ€™m just as inspired as the person whoâ€™s working full time for minimum wage supporting their 4 kids in a 1 bedroom apartment as I am by any of the typical â€˜heroesâ€™ we look to. I have this underlying sense that humans want the best for each other, we all want to do good for those we love and our fellow neighbour, and Iâ€™m inspired when I see that emerge. Of course we go off-course, we get greedy, we get scared, we make mistakes, but we have this incredible ability to recover, to be resilient, to do such great things and use your hearts and minds for so much good. I love when I see that.
Review Fix: What does music mean to you?
Katz: Music is the soundtrack to my life. Itâ€™s a part of every single day of my life, it keeps me company, it helps me feel, it helps me understand, it helps me let go, it helps me with everything. Itâ€™s so ubiquitous in my life, I donâ€™t know that I even question it!
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Katz: How about â€œmusic to dance to on the kitchen floor you were crying on earlierâ€. I go to music to process emotion, so Iâ€™m not ever trying to be clever or cheeky or anything other than transparent. So my music has a lot of emotion baked into it. This new music though is very different both in the writing and sonically than anything Iâ€™ve ever done before. The feeling of it is meant to be cathartic, to be felt deeply and to be released. In the past, I think I made the listener wait until the 3-minute mark, when the cello came in, to finally have a payoff. With this new music, I wanted you to be dancing and moving right out of the gate, and maybe you only realize what itâ€™s about (or what the lyrics mean to you) on the 10th listen. Itâ€™s all in there to be discovered, but itâ€™s designed to just be felt in your body first.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Katz: I see live shows as the epicentre of what I do. My goal is always to be gathered in a room with people. So when that happens, I always try to make it a â€˜once in a lifetimeâ€™ experience. As in, this exact thing is only happening right now. What happened that morning in the world? Whatâ€™s happening right now in the room,? Where am I at? Where are WE all at? I like to let those variables influence the experience, to be fully present with the people that are there. And of course to have a really dialled in show that delights, entertains, inspires. Basically an experience that makes you feel darn glad you did whatever you had to do to be in that room! The overall vibe is one of joy, catharsis, community. Even if Iâ€™m singing a sad song, I try to push it outwards instead of being insular.
Review Fix: What inspired your latest single?
When I was 18 years old, I moved from Montreal to Toronto to go to university. Before moving into my new apartment in Toronto, I spent a night at this Motel 6 on the side of the highway, about to cross a â€˜life threshold,â€™ starting out in a new city.
Katz: Many years later, after sudden and unexpected events in my personal life, I went on a tour that concluded in Montreal. Once again, I found myself driving from Montreal to Toronto about to start my life all over again. I ended up in the same Motel 6, where the time between my visit as an 18 year old and the present felt â€˜paper thin.â€™ That was the nugget of inspiration that I worked from. I actually co-wrote the song with Kyler England who had also been through her own â€˜life thresholdâ€™ moments.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2020?
Katz: My first goal is that my family/friends/everyone be healthy and safe and make it through this crazy time! But if I’m allowed to dream right now, I’d love to see this new music make it out there in a bigger way than anything I’ve ever done before. I feel like I’ve been working my whole life to be able to make this music. I feel like a new artist in many ways and would love to have these new offerings be given a real shot out there, cause I believe they could be well-loved. That’s my honest answer. And would love to have the live music business fire up again and play some beautiful shows around the world.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Katz: Paper Thin is just step 1 in this process of releasing the new music, so we’ve got 2 more singles teed up in the coming weeks, and then more in the following months until we put out the full record. Every single has a to-do list attached to it that’s enormous so very focused day and night on giving every song the chance it deserves.
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