After taking a listen to his music, it’s no surprise Peter Chapman has one of the most impressive portfolios of any Canadian composer his age. He’s scored a range of television including SESAME STREET, DURHAM COUNTY and most recently he’s written music for the critically-acclaimed Playstation 3 game MOD NATION RACERS. The now 30 year-old Chapman takes some time, while surrounded by his vintage synthesizers, guitars, and samplers, to chat with Indoor Boys about his past, present, and probable future.
Interview and photography by Connie Diletti, audio and video courtesy of Peter Project
IB: Who is Peter Chapman?
P: Peter Chapman is actually a really scary convicted murderer from the UK that shares my name. As a joke I changed my Facebook profile picture to his and subsequently got a LOT of very angry emails. So, yeah… Maybe Peter Chapman is also a guy in Toronto with a bad sense of humor…
IB: What do you do for a living?
P: I write music for TV/film/video games/multimedia out of my 1 room studio.
IB: How did you get into playing/composing music?
P: I knew it was something I wanted to do when I was about 20. I’ve always been really into writing and producing music, but wasn’t sure how to make a living doing it. By the time I was finished with my diploma at OCAD [Ontario College of Art & Design], I knew this was what I wanted to do. I was ready to sell out before I’d even really started! I was introduced to a new friend who was starting up a small 2 man jingle house. They were into the music I’d been writing, and threw me enough work writing ad music to get my chops up and my reel filled. I eventually was put in touch with an agent who took me on, and it’s been a blast ever since.
IB: Who has been your biggest musical influence(s)?
P: My friends all make fun of how into Beck I am. But I actually owe more to his music than just influence. All through high school, I was a hardcore devotee of underground garage rock, punk rock and 60’s surf music. I totally rejected everything mainstream, and produced. Then I remember rediscovering Odele in the summer of 2000, and sort of had my mind blown. That record opened me up to hip-hop and electronic stuff. It was sort of a lifeline out of the noisy trash rock I’d been immersed in throughout high-school. I’m all over the place now, and constantly trying to get excited by new music, which I find gets harder as you get older. Lately I’ve been really into Deadmau5, and Wolfgang Gartners stuff. I spent a lot of the summer listening to John Powell’s Bourne Supremacy stuff. And I often go really far into super-produced pop music, just to see what’s going on. Stuff that I’m honestly too embarrassed to mention here.
IB: What was your childhood like?
P: It was pretty cool. I’m pretty sure I was as awkward and weird as the next teen. I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which was an amazing city to grow up in, though I keep hearing violent horror stories now. My friends and I certainly weren’t the popular jocks of any of the schools we attended, but in retrospect we were way cooler than most kids. We were kind of the arty, weird, stoner kids hanging out in coffee shops and watching weird movies. I tried my hand at being a jock until I was about 14. I sucked at baseball, and had no idea what I was doing in football (my technique was to run into whoever was in front of me really hard). My best friend and I played in a really cool surf band throughout high-school which was pretty much where I learned to play guitar.
IB: What do you get most nervous about?
P: Ha. It would be easier to answer what DOESNT make me nervous. I’m a pretty driven guy, so I get nervous that I’m not living my life to it’s fullest potential. I’m always trying to get better at my career, and making weird bucket lists to make sure I’m doing awesome things. I get nervous that as I get old, I’ll lose touch with the things that inspired me in my youth. It gets harder as you get older to get really excited about things like music and movies. So you have to work a little harder to dig into new things to find the awesomeness. Also, when I was in my early 20s, cute girls used to make me so nervous I’d get dizzy and almost puke. Now they just make me nervous.
IB: What are you passionate about?
P: It would be pretty obvious if I said music, right? But it’s true. All day long, I’m either listening to it, writing it, or reading about it. The internet has made everything happen so fast, that you really have to stay on top if it, and it’s my job to stay on top of it. So, I get excited about learning new styles of music, production techniques, and artists.
IB: What kind of artist are you? What kind of artist would you like to evolve into?
P: I think I’m still very much finding my “style” of music. I have a lot of the jack-of-all-trades thing happening right now. I’m routed in catchy pop melody, but still produce electronic/hip hop, and recently started studying orchestral arrangement. Classical music has stood the test of time, and will always be relevant, so I’ve been throwing more and more orchestral arrangements into my music. I’m really happy with the direction I’m moving in, so I think I’d like to just evolve into a better, more skilled version of myself.
IB: Would you say you are a nerd? Why/Why not?
P: I am a total nerd. The thing is, being really into something even slightly esoteric seems to get you nerd status. The word nerd seems to have evolved to mean “knowledgeable and passionate about something” these days. So who wouldn’t want to be a nerd?
I had a funny experience recently where I competed in a live hip hop production battle called Sound Battle Royale (which I eh-hem…took first place in…) and it was me and 31 other Toronto-based hip-hop producers. Hip-hop can have such a tough thugged-out image. Everyone’s battling, beefing and pimpin’ and super thugged-out. And you look at a lot of these dudes and they’re acting super tough and scary, but at the end of the day, they were in this competition because they were good producers. But they didn’t become good producers by shooting anyone or pimping women. They got good by sitting in front of a laptop all day sequencing MIDI data, and manipulating .wav files, and resequencing .rex files. You talk to them and they’ll tell you the sonic merits of making beats on a vintage SP-1200 because of its reduced sample rate, and 12 bit sound. Guess what, dude? You are a total… fucking… nerd. Stop acting tough, and go reboot your MacBook.
IB: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
P: Hopefully doing the same as what I’m doing now. Just more, bigger and better. Wrinklier, grayer and probably a bit fatter.
Click on the tracks below to listen Peter’s music
To listen to more of Peter’s music check out his website.