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Montreal: a special place for well-travelled musicians

by Samantha Mileto January 28, 2014
Montreal: a special place for well-travelled musicians

“You have to be making roads all over the place to be taken seriously,” said Peter Katz. And that’s precisely what he’s been doing as he makes his way back to Toronto from a stop in Ottawa, one among many on his tour.

Photo by Justin Broadbent

The Montreal-born singer-songwriter began playing the piano and the violin at the age of four. As a teenager he started playing guitar, which inspired him to want to start writing his own songs. But it wasn’t until he started studying theatre at Ryerson University in Toronto that he realized music was something he wanted to pursue.

“We were doing a production of The Laramie Project and I had been writing and going to open mic’s and playing songs and the director asked if I’d write a song for the show,” said Katz. “[So], I wrote this song called ‘The Fence.’ That song changed things for me as far as realizing that this was the thing I really wanted to do. [It] was around the same time I saw Glen Hansard play and when I saw him play I was like, ‘oh man, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”

When Katz returns home to Montreal to play at Petit Campus in the Mile End on Feb. 7, he will be bringing a Juno Award nomination, a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, a CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, and an album, First of the Last to Know, that debuted at number one on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts, back with him.

Since releasing his first studio album in 2010, First of the Last to Know, he released two more albums in less than two years, Live at the Music Gallery and Still Mind Still, while also performing over 150 shows a year around the world, something he doesn’t think he’ll be doing again.

“It was just a bit too crazy,” he said. “I was in the middle of a Canadian tour, and I was having to pull over the side of the road to listen to mixes and send feedback and looking at album artwork on my iPhone. I don’t regret it, [but] I really don’t want to do that again. I was just in a state of mania for too long.”

Katz is taking things a little more slowly now. He’s working on his fourth album while on his current Canadian tour, but hasn’t set any release dates.

Photo by Thomas Van der Zaag

“I think I sort of did myself a disservice by setting release dates in the past and booking tours and having to have an album done. I don’t want to do that again,” said Katz. “I want to release it because it’s ready to be released. But obviously, this is what I do for a living, so if I don’t keep putting out music, then I can’t survive, but it’s more important that I make something that’s going to make a difference in my life than to just release something.”

Katz has travelled all over the world from Copenhagen to Singapore, to the US and Canada and says he’s experienced some of his best shows in the Netherlands and Denmark.

“A lot of people are like, ‘wow, you get to see all these places,’ and it’s true that I do get to see a lot of places, but I’m certainly not the tourist,” he said. “Every now and then there’s a day off on a tour, and I get to see the cities a bit and I get to go out for a dinner and that’s really nice.”

Despite all the places he’s been to, Katz says there is no place like home.

“Canada is the place where I really want to make an impact,” he said. “I really feel like some of the things [I sing about] are born out of Canada. So, it feels like I would be most understood playing for a Canadian audience, like there’s this extra level and it does feel special. I love touring in the Netherlands, I love touring in Germany, I love touring all these different places, but you want to feel like where you’re from, the people get you.”

“ You have to go to other places too in order for Canada to take you seriously. But I just love to play, and I’ll play anywhere where I could play to an audience that’s willing to listen.”

Coming home to Montreal is still always a special occasion for Katz.

“No matter how long I’ve lived in Toronto, Montreal just feels like me,” said Katz. “Obviously, when I go to Montreal, I get to see my brother and my dad and some of my old friends, that’s always something that I look forward to, personally. There’s a certain spirit to Montreal I think because of the European-French influence, there’s a certain ‘joie de vivre,’ a certain attitude that I just love and I miss and I look forward to every time I come back. I just feel like I’m in my own skin when I come back to Montreal.”

Peter Katz will play at Petit Campus, located at 57 Prince Arthur Est, on Friday, Feb. 7 and will be performing with fellow song-writer and keyboard player Karen Kosowski. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. with the show set to begin at 8 p.m. Admission is $20, and $10 for students. For more information on how to get tickets visit www.peterkatz.com/shows.

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