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Singer-songwriter Peter Katz tries new creative process for latest album

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Singer-songwriter Peter Katz will perform Thursday, May 7 at the Empress Theatre

With a Juno Award nomination to his credit and no shortage of paying gigs, singer-songwriter Peter Katz was on top of his career.
So it came as a shock two years ago when his manager told him it was time to shake things up and try a new approach.
“I didn’t love hearing it in that moment,” Katz admitted. “But somewhere in the back of my brain I knew he was probably right.”
The result of shaking things up is the new release We Are the Reckoning, a collection of 11 original songs co-written by Katz and other songwriters and produced by Royal Wood and Bill Lefler.
Katz will perform songs from We Are the Reckoning when his tour stops at the Empress Theatre for a 7:30 p.m. show on Thursday, May 7.
“I love it,” Katz said of the new album. “I’m very proud of it and I’m also very proud of the process. I really pushed myself and I feel I ended up with something that is bigger than me.”
Katz had spent a decade writing and performing his own songs around the world, with considerable success.
Katz’s work earned a 2012 Juno nomination for best music DVD, he won the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award, and hit No. 1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts several times.
Katz loved the creative control he had writing his own songs and most recently had done three national and international tours of his 2012 album Still Mind Still.
As successful as he had been in his first decade in the music business Katz, after considering his manager’s suggestion, embraced the idea of working with new people in a new way on the new album.
“I made a pact with myself a long, long time ago that I would do things that make me uncomfortable and I would do things I don’t want to do if I know they are going to lead to things that are new,” Katz said. “Discomfort is a positive thing for growth. I felt that I needed that change.”
Katz spent the better part of two years writing more than 50 songs, collaborating with co-writers in Los Angeles, London and Toronto.
Katz then went into the studio with Wood, Lefler and Juno Award-winning engineer Tim Abraham. They were joined by guest musicians such as Rachel Semanni, Ben Peeler and Felicity Williams.
Katz compared the process to being on a first date.
“You’re trying to be your best self,” Katz said. “You have to sort of prove yourself again when you’re in a room with people who are really good at what they do.”
“It pushes you to go beyond what you’re used to doing,” Katz said of other people bringing different strengths and approaches to the creative process.
Katz admits to being challenged and at times intimidated, but found the process worthwhile.
“I really feel that it worked,” Katz said. “Everybody had a different process but all of the people I got to work with were inspiring. They pushed me.”
Katz, Wood and Lefler separately went through the 50 songs and made short lists of the ones they liked for the album. Katz was interested to note that they reached consensus quickly.
Working with other contributors produced songs that are much shorter than the ones Katz writes on his own, and he likes the result.
“It’s one of the tightest records I’ve ever made,” Kaz said, noting that working with others provided him some distance from the album. “Because I allowed other people in on the process . . . I can also almost actually enjoy it more because it doesn’t feel like it’s all mine, and that’s a good thing.”
Katz is touring across Canada with a full band for the first time. The band has a drummer, bass player, keyboard player and Katz plays guitar and piano.
“It’s a really different show than I’ve ever been able to give, with a much larger dynamic range,” Katz said. “The highs are higher and the quiet moments are quieter. I’m able to do a lot more presentation with the music than in the past.”
Katz has played the Empress in the past and is anticipating a return to the intimate confines of what Fort Macleod residents know as “The Jewel of Main Street.”
“It’s a gem,” Katz said of the Empress. “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be a real special night.”