Journeyman; An Interview with Peter More

After touring all around the world for two years, singer/songwriter Peter More came back to work on music to follow his debut album Beautiful Disrepair. The experience of recording Disrepair included having the production done by Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen).  

The double single “Instead / Chan Chan” leads More channeling more folk, hip-hop into his work along with Cuban and Spanish flair. The recording took place at Arlyn Studios in Austin, with John Forté (former Fugees collaborator) at the helm this time. The duo of More and Forté preserved their first meeting’s intimacy, all while capturing the joyful vitality of the band’s live performance.

What was about music that lured you into wanting to be a musician?

I was exposed to a lot of music and art growing up and my dad always played guitar to me when I was little. I was into painting and drawing through the years, but I loved writing and the collaborative side of playing music with people, so I got more into writing and recording with friends as the years went on and finally formed a band in college.

You have been quite nomadic in terms of living places. With each location you have called home, including your hometown, what have been the biggest takeaways for you?

I’ve always found living in different places to be inspiring. Whether it’s the culture, musicians, different routines, surroundings, etc. – it seems to affect the creative process. With Mexico, it was living in the mountains and the vibrant colors of San Miguel. With Brazil, it was the rainforest and people doing Capoiera next to our shows on the beach. Puerto Rico offered a deep Caribbean lifestyle while Texas has always maintained a rural simplicity that I love. 

Reading about your background, it seems that you had the fortunate experience of being around art and the various degrees of such. Looking back, do you think that you were appreciative of being immersed in that life?

Yes, for sure. I’ve always been deeply grateful for my parents fostering such a creative environment growing up.

You spent most of your childhood with your grandmother. What are some of your fondest memories of her?

I spent most of my childhood with my parents, but my grandmother lived in the neighborhood and was often hosting parties and events at her house. She was a true patron of the arts, so lots of my memories involved the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Kimbell Art Museum, galleries down in Mexico, etc. Towards the end of her life, I would play guitar and sing for her while she decorated and colored old fabrics and pillows with Prismacolor markers. 

You had an opportunity to have a run-in with Donald Fagan, who later would produce two of your previous efforts. What could you tell us about working with him you took away?

Working with Donald was a wonderful experience and he became a mentor to me. Aside from being a brilliant musician, Donald has a keen intellect and a great sense of humor. We randomly met him and his wife Libby Titus in San Miguel, Mexico and they liked our music, we became friends and later started working on an album together. Donald has a special ear and is always striving to get the best out of each song in the studio. 

I enjoyed reading the meeting between you and John out in Martha’s Vineyard. 

John jumped in to sing a verse and you immediately were excited about it. What was going through your mind when John started singing?  

We were sitting on the back porch passing guitars around, I was playing “Chan Chan,” and John jumped in on a verse. I was pretty blown away by his singing – his voice, lyrics, flow, etc.

Before that night, our guitarist Jose and I talked about recording a medley of “Instead / Chan Chan.” I asked John if he wanted to be a part of it and he said, “How about 1 o’clock? I got a studio downstairs…” so we started demoing it. John is an amazing artist and person; it was a real pleasure working together. 

Your latest singles highlight a dramatic turn in your previous effort’s sound. Did you find this shift almost like you were starting fresh as a musician?

No, it was all pretty seamless. Mixing genres and styles has always been one of the cool things about music to me. 

With the approach you took with the singles, do you see a shift in your writing process?

No, I think it’s cool for anyone’s writing to evolve over time stylistically, etc. but the process itself has pretty much remained the same for me. 

When deciding to cover Buena Vista Social Club’s “Chan Chan,” what was it about the song that spoke to you so much?

I just grew up loving that album. Then, Jose and I started playing “Chan Chan” in Mexico and Puerto Rico, so we started incorporating it into a medley with our song “Instead,” and it seemed to work well sonically and conceptually. 

Working with Forte, are you starting to think about doing more collaborations with other musicians?

I’m always open to it. I think it’s one of the best things about art and music. 

What was the reasoning behind dropping singles instead of an EP or LP?

We had played “Instead” and “Chan Chan” as a medley, so we wanted to record and release it that same way, with one song flowing into the next. 

After spending the past two years touring all over the world, do you find yourself missing being on the road during these uncertain times?

Absolutely, it’s profound what’s happening in the world right now. It makes us all realize how much we miss the simple things when they’re suddenly taken away indefinitely. 

You have lived a life that most dream of wanting to be a part of. All these happenstances with your interactions with folks like Forte and Fagan. What do you contribute to this wealth of luck? 

Just being open to meeting and working with people. Both experiences were serendipitous path crossings that lead to working on projects together