Q&A with Peter Wise: "I've Always Enjoyed Storytelling."
Brooklyn-based artist Peter Wise has crafted his own unique brand of pop and soul on his new EP, Without You Here. Out September 30th, the seven song EP fuses guitar-driven pop with soul and R&B, meshing multiple different genres together to create a sound that you just have to hear. With his stunning music video for "Sweet Solitude" out now, and Without You Here coming soon, Peter Wise is a force to be reckoned with.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who may not be familiar?
I’m a soul / pop singer / songwriter / producer based out of Brooklyn. I’ve been playing guitar since I was five years old and piano since I was six, and have been actively performing in and around the NYC area for the past five and a half years.
Where do you find your musical inspiration?
I feel like I have a pretty wide base in terms of my musical foundation. I grew up studying classical piano and guitar. When I was around twelve years old I gravitated into more rock and blues, and in high school I got into jazz and hip hop, so I like to think that I draw from a wide variety of influences. As far as lyrics are concerned, I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, and creating some type of narrative in my music, with the content often inspired by either my experience or experiences of those around me.
How do you feel the music scene in Brooklyn has affected you as a songwriter or musician? What would you like to be able to bring to your music scene?
I feel like there’s a lot of really interesting soul and r&b coming out of Brooklyn and NYC right now. There are a lot of people fusing electronic and acoustic elements into their sound and that’s something that’s definitely inspired me. Since guitar is my first instrument and what I feel the most comfortable on, I’ve always tried to incorporate guitar back into more of a pop setting, as that has been fazed out over the past 20 or so years in pop music. So I think fusing guitar centered pop into more of an r&b / soul setting is what I’m about right now.
You just recently released the music video for your single, “Sweet Solitude”. Was there any event in particular that inspired the song?
No, not really a certain event, the song came together in waves. I’ve always been a big fan of gospel music from more current artists like Marvin Sapp and Fred Hammond to older gospel artists like Walter Hawkins, and old soul artists like Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles who took gospel into more of a pop setting. So I had that hook, “Don’t leave me here alone, in sweet solitude” for awhile. It was a pretty powerful and anthemic hook, and I had these really dense chords behind it. So it took awhile to come up with exactly what I wanted to say, and how to fit in an idea over this dense chord progression. I put it all together by using this tug and pull of desperation at the end of a relationship, when you know a relationship has run its course, but you don’t want to have to face the reality of moving on from that person.
The music video is really intense! Where did the concept for it come from?
I was up late one night and couldn’t fall asleep, and this whole idea of me holding a girl and having four hooded people steal her away from me came to me, so I stayed up all night writing out the concept. I think the concept really originated from taking this idea of forces keeping two people apart despite their best intentions to come together, and developing this concept into a narrative arc. My good friend Duncan Wilder, who shot and edited the video, does a lot of dance videos of his own. So I thought it would be interesting to incorporate more of a classical / dramatic feel to the video, and give the viewers something unexpected, but hopefully something that is still intriguing and satisfying.
With “Sweet Solitude” out now, can fans expect any new music coming soon?
Yes! In fact I’m releasing a seven song EP on Friday September, 30th, with a corresponding release show in NYC at The Bowery Electric, so you’ll get a full body of work to check out very soon!
What goals do you have in mind when you’re working on new material?
I’m somewhat a perfectionist with my music and never totally satisfied with what I’m creating, but the goal is to keep getting closer to that place. I think any time I’m writing something I want it to have some kind of lyrical depth, to mean something to me personally, and still be catchy enough for the listener. I would love to say I don’t think about or pay attention to what other people say about my music, but I think for all of us that isn’t ever really true. Ultimately what I find most satisfying is making a song that tells a story, means something personal to me, and still can connect with the listener.
Do you have any other big plans for the end of 2016?
I have a number of shows this fall, starting with my release show at The Bowery Electric on Friday, September 30th at 7:30pm. After that, I’m excited to be playing my first LA show at Hotel Cafe on October 11th. I’ve got some other shows in NYC in October and a college gig in Pennsylvania in November. I’m far along into the process of recording new music, which will be coming out in 2017!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you! Please make sure to check out my EP Without You Here coming on September 30th, and stay locked on my website, peterwisemusic.com, be in the loop with upcoming shows, new music, and any other news.