Peter Sagar doesn’t ask for much. There is an ease the way he speaks that is evocative of the breezy melodies that course through his forthcoming album Fresh Air. There is nothing but sincerity in the way he talks about the simple pleasures of hanging out with his friends and partner in Montreal, the relief he gets through writing music and the joy he gets from recording his monthly radio show on NTS.
The artist behind Homeshake and former guitarist for Mac DeMarco seems content to drift on the current that has led to the release of two critically-lauded albums of dreamy R&B inflected indie-pop. All Homeshake’s music seems to ask of you is that you pause a moment and reflect on where you are and who you are with, to take what comes as it comes. To step out onto the balcony and let the air pass over you. If just for a minute.
Eoin Murray: Fresh Air is out so soon – how are you feeling?
Peter Sagar: Well, I finished writing and recording it ages ago so I’m relieved more than anything. I used to get anxious just waiting for the release date but I’m pretty use to it now. It was the same for the last two albums. Things take forever to come out. But I think I’m just more relaxed and less anxious all round in my life these days.
Eoin: Why do you think that is?
Peter: I don’t really know. I guess I’ve just been doing this for long enough that the waiting becomes part of the process. I used to just put music out on the internet whenever I made it and it was instant gratification… But you get used to doing it this way. It was a little frustrating at first because it takes such long time when you’re working with labels and their timelines. But I guess it’s all part of the game.
Eoin: The response to the first two tracks (Fresh Air, Every Single Thing) you’ve released from the record has been really positive.
Peter: Yeah, it feels really good. I mean, I feel way differently about the album now that I’ve had time to settle with it. I was really happy with it when I was writing and recording it… now I’m a bit tired of it. Each album I make is a snippet of my life at a given time. A few months later I’ll be a completely different person, something else will be going on and I’ll have moved on from all the things I was thinking about when I first made it.
Eoin: Does that make it feel weird then when you have to go out and perform these songs for crowds of people? How do you manage to keep it fresh?
Peter: Well luckily I have a really talented bunch of guys in my band to help change the songs up. When we do it live it’s a whole different feeling so it remains fresh and positive. And it’s nice to be able to create something that makes people feel good.
Eoin: You’ve been doing a lot of shows in the past year or two: throughout the US, Japan, Australia, Europe… Is it an enjoyable experience for you? Was there a place you enjoyed the most?
Peter: I had a lot of fun both of the times I went to Japan in 2015. They were just little solo tours though so it would be cool to back with a band. Australia and Europe were both great too though! It’s all great. Nothing is ever too different, it’s just a new setting and new people to play for. It’s refreshing.
“Each album I make is a snippet of my life at a given time. A few months later I’ll be a completely different person.”
Eoin: You’ve spoken before about the loneliness and isolation that can come sometimes when you’re on the road. Is it still something that gets to you?
Peter: Yeah, I wasn’t touring as much while I was writing this album, but loneliness is a pretty powerful feeling. When I was on the road a few years ago I found it really hard. But again, it’s nothing to complain about! It’s just not necessarily how I like to live my life all the time. I like to be grounded. I like to be at my apartment with my sweetheart, cooking dinner, watching movies with friends.
Eoin: Montreal seems like a pretty great place to live when you’re a musician.
Peter: It really is. I really wasn’t expecting to stay here for as long as I have when I first came here from Edmonton, but I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to live right now.
Eoin: Does the atmosphere and pace of Montreal affect how the music gets written?
Peter: The music I was making changed drastically when I moved here five years ago yeah. If I were to leave then I guess it would change again. But I don’t want to live somewhere that has a stressful vibe or anything like that. I’ve played with the idea of moving to Toronto but I don’t think I could handle it there.
Eoin: There’s a lot of music coming out of Montreal at the minute. Are there any particular artists we should be checking out?
Peter: I’m going to a show tonight that has three of my favourite Montreal acts playing. Un.Blonde is really great and he’s a spectacular guy too. She Devils are really special too. Then there’s a new band called Guys Number who I’m friends with, they sound like toy-R&B or something. I’m excited!
Eoin: You’ve been hosting a monthly show on NTS that’s really terrific. How did that come about?
Peter: Yeah I really love doing that. Fergus from NTS got in touch the last time we were coming to Europe and asked if we wanted to do a guest spot but we didn’t have time. I was really keen on it though so I put something together when I got home and next thing they offered me a monthly slot! But yeah I’m really fond of it, I’m a strong supporter of what they’re doing.
Eoin: You play a lot of ambient music on the show. Could you see yourself veering into making that kind of thing yourself?
Peter: Nah, I don’t think be able to pull it off. Whatever I play on the show is usually just what I’ve been listening to over the previous few weeks… But I guess I have been buying a lot of synthesisers lately so who knows. You know, you just make whatever comes out.
Eoin: Is that natural release that comes from making music something you consider therapeutic?
Peter: Immensely therapeutic. More often than not a song is just written to get over a bad feeling. And it works every time!
Eoin: It must be special to have that artistic vehicle through which you can relieve tension or sadness…
Peter: I wish everyone could do it. It would be so nice. Everyone would be so relaxed!
Eoin: You released a charity single with Alex Calder back in November with all proceeds going to International Refugee Assistance Project. How did that come about?
Peter: Like most people, I’ve just been spending a lot of time reading the news and getting depressed about the upswing of fascism and fascist sentiment all over the world right now. It just starts to make you feel sick and makes you ask yourself what the hell you’re doing about it… Alex reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do something with him. So we just put two songs together. I was really happy with how it turned out. We managed to donate a good bit of money and it’s still trickling in from the Bandcamp page. I’d like to do more things like that I think. I have some songs that I think I’ll finish off and do something similar with. It’s something more people making music should do I think. A song is such an easy thing to give.
Eoin: So what’s your plan for around the time the album drops?
Peter: I’m going on vacation the day after it comes out. And I’m going to try and stay off the Internet. Hopefully when I come back things will be doing okay! After that, in February, we’re doing a few shows in New York. Then we’re going to be doing a tour in of the west coast of the States and Canada in April and then going to Europe and the UK in May.
Homeshake’s new LP ‘Fresh Air’ is out 3rd February on Sinderlyn. He plays in London 17th May at Scala, 275 Pentonville Rd, Kings Cross, London N1 9NL