"Just Kept Moving Forward": My Interview with R.I.Peter on his Upcoming Debut Album
Image by Quinn Hernandez & Myself
Kansas City musician Peter Beatty releases his debut full-length album via Manor Records tomorrow! I got a chance to have a quick chat about his gamer beginnings and the musical journey he's been on for the last 10 years or so. This album is everything I love about music; it's soft, tender and really fucking emotional and introspective. Check out the singles on Spotify or HERE on Bandcamp, and be sure to listen/order a cassette!
Tell us a bit about the evolution of your sound and how your upcoming album is different from your 2019 EP.
I’d say the sounds shift, not only from a sonic standpoint, but from an audio production standpoint, too. The EP was my first real dive into making my own music completely solo, so on the production/recording side of things I was honestly just winging it lol. My band (Momma’s Boy) was making fun garage rock so the EP was my chance to make something quieter, more scenic and filled with 1,000-part harmonies. On my upcoming record, I’ve solidified some of my production chops, which allowed me to just sit back and have some fun in the studio. You’ll hear a lot of pop/indietronica/glam rock inspired tracks on the record, it was a lot of fun to make.
Tell us about the singles already released from this album, what are they about and how do they reflect the album?
Green House is a whacky rock ballad about a narrative I came up with about my neighbors. In my fantasy, they brew a tea that they hand out to folks in the neighborhood, sending them on a hallucinatory journey, the shift in the song reflects the narrator also drinking the tea. It’s fun!
In Your Eyes is a super squishy love song about someone I had a huge huge crush on a while back. I think honest vulnerability opens up the listener to experiencing what the artist intends with their work. Even tho the lyrics may have felt slightly cheesy to me as I wrote them, I felt like leaning into that and being sincere can elevate the impact of a song.
Soft Serve is in a similar vein as In Your Eyes, story wise. The main theme is emotional fragility - for whatever reason the narrator doesn’t know if they can handle more hurt. I wrote/recorded a lot of the songs on my Yamaha DX7 synth which was a staple in the 80s, it has a lot of really great ambient sounds and I used those to their full power on this track.
Has working in the service industry affected your music at all?
Good Q! A lot of the people I’ve met thru the industry and experiences I’ve had did directly inspire some of the tracks. On a more macro level, It not-so-directly inspired some songs thru my personal experiences and all the emotions one feels while frantically serving tables at a restaurant in general. It changed the course of my life after quitty my stuffy office job, which certainly opened me up to even dreaming of putting out an album!
Was this written primarily during the shutdowns? Has the pandemic given you more of a chance to work on your music?
I wrote/recorded the record from about July 2019-October of 2020. Basically as soon as my EP was finished, I didn’t stop writing and just kept moving forward. I lost my serving job during The Shutdown, which gave me more time & energy to put behind the project. I honestly can’t say that the album would still be coming out if it weren’t for that. I’m absolutely grateful I was in a position where I could comfortably record from home over those many months.
How has your time with Momma’s Boy and Rev Gusto influenced your personal project?
I’d say ~90% of the musical experiences I’ve had in my life are connected to these two bands. To say they’ve deeply influenced who I am as a person and musician would be an understatement! I learned, not only how to perform live, record, book tours, etc., but also how to be a good and flexible avg Joe who gets along with his compatriots. I don’t know if I could give a specific list of how they’ve influenced my music and my life, but the intangible influences are huge and have shaped who I am as a person and musician today.
What inspired you to start a solo project? Where did the name come from?
In the first band I was in, Rev Gusto, I was more or less just part of the backing back to a (very talented) singer/songwriter, with a little influence on how things were written. In Momma’s Boy I took over portions of the songwriting process which was great! It pushed my creative boundaries to a whole new level. But, I still felt like there was a musical itch that wasn’t being scratched. R.I.Peter not only scratched the itch, but put me on a new creative trajectory, it was an unexplored territory for me, which was challenging, confusing, but mostly fun.
The name is a reference to the saying The Kids use: “thats a rip.” “ohh man, big rip.” - it’s kinda the new “epic fail.” The name is a nod to that, and I just enjoy the vibe of the name, it also could look like I’m a oil procurer or author from the 1800’s. R.I. Peter. Lots of fun stuff here.
Your music video for Cruisin’ and Rising sun was filmed in the countryside of Kansas where you grew up. Do you find nature to be a source of inspiration for your music? How does your connection with nature benefit you as an artist?
IT WAS ;). That shoot was such a great time. I absolutely do, but I’d say it inspired my first EP more than the upcoming album. Inspiration for the album mostly came from the mundane, random collective life experience, I feel the record is a pretty accurate representation of me as a person, in that respect. Genre and mood wise, it’s pretty all over the place haha. I think my connection to nature fits into the overall soundscape of my music. I love painting a picture with music, I’m a big fan of ambient and instrumental stuff -- it paints a picture and tells a story without words, only in the mind of the listener. I think nature does the same thing.
How has your gaming history impacted your music? Have you used elements of their music in your own work?
Video games have always been a source of comfort and fun for me, since I was a kid. Jumping back to the last question a bit… Sound design and music in video games is used solely to enhance the narrative or scenery of the game. It makes you feel emotions, or strengthens the feeling a particular space may give you. Growing up with Nintendo and games like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the music was always so intoxicating to me. I want to capture that feeling in my music, too.
Tell us about the instruments you used in Soft Serve, have you learned how to use any new equipment for this album?
The album was recorded in my lil scrappy home studio. Most of the keyboard parts were played on one of two synths: Most sounds came from my 1984 Yamaha DX7 and I used a Yamaha MX49 for a lot of the underlying/background/textural sounds. I really learned how to use these two boards throughout the album, I think that opened a lot of sound-doors for me! Also, just learning some audio production and recording tricks expanded my sound vastly too. I experimented with all sorts of textures on all parts of my songs: vocals, guitars, drums, all of it! It was a fun and experimental process for me.
Who did the cover art and how does it represent what to expect before listening?
A wonderful, currently london-based, artist named Hailey Savage worked with me on the art. I gave her some inspiration and creative direction and she brought my idea to life! She’s the best!!! She paints very cool and surreal land/cityscapes that instantly caught my eye. It really felt like she and I were on some sort of shared artistic wavelength. As I kinda described before, the art has a surreal but comforting aura to it. It’s somewhat random and confusing, but familiar at the same time. I think my album has that same quality.