By: Staff –
To celebrate the release of his latest single “Paper Thin”, singer-songwriter Peter Katz curated a brand new Spotify playlist of songs that influenced both the new track and his forthcoming album, Like We Used To Be.
“Dizzy” – Azure Ryder
This song is a new discovery for me, just love the vibe on it so much. She manages to create a memorable verse, pre-chorus and chorus all over the same two chords. How does she do that?!?! Great melody, great production, and these lyrics that just jump out and hit you “Even though my heart gets dizzy I know I’m on the way. Never gonna get anywhere if I don’t go, never gonna find love if I don’t show up.” Clear, poetic but not needlessly clever, evocative and just right.
“When I’m With Him” – Empress Of
As I got more and more focused on drums/vibe in my musical life and tight/hooky pop writing, this song jumped out at me. I just love the drum loop and the way she spins these amazing melodies over top of the whole thing. And then all of a sudden in the second verse when she starts singing in Spanish! That feels like such an inspired moment to me. Like, “I just NEED to say this in this other language cause that’s true for me”. That’s how I interpret that moment. I love that.
“Don’t Leave” – MØ
The night I saw MØ play live was the night that my view on pop music fully changed. There was so much authenticity and energy and love and catharsis. It was a transformative experience. I think I had still been holding on to a bit of a snobbery or something thinking that pop music wasn’t REAL music but MØ proved me wrong and opened the floodgates. Of all the songs she played that night, this song was just so explosive, the ‘wait for it’ drop at the end, was just this POWWWWWW. It was so good.
“Split Stones” – Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers was another artist who really opened my eyes to the power of pop music. She got in to music through the roots/folk world, so the songwriting is really sound, the lyrics are from the heart and authentic, everything is well crafted, but it makes you dance. I love that. I also got to see her live at the Phoenix in Toronto and she tore the roof off the place. The energy was just pouring over the stage and flying around the room.
“There’s No Way (feat Julia Michaels)” – Lauv and Julia Michaels
I’ve been following Julia Michaels for a while now. I actually did a cover of the Beebs song “Sorry”, which she co-wrote, and when I posted it she had given it a little ‘heart’ emoji or something. I started really paying attention to her work and quickly realized she was one of the most powerhouse writers working right now. Her melody writing is so crazy good. It SOUNDS simple, but it’s not. Same goes for the lyrics, they sound just like words that people say, but they cut right to the core. There’s an art to that that’s not easily achieved. (Another great example is ‘If The World Was Ending’, a song she did with JP Saxe)
“2009” – Mac Miller
This song just knocked me over when I first heard it. There’s this orchestral magic to start things off and then the coolest little piano lick and vibey drums. I love how authentic he delivers the verses too. So much nuance to his voice and it feels like you’re just listening to his stream of consciousness. I’m also a sucker for that nostalgia feeling which this has in spades. Looking back, reflecting on the present, that just hits me.
“Paper Thin” – Peter Katz
They said I was allowed to put one of my own in, so here I am. “Paper Thin” for me I think walks the line between my singer-songwriter roots and my desire to move towards pop music at this time in my life. And I think it straddles the line between the Jason Isbell/Joni Mitchell on this playlist and the MØ and Julia Michaels. This song started as just an acoustic song, but then the producer Derek Hoffman pulled it into this whole other world, and that moment informed the sound of everything I’ve made since.
“Pain” – The War On Drugs
This whole record (A Deeper Understanding) is a masterpiece from beginning to end. Of all the records I’ve listened to from beginning to end over the last couple of years, this is probably the one I’ve done that with the most. I don’t know how to describe his music exactly, but it hits me right in my chest and more than anything, it just gives me a vibe, a feeling, it allows me to be with myself. I’ll put this on and go walking for an hour, or more. The music is just there, in my ears, keeping me company, giving a soundtrack to my experience of being a human in the world trying to figure things out, and I love it.
“If We Were Vampires” – Jason Isbell
This is my singer-songwriter roots showing but when I decided to venture into pop, I set a very clear rule for myself that the songs needed to still be great songs. As in, someone could hack it out on an acoustic guitar around a campfire and you’d still feel like ‘yes, that’s a great song’. So at my core, I will always have a deep love for the best of the best songwriters, and Jason Isbell has to be at the top of that pile. This song is just so deadly good I can barely believe it. I can’t get through the lyrics without tearing up. It just feels like such a ‘truth of life’ is captured here. It’s tragic and beautiful and perfect. The human experience bottled up in three minutes.
“Elegy” – Leif Vollebekk
Talk about vibe… I feel like listening to Leif, you feel like he’s just in your living room, sitting at your piano, and he’s improvising lyrics/melody and just channelling the songwriting gods as he’s doing it. This music just makes me think of being home, lights a bit low, cooking a meal, feeling the moment, living, holding on, letting go. It’s so good.
“Both Sides Now” (the 2000 release version) – Joni Mitchell
I mean… what can I say. Google the lyrics to this song and be with them. There is no more perfect song written on earth. There’s no more perfect capturing of the beauty and tragedy of the human experience than this song. It’s astounding. And I of course love the original version that she put out in 1969, but hearing her sing it all those years later, in that lower, “lived” voice. It’s just unbelievable. About every six months I just pull up these lyrics and read them, and every time I find something new and every time I can’t believe how perfect they are.
“Spiegel im Spiegel” – Arvo Pärt, Angèle Dubeau, La Pietà (from the Arvo Pärt: Portrait Album)— there are many versions
This is the perfect closer to the playlist I think. Just a moment of grounding and presence. I feel like I’ve been running at such a high pace these last few years (or maybe my whole life…). The way that I come back to earth and feel grounded is by going on these long walks, often at night, and listening to music like this. I feel like I have this cinematic soundtrack to the world, and it allows me to just drop in to my body, my heart, and feel that sense of presence and basic aliveness.