We asked a number of our favourite artists/ musicians to talk about the extraordinary year that was 2020. You can see what Peter had to say below…
An extraordinary year in many ways. How did it affect you specifically?
It stopped me from travelling so much. It gave me more time at home with my family. It allowed me more time for exploring in nature. Sometimes it made me depressed and lazy. Other times it made me hyper-productive. It made me wear a mask in public and it made me have to get used to seeing strangers wearing masks a lot of the time. It may have been the reason that I finally gave in and got a smartphone and started using social media. It made me realise just how much I love connecting in person with friends and family, and the magic of live concerts and gatherings of people in one space . . . as a result of a severe lack of those things.
Where did music fit in during 2020? Does it seem important?
I had an album release planned for this year, so that went ahead and I was busy trying to do what I could to celebrate and share the music from home. I recorded and played quite a bit of music at home this year. And I did a fair amount record seeking/collecting as well. Music definitely felt important to me this year. Music can be so subversive and transcendent . . . and so healing and therapeutic . . . I can’t imagine it ever being made redundant!
What albums resonated this year? Can be old or new.
I listened to a lot of Shel Silverstein this year. And a lot of other related artists who played his songs, such as Bob Gibson, whose first album from the late 1950’s, ‘Offbeat Folk Songs’, got some serious rotation on my turntable. I listened quite a bit to ‘But You Caint Use My Phone’ by Erykah Badu. I love Sam Amidon’s latest, self-titled album. I loved discovering the album ‘Kleinmeister’ by Ruth Garbus. I got a copy of ‘Everybody Digs Bill Evans’ as a birthday gift at the start of the year and have returned to it periodically throughout the whole year. After touring a bit with Peter Zummo in February I listened to a lot of his work, as well as the solo work by the Mexican cellist who played in his ensemble, Mabe Fratti . . . her album ‘Pies Sobre La Tierra’ is so beautiful, and seeing her live made my eyes well up. Sylvain Chauveau’s latest piano album, ‘Life Without Machines’, hits the spot. But yeah, I spent much of the year in a Shel Silverstein rabbit hole…
If you had to pick one album to sum up this year, what would it be?
Well for me it would be ‘Inside Folk Songs’ by Shel Silverstein. That album will probably always make me think of this year.
How have you got through the last 9 months?
I’m not gonna lie . . . I’ve done a lot of comfort eating! Treating myself to delicious meals and snacks almost daily. For the first lockdown, I was much more disciplined and healthy, but for the second one, I kind of let go a bit. But I’ve done some really healthy stuff too. I’ve done a lot of foraging and basket-making this year. And I’ve had quite a few recording projects to work on at home, so those have kept me busy. I also put together and published a little book of ridiculous poems (mostly for kids, I suppose), which was a fun little project that kept me going for while…
Are you working on any interesting projects?
At the moment I’m kind of winding down after a busy year of all different kinds of projects. But one thing that I’m starting to think about and work on a bit is a record (or possibly double record) of long-form, more ambient, soundscape type of work. This year I was more focused on songs and songwriting, but I’m starting to shift a bit again to some other sonic terrains. Also, I started to write a book about foraging in Ireland, so hopefully, I can pick back up on that at some point as well.
Any hopes for next year?
Well, firstly I hope as many of us as possible can be as healthy as possible and I hope the gripping fear that captivated so many of us this year will start to dissolve. Personally, I hope to spend more time outdoors and possibly even shift the focus of my work to be more around working in and with the natural world somehow. At the moment I’m still so busy with music that it’s hard to really shift my energy elsewhere, but Universe, if you’re reading this, please know that my love for foraging and wild foods is deep and pure and that if there’s a place for me to work somewhere in that field, I’m all yours!