With NXNE happening this week it is time to get to know the artists performing right here at Harbourfront Centre. We are very excited to be hosting Gregory Pepper and his Problems. With the new record Escape From Crystal Skull Mountain coming out in August, the Guelph native is sure to entertain with a variety of new quirky, complex tunes of woe. Here’s our chat with the singsinger/songwriter:
Can we expect new Gregory Pepper songs at NXNE?
Definitely. I am just put the finishing touches on my new album, Escape From Crystal Skull Mountain, so I’ve got a ton of new tunes to try out. Plus, I’m playing solo this year so it’ll give me a chance to do a more stripped down, intimate versions of songs that were big and heavily arranged on the record.
You have an upcoming project with hip hop producer madadam called Big Huge Truck, following up on your hip-hop/indie-pop album Common Grackle. What drew you to these new sounds and projects?
Like most things, timing and coincidence played a big part. The label I’m on (Fake Four Inc) releases lots of progressive, underground hip-hop, so I ended up meeting a lot of dudes from that scene and working together on stuff. I can be a real control freak when it comes to recording, so collaborating with producers is a healthy challenge.
You’re a prolific song writer. What’s your writing process like?
If i may paraphrase: J Mascis once compared writing to fishing, so you’re there strumming away, just patiently waiting for it to come to you. And then Bukowski said it was like taking a s***. It comes out, you look at it and flush, move on to the next one. I think those are both pretty apt analogies.
What made you decide to get into podcasts with Pep Talk?
I love listening to podcasts while I draw. Some of my favorites are This American Life, Uhh Yeah Dude, WTF w/ Marc Maron, and The Big Three Podcast. So I figured I’d make my own since I have so many unused tunes kicking around. The next episode is coming out this summer, it’ll be a preview of the new record. I’m also working on a “rejection” themed episode with all the songs I’ve written for commercials, movies, and other bands that didn’t get sold. Sadly, there’s an awful lot!
What is it about Guelph that keeps you there? How has it affected your music?
Well, it’s a lot less expensive than Toronto! Big cities can feel awful cold and unconcerned, too. I honestly feel like there’s a tightly woven moral fabric in our neighborhood. Everybody says “hi” and borrows stuff from each other, and when you’re driving and your lane ends, people actually slow down so that you can merge. Not sure if the quiet life comes through on the record or not though. Folks tend to focus on lyrics so they often think my tunes are all morose, but they’re all happy songs to me, since I’m a pretty happy guy and writing them is pure pleasure.
Make sure to check out Gregory Pepper and his Problems on the Redpath stage Saturday, June 16th at 3:30pm. Further details about NXNE and our other exciting summer programming can be found at www.harbourfrontcentre.com