Musician seizes the muse

Regular deadline pressure is the one thing you’d think a singer/songwriter could avoid — but not Peter Katz. The Juno Award-nominated folk musician decided about a year ago to stop waiting for the muse to strike.

Regular deadline pressure is the one thing you’d think a singer/songwriter could avoid — but not Peter Katz.

The Juno Award-nominated folk musician decided about a year ago to stop waiting for the muse to strike.

He made a pledge to send his producer in Toronto a new song each week. And despite his ongoing tours through Canada and Europe, he stuck to his word, even though it often meant composing music into the early hours of the morning after shows.

“I was utterly exhausted but I had to write — and that was a challenge,” recalled Katz, who performs on Sunday at the Velvet Olive in Red Deer. “The point is, if you’re going to be a singer/songwriter, you should be songwriting, not waiting around for inspiration.”

Katz ended up surprising himself by how much creativity he was able to squeeze out at the end of a long day. “I was sort of amazed at what came out of those circumstances. I felt really inspired, and better than I’d felt at any point in my life.”

The more tangible benefit is that his latest studio album, Still Mind Still, was carved out of a mountain of new material.

“We had to be ruthless. But it became easy, almost a pleasure, to chop stuff because it was a much better position to be in than trying to cobble together 10 songs,” explained the 30-year-old Montreal native, who is now based in Toronto with his wife, a contemporary dancer.

Katz, who recorded Still Mind Still in a borrowed cabin in the woods to enhance the album’s intimate “live” feel, noted that even some tunes he liked a lot, and played in concert to great audience reaction, didn’t make the final cut.

But he reasons they could always be incorporated into a future album. “You never know. . . . ”

The singer’s 2010 album, First of the Last to Know, debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts and featured a guest appearance by Academy Award-winning singer Glen Hansard of The Swell Season (who wrote and starred in the movie Once).

Katz more recently released a live CD/DVD called Peter Katz and Friends: Live at the Music Gallery, an intimate snapshot of him playing for a room full of people — and it earned a Juno Award nomination.

“I was sort of stunned,” he recalled. “I didn’t know how, or why, but there it was.”

While getting the Juno attention didn’t change his life, Katz, who already has his albums distributed internationally, believes it helped open a few more doors.

“Ultimately, my job description stays the same but it sure doesn’t hurt.”

For more information about his Red Deer concert, call 403-340-8288.

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