What is your name?
The concept behind this project is similar to Gorillaz or The Weeknd, so I just go by the band name ‘The Peace Option.’
Where are you located?
I am in Toronto, Canada.
What is your artist’s name?
The Peace Option is a name from a project I produced for another artist, and I was most of the supporting ‘band.’ When the time came to do a project of my own, I decided to keep it.
How long have you been writing music?
In childhood, from my first days of piano lessons, I would write music. I used to compose rather than practice scales, and my teacher let me get away with it.
In the ’80s, I had a songwriting partner and a publishing deal with peermusic Canada that I signed for $1. We wrote a ton of songs for singers who we hoped to get signed, and we had one successful artist with an album that went platinum in Canada. We had another near-miss with a song that they tried to get onto the soundtrack of the movie ‘The Bodyguard (the big one that got away).
There were a couple of minor successes from those days; but finding an artist, demoing the song, and shopping it to the gatekeepers in that era was time-consuming, arduous, and costly, with no placement guarantees. I must have burned out on all of it because suddenly, one day I realized that 20 years had passed since I last wrote a song. I hadn’t noticed that I had stopped writing, but I absolutely had. But like many, I took a minute to examine my life when the pandemic hit. I asked myself what I hoped to leave behind if I died tomorrow. Long story long, I tinkered around with a few musical ideas and rediscovered a deep love of songwriting.
What inspired you to start playing and making music?
I have no idea why I do this. I don’t come from a musical family. But my Mom encouraged me, and I started young - first on the accordion because we couldn’t afford a piano. But later, we got one. And I played drums in high school. By grade 11, I knew that I wanted to be a recording engineer/music producer, so that has been my career.
What are your favorite artists or other artists that inspire you to write music?
There are many, and I take inspiration from almost everything I hear. My favorites would be Steely Dan, Prince, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Jimmy Webb, They Might Be Giants, Deerhoof, and St. Vincent.
How would you describe your style of music?
I crawl across the spectrum between rock and jazz. I tend to write slightly snarky up-tempo rock contrasted with melancholic jazz-adjacent ballads. And I have a strange predilection toward bossa nova, as well. Go figure.
How is your personality reflected in your work?
My songs are full of stupid little puns, plays on words, innuendo, inside jokes, and the odd crass/tasteless remark. That pretty much sums up my outward personae.
I would like to think that the more poignant/poetic stuff that sometimes appears is also a part of my personality – I secretly strive to create something strong and beautiful.
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
When I am ‘on’, I am obsessive. I examine everything by filtering whether it works in a song context. Random things people say, interesting visual stimuli, etc., are all scrutinized as to whether I can make them work lyrically. I keep a notebook beside my bed, and have ruined many nights sleep jotting stuff down – though I have often found elusive finishing lines to songs in that way.
Other times, I just plunk around on the piano and write down the first thing that pops out of my mouth. I keep a lot of first ideas.
I am also mindful of what instrument I write with, if any. I sometimes like to write just with a bass, for example, because it doesn’t paint me into a corner harmonically.
What is the name of your latest releases?
This first album has no title, just the band name: The Peace Option.
What was the inspiration for that release?
After spending many years writing and producing music for other people – and as a consequence, not always loving the music-by-committee-type results - I decided to make an album that I would enjoy listening to.
Can you tell us any behind-the-scenes stories about writing or producing this release?
I bought an electric bass for the project. Hadn’t played one in over 20 years. The bass overdubs were probably the most fun that I had. I also had to re-learn to play the drums. I still need more practice!
I would record little bits and pieces whenever I had a free moment – sometimes just singing into my laptop in the car. I made Latin percussion out of stuff in the kitchen. One song I wrote in less than an hour, and a couple of others took about three months to finish.
What do you do to promote your music?
This interview is probably the biggest thing I’ve done so far regarding promotion. A friend told me about GetMusic, and it has been excellent in helping to connect me with people I wouldn’t reach otherwise. Aside from that, I have been making Tiktok videos using AI-generated images. I’m not exactly comfortable in front of a camera, so I thought I could use digital avatars to make lip-sync videos. The results have been humorous and sometimes surprisingly convincing. But so far the videos have not reached a larger audience, nor have they prompted any click-throughs to Spotify or Bandcamp.
What are you currently working on?
I just played piano and drums on a new artist’s song. She’s a friend in the U.K. She is Sarah Thirtle and a brilliant songwriter (Soundcloud). I also plan to release a six-song EP with singer Joy Xande, hopefully before summer’s end. It is already recorded and mixed, and I wrote the six songs (in fact, one of them is the song mentioned above that was pitched for The Bodyguard).
How can folks contact you?
The best way to reach me is through email: email@example.com
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The Peace Option sprang into existence as a backing band to Canadian r&b / disco singer Joy Xande. With her EP still awaiting release, TPO has plunged forward to make a record of their own.
Drawing from classic yacht rock influences such as Steely Dan and Hall & Oates, The Peace Option creates harmonically rich and lyrically multi-layered songs which, by virtue of an uncommon voice, sound like no one else.
Additionally, they can bring the funk.