INTERVIEW: Peter Katz

Hi Peter, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been doing ok thanks. Obviously a very strange time, but first and foremost, I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and my friends and family are safe and healthy so far, so that feels like a lottery win in this current climate.  I’m also someone who gets really tunnel-vision focused on work, so this time has been one of the most productive periods of my life.  I know it’s a privilege to be able to say that with some of the things that people are going through and the situations they find themselves in.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Paper Thin”?

I’m just so proud to have this song out in the world.  The NPR host Ira glass has this great piece that he wrote about being a creator and struggling to make something that actually matches your taste, but that if you keep creating and pushing yourself, then at some point you hit the mark. I feel that way about “Paper Thin”.  It says everything I wanted/needed to say in that moment, and the production on it (courtesy of Derek Hoffman) just elevates the whole thing beyond what I thought possible when Kyler England and I first wrote the song.  “Paper Thin” feels like the start of something new, it feels like a fresh start for me as an artist.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

When I was 18 years old, I moved from Montreal to Toronto to go to university. But before moving into my new place in Toronto, I spent a night at this Motel 6 on the side of the highway, feeling like I was crossing a ‘life threshold,’ starting out a new life in in a new city.

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 needing to start my life all over again. I ended up in the same Motel 6, and I was struck by this feeling as I entered my room, where the time between my visit as an 18 year old and the present felt ‘paper thin.’  Time had compressed.  And to be honest, I felt ‘paper thin’ also.   The nugget of the song was born that night.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the single?

Yep! Juno-Award winning director Justin Broadbent made a really cool video for it that we just released.  I was telling him about how dance and movement had been a really significant healer and cathartic thing in my life and he had the idea of having me make a dance video (which if you’ve seen my older work, is definitely out of the ordinary). I love how it turned out.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was really amazing.  I brought that ‘paper thin’ nugget idea to a writing session with Kyler England when I was in LA for this 2-week writing intensive.  She had been going through her own ‘life threshold’ moments and even though we had never met before, we just had this instant emotional connection.  10 minutes after meeting we were pouring our hearts out and in to writing the song.  It was a beautiful day. One of my favourite things about writing with other artists is you have permission to just ‘go there’. Emotional connection is the goal, so there’s not a lot of small talk.  The actual recording was also kind of magical.  The original version of the song was just an acoustic track, pretty folky, but the album I wanted to make was much more of a dance/pop feeling, so it was looking like the song wouldn’t be part of the album. But I wanted it to somehow be on there because of all the songs I wrote, it captures an essence of the last few years of my life more than anything else.  Thankfully as soon as Derek heard it, his eyes lit up and he just started building up a totally unexpected approach. There was a moment where he finally muted the acoustic guitar and every hair on my body stood up.  I was like ‘ohhhhhh yes!!’   That moment shaped the sound of the entire record to come.

What role does Alberta play in your music?

Well a couple of things.  For one, in my early days of touring (and ever since) Alberta was always the place where I got to start playing the kinds of shows I actually wanted to play. People just started taking hold more quickly there, I got to play better and better venues, and it kind of gave me hope, feeling like I was actually barking up the right tree with this whole music thing.  But the biggest “Alberta-moment” happened when I played at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod. I had never been there before, and certainly wasn’t expecting much from the show.  And yet, I walked out onstage to a packed out 300 seat theatre and an audience that knew my music and was really excited to have me there.  It was an incredibly special  (and unexpected) moment. The reason I had such a following there was because this youth mentoring program had been using my songs as part of their curriculum (totally unbeknownst to me).  There’s a longer story there, but I now actually work with that youth mentoring program every summer and it’s my favourite thing that I do.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

It sure does.  We just released single #2 (Book of Truths) which is really a companion piece to “Paper Thin”, but there’s more coming very soon. I’ve had to swear an oath of silence about what exactly, but I can say that we’re just scratching the surface with the sonic shift that’s about to happen.  I can’t wait…

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Definitely, but my lips are sealed for the time being 🙂

What aspect of your own life will you get to explore on this record?

I think the overall themes that are explored on the record are the ones that are found in “Paper Thin”, which is why I wanted it to be on the album so badly and why I wanted it to be the starting point for this whole new chapter of music in my life.   “Paper Thin” is about restarting and that strength that we find in ourselves during our hardest moments. That theme is ever-present in this music.  I can often fall into the trap of overthinking, getting really cerebral with things, so I wanted the music to be created in a way that it pulls you OUT of your head and you feel it in your body first (thus the more dance/pop feeling to it).  Through catharsis and release, I think we’re able to heal and a new sense of self emerges. At least that’s been true for me.

What else is happening next in Peter Katz’s world?

There’s huge behind-the-scenes work going on right now to give every song its proper moment in the sun.  Creating videos, copy, special content, etc etc.  I’m just so proud of it, there’s no lack of motivation to try to get it heard and given a proper chance out in the world.   Obviously the goal is to get back out on the road and deliver these songs with amazing energy swirling around the room, but for now we’re just making sure the music finds people, and I’m doing a lot of personal virtual concerts, connecting with core fans and creating new ones along the way I hope.  But I have a vision for the live show based on this music, and someday (soon I hope), I’ll get to deliver on it!

Listen to “Paper Thin” on Soundcloud or Spotify

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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