Texas-bred singer/songwriter Peter More has announced the release of his new singles featuring former Fugees collaborator and Grammy winning producer John Forté, out April 3, 2020. Following two years of nationwide and international touring behind his debut LP, Beautiful Disrepair (which was produced by Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen), the new singles mark an exciting evolution in More’s songwriting and arranging. Watch and share the behind the scenes story of the songs “Inside/ Chan Chan” here.
On his dynamic new double single, Peter More transforms two songs of wildly different origins into a beautifully unified musical expression. With each track featuring a hard-hitting guest verse from former Fugees collaborator John Forté, the soulful and solemn “Instead” finds an unexpected counterpart in “Chan Chan”: a spirited cover of the classic Cuban song penned by Compay Segundo and popularized by Buena Vista Social Club. Merging folk and hip-hop, Cuban son music and Spanish flamenco, the result is a graceful entwining of so many eclectic styles and stories, revealing More’s depth and originality as both artist and interpreter.
Not only steeped in More’s lifelong affinity for Latin American music — an element informed by spending much of his childhood at his grandmother’s home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico — “Instead” / “Chan Chan” also closely reflects the rich cultural diversity within his band. In addition to Mexican bassist Diego Noyola and French-American drummer Adrien Faunce, the band’s lineup includes Spanish guitarist José Juan Poyatos (a flamenco-guitar virtuoso from whom More took private lessons during a semester abroad in Madrid). While touring behind his debut album Beautiful Disrepair (a 2018 release produced by Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen), More and his fellow musicians began performing a medley made up of “Instead” and “Chan Chan,” with Poyatos singing lead vocals on the latter and putting a flamenco-leaning twist on the track — a dramatic departure from the original version’s abundant use of a three-stringed Cuban instrument called a tres.
With an early-2019 trip to Cuba deepening the band’s connection to “Chan Chan,” More’s rendition took on even greater poignancy thanks to an encounter with Forté at a friend’s house on Martha’s Vineyard later that year. “We’d always have jam sessions out back at the house, and one night I was playing ‘Chan Chan’ and John asked if he could jump in,” More recalls. “He did this verse that I loved right away, so when we recorded it later I asked him to be on the track.”
Despite sharing the same key and understated intensity, “Instead” and “Chan Chan” arise from nearly opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. “I wrote ‘Instead’ sitting in my bedroom back when I was living in Brooklyn, at a time when I was feeling a little helpless about the situation I was in,” says More. “It’s a song about that feeling of trying so hard to fix something or make it better, when really you just need to let it go.” In stark contrast to that heavy-hearted mood, “Chan Chan” unfolds as an impossibly romantic love story (the translation to one particularly ardent lyric: “The love that I have for you/I can’t deny it/I drool a bit/I can’t help it”).
Threading a taut narrative between “Instead” and “Chan Chan,” Forté embodies a fearless honesty in recounting his own stranger-than-fiction story. A classically trained musician who earned a Grammy nomination for his work on The Fugees’ iconic album The Score, Forté found himself at loose ends after the commercial failure of his acclaimed debut album Poly Sci, eventually getting caught up in a drug-trafficking operation and spending seven years in federal prison after a bust at Newark Airport. With his verse on “Instead” offering a clear-eyed reflection on his life-changing missteps, his contribution to “Chan Chan” sheds light on the profound promise in rebirth and love.
In recording “Instead” and “Chan Chan” at Arlyn Studios in Austin, More deliberately preserved the back-porch intimacy of his first meeting with Forté, all while capturing the joyful vitality of the band’s live performance. “We’re at such a cool moment in music right now, where people are collaborating and crossing genres in ways that haven’t ever been done before,” says More. “I think the beauty of music is that you can take it in any direction you want, and I hope everyone’s excited to go on that journey with us with these songs.