CMJ Interview with Peter Peter

Over the years the CMJ Music Marathon has turned into an annual proving ground for emerging artists. With all of the buzz surrounding the event and the multitude of industry professionals who descend on New York City for the week, it would be fair to say that the artists may feel a bit of pressure to make it one of their best performances.

One might think that the possibility of no one in the crowd understanding a single word that you sing might add to those pressures, but for francophone singer-songwriter Peter Peter the thought didn’t even cross his mind, “Didn’t even think about it, thanks for bringing that up [laughs]. But, speaking for myself, and what I’ve experienced, pretending English is my first language would hinder my music from travelling way more than singing in French.”

Being in the audience for his set at Arlene’s Grocery we witnessed firsthand that Peter’s ability to connect with the crowd was not hindered whatsoever by any language barriers. Peter draws on his experiences of watching other artists as a basis for his live sets. For him a good live show is one that is, “A fine blend between promiscuity and irreverence. I always feel pleased when an artist succeeds at giving the best he can without making me believe I am his personal friend.”

Even with the pressure of CMJ, the objective was still the same– to deliver an engaging set and rock out just as hard as he does back home in Montreal. After the show Peter said of his CMJ experience that, “Since I started promoting my album, going outside Montreal always meant going smaller places. We were clearly more excited than usual when we got in the van to New York City, but it didn’t make any difference when we played. I tried to set the amp up as loud as I could to make sure the French wouldn’t be an issue [laughs].”

Peter’s debut self-titled album which was produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor) is available now, and I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. In our last question to Peter we asked what it was like to work with the legendary Bilerman– “I was so nervous… I thought to myself, what if the magic doesn’t show up? What if I screw the opportunity of a lifetime by doing bad in such a great place? It’s a normal feeling… I think… The magic did show up because Howard knew how to bring the songs back to their initial feelings when I got lost and confused. It happened all the time, I am lost all the time. God bless Bilerman!”

Posted on by Eric in CMJ 2011

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