Catch an interview with Peter Kelly, listen to new single "Tailwind", and look for his new album coming soon.
What got you interested in music?
Peter Kelly: Honestly, MTV. When I was a kid I used to watch MTV and I just decided that's what I want to do and, at first, it was just kind of like I want to be in a video and I want to be on T.V. and I want to have screaming girls and stuff but, once I kind of got into it, it got more about wanting to be good at what I did. I was a guitar player and I wanted to be a good guitar player. I went through the whole thing of trying to be a guitar shredder and pursued that, listening to bands like Dream Theater and Steve Morrissey and all these great guitar player types and I went to Berklee College of Music and that was where I was at, I was like I just want to be an amazing guitar player. I started to listen to more pop and singer/songwriter stuff and it switched there and I started writing a little bit, I never really sang before and I started singing and that's where it really started, was at college.
Where do your ideas come from while writing?
My ideas come from just about anything. Ideas can come from driving your car or having a conversation or watching something on T.V., it's just kind of anything that happens and being able to pick out and recognize what has the potential for being a good song, what's interesting enough to want it to be turned into a song. It can be any type of situation, like there's a new song on the album called "Suicidal" and it was just, I was sitting in the club with some friends, getting ready to do a gig, and everyone's dressed up and there's music playing and there's that atmosphere and we're all sitting around a table and everyone was just complaining about this and that and how bad life was, this was going wrong and that was going wrong, and that situation turned into a song; writing about there's this festive thing and we're all putting our happy faces on, we're all dressed up, but everyone was kind of suicidal and that was the theme behind the song. So, it's just picking out a moment, like where that was just a conversation and saying 'wow, this situation could be a story'. Things like that.
What made you decide to go solo after working with a couple of bands?
Honestly, I think I just didn't like dealing with bands anymore. Bands are great because it spreads the workload around and there's someone there to bounce ideas off of but I found, with a band, there were people whose opinions and work ethic I trusted and some people that I didn't, so it was that struggle that always kind of detracted from the whole creative process and the forward motion type of thing. I felt I was spending a lot of time dealing with internal issues and band politics, rather than let's just make this the best band or the best song or the best show we can make it. Actually, after a while, I just got fed up and I stopped making music. I was doing a cover band and then I started playing guitar for this country band and the producer was this guy, John Campos, who is the guy who produced my first EP and this new album I am working on now. He kind of got me into writing for some things he wanted to do and he became the band member: he became the guy to feed off of and work on stuff with and come up with ideas with and became like the partner. It seemed to be a better experience for me, just dealing with one person, someone who's likeminded and had the same goal and same idea, what we need to do and how it needs to get done, so I think of him as the band. It's me and him. I always talk about 'we' because he's as much a part of it as I am and it's just a simpler relationship. I have a band that I use if I do live stuff, but they're not as much our partner as they're just playing the music that I'm writing.
How would you describe your sound?
I think the music I'm doing is a hybrid of everything I've ever listened to. I say I fall into a pop type of genre, but I've listened to everything from metal to jazz to classical to classic rock to electronic dance music and singer/songwriter folk type stuff; wherever that all went in my body, it kind of mixed together and it comes out in what I sound like. I don't know that I'm going for any one thing, I think there's this element that seems to come out and I just draw from everything. It's definitely a pop type sound with a bit of a songwriter edge and I think they're maybe more musicality, in terms of the guitar playing and the way I write, they're a little more technical at times.
Are there any current artists you take inspiration from?
Right now, I really love Mumford & Sons, I think they're a great band. I like Jamie Cullum a lot. I love P!nk, I think she's such an underrated vocalist. I was watching her Storytellers the other night and it blew me away. Ed Sheeran types - singer/songwriter types - I always love those kind of people. I mean, I tend to listen to my favorites like Billy Joel and The Beatles and Dave Matthews. There's a band out of Canada called Big Wreck which is one of my favorite bands of all time, they're more of a heavy rock band. The Wood Brothers are another band I like a lot right now, they're kind of new. Those are the people I listen to the most for pleasure.
What can you tell us about the new album?
If you compare it to the other EP, I would say things are more on an upper, higher, positive note, rather than the dejected, broken-hearted type of note of the last EP. We've been working on this album for a while, there was a bit of lapsed time in the middle of it where some personal problems took over and we had to stop working for a while, but we actually started working on this album two years ago so there's a bit of what we were listening to and what we were going for then and what we're going for now, so you can hear the difference in sound. I don't know if there's any real surprises, I think it's very typical of what I do. I think, in terms of production, we pushed it; we went in two different directions in terms of what is going on right now in music and what are people doing and what types of equipment are you using to get it done and we kind of branched out, but there's nothing that's going to be like 'wow, who is doing that'. If they're familiar with my music, it's very typical of me, just new songs.
What do you think will be the most popular on the album versus which one is your favorite?
I don't know, every time we finish one, that's my favorite song. The song that we're going to be getting ready to premiere in the next couple weeks is like a love ballad called "Inside Out" and I just got the master yesterday and I love the way it sounds. I was a little concerned about how it would turn out, but it's become one of my favorites to listen to. It's kind of got this old school but of an R&B type of vibe to it and we had this guest vocalist named Eve Soto to add a bit of a soul type of sound to it. There's that song "Suicidal" that I mentioned that was one of the first songs we started working on and I got the master to that yesterday and I can't wait for people to hear that song; that's the biggest surprise, is a really unique type of dual personality song going on and I find it really interesting. We had a horn player come in and I'm really excited about that one. The first song, "Fear of Landing", that came out, I still love that one. The song's that aren't finished yet, I mean, there's one of them I just finished writing and we're starting to record it and I don't even know what it's going to sound like, so I can answer better when the album's out.
What's the best compliment you've heard about your music?
Actually, some girl wrote me last night and wrote something to the effect of 'I love your music, I listen to it every night before I go to bed' or something like that. It was on Twitter and I was actually sitting in my car, listening to my masters, and I wrote back that she made my night and I get a lot of that type of thing. I had one girl say that she was looking to buy a Bose stereo and she had one of my songs and she went to the Bose store and was blaring "Tailwind" through the Bose store. It just kind of blows me away like, wow, I made that song in a little studio in Queens and now it's being played in a shopping mall to test out the system. I'm hearing more and more of it on social media, so it's all great. It's hard to pick out what the best one is.
What do you want to do with your music?
I hope what the music does is what the music I like does to me. I don't know that I'm going for anything, I don't know what I'm trying to be different, I don't know that I'm trying to be unique, I don't know that I'm trying to be accessible, I'm trying to get out of the way of the music. Whatever feels right, whatever makes me happy, whatever makes me feel what I want to feel is just what's going down. I think, with a lot of musicians, there's this push to not be too pop-y or not be too indie or not be too this, I'm just not doing any of that. I'm writing what I like, what I would listen to; I would buy this album, if this wasn't me, this is music I like to listen to. I honestly like listening to these songs and that's what I'm trying to convey. I didn't shoot for anything other than just to make an album for the songs that I like and I want it produced the way that I like. I'm proud of what I did because I find myself walking around now, singing the songs, saying I can't believe I wrote that, I can't believe it turned out as good as it did, and you hear from people on social media and they're doing the same thing and it's exciting to see it doing what I want it to do. I want people to like it and feel good about it and be able to sing along and that's my point. I'm not trying to make a bold statement.