Peter Hall – Light The Stars (Q&A)

Light The Stars, Peter Hall’s new record, will be released on November 26. His Bandcamp page features a short review in which his music is described as intimate, carefully crafted, and richly melodic indie pop. That is a very accurate description, and I would like to add one word to that description, namely ‘beautiful’.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

When I wrote the title track – Light The Stars, it was maybe the third song I’d written that I was really happy with since releasing my EP, There’s Something Wrong With Everyone. It fired me up, and I thought, yeah, I’m writing an album, not an ep or just a single. It’s the album’s keystone, I guess.

How did this record come together?

Slowly! It started at the beginning of the pandemic, and the whole situation for me was not conducive to anything creative at all. The outlook was so strange and scary that I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I abandoned any attempt to make anything brand new. I needed to do something though, or I’d have gone mad, so I picked on an older song and recorded a new take on that. That got me moving. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ll do that, or maybe record a cover, and that gets me in the right frame of mind to do something more creative.

After that, I was out of the blocks, and I didn’t stop writing and recording for around nine months. I work alone – both writing and recording – and tend to record as soon as it’s written, sometimes before I’ve got all the parts or words. I recorded around 16 songs and narrowed it down to 11 for the final tracklisting.  

The only exception to the working alone thing was that I was lucky to have Ben Gordelier (The Moons … & Paul Weller Band) play on a couple of tracks. He’s an amazing musician and was available due to not being able to play live. Lucky for me. That really helped and made me up my game.

As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

God no! Have you seen that clip of Eliott Smith where he gets heckled by a guy saying, “grow a backbone!” Poor guy. He responds by saying he’s up there baring his soul; what more does he want? It makes you feel very vulnerable sometimes. My songs are intensely personal – even when they seem to be a story about someone else, they’re usually not! So yeah, it’s not easy because it’s all heart on your sleeve stuff. But that’s what connects with people, I guess, and I wouldn’t want to write anything that dodged a line because I was worried about what someone might think.

Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?

Everything Is Fading Fast from There’s Something Wrong With Everyone EP

Two Twenty Two

Light The Stars

I could have picked any, I guess, cos I haven’t put out a song I don’t like, but I chose these three because, to me, there’s an uplift in them, musically and lyrically. I think there’s positivity in them – even amongst the melancholy of Everything Is Fading Fast. I don’t like talking about what songs mean because I always like to come to my own conclusions when I listen to music. It can spoil it when a meaning is imposed on you by a mouthy songwriter or singer, but just to say, I think I said what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it with these songs. I like the arrangements, as well. Yeah, these three will do!

If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?

I’m picking dead people, ok, because then they have to come back and do it or risk a breach of contract, and I don’t think they want to get into all of that legal messiness. And once they’re here, they may as well stay. Them’s the rules. The only problem with these three is that I’m not sure I would dare to sing in their company. 

John Lennon

Etta James

Nick Drake

Come back, folks. It’s been too long.

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