Last week, I sat down with Peter Bee, an Australian musician and audio engineer who made quite a splash in the music scene worldwide.
Throughout his five-year career with former band Clairy Browne and the Banging Raquettes, Peter says he was able to see and experience things he never thought possible had it not been for the music. His band went on multiple tours, playing shows in America, Australia, Europe, and even as far as Tokyo. Their music videos racked up millions of views, and the attention attracted Vanguard Records and the Creative Artist’s Agency. ABC Radio National named his band’s album, Baby Caught the Bus, as the 2011 album of the year. Shortly after during the 2012 Olympics, Heineken released a commercial featuring one of their songs.
But before all of his success, who was Peter Bee?
Born in Canberra, the Capitol of Australia, Peter developed a love for music at a very early age. His mother only owned two albums, and no one in his family showed any interest in music. His father was in the Navy for the majority of his childhood, forcing Peter to move around Australia at least seven times before settling in New South Wales at the age of 12. Once 21, Peter went on to University and studied law for five years before moving to Sydney.
As a self taught audio engineer, Peter was soon recruited to the small South Australian town of Adelaide to produce an album for a local band. What started as a short-term project turned into a four-year stay, prompting him to seek change and relocate to Melbourne upon the album’s completion.
Working in a small café in the city, Peter crossed paths with a friend of a singer called Clairy Browne, who introduced the pair in 2009. He and Clairy began jamming over mulled wine in Peter’s apartment, writing songs and connecting through similar music tastes. The duo began performing in a soul garage every week, eventually putting together a band. The band’s first gig attracted the attention of a manager- and the rest is history. Even after the band’s wild success, the members decided to go on permanent hiatus in 2011 in order for Clairy to pursue a solo career.
Luckily, I was able to pick Peter’s brain and provide the interview below. If you are interested in the glamorous touring life, or want to make music your profession, I suggest you read on!
Q & A
What is the best aspect of touring?
Well, without touring I never would have been able to travel. I met so many amazing people and saw so many amazing places. I never felt homesick because I always had such an incredible time.
I Imagine touring can get a bit strenuous, what would you say is the most difficult part about it?
Money was a bit tight after a while, and that was a big issue. We also were too busy working to sometimes enjoy the places we played at. We would perform and spend about thirty minutes of downtime, only to immediately pack up our gear and drive two hours to the hotel. Space was tight and it could sometimes add tension between the band members. All of that aside, the whole experience was amazing.
Once the band began to take off, how did all the attention feel?
It was actually pretty crazy. We received fan mail, signed autographs, and were treated really well. One occasion we even partied with The Roots. It never became overwhelming though. There is no point getting into this business if you don’t want to please the fans.
What advice do you have for emerging artists who want to make music their career?
The term “music business” is exactly what it sounds like- half music and half business. If you’re serious about it, you have to get the business side taken care of first. Work out why you’re getting into the business. Always think about contracts and the relationships you have with other artists and management, etc. Be extremely professional and knock out the necessities early. On top of that, make sure you get everything in writing. If you’re in a band, make sure you talk about expectations and get on the exact same page from day one. But most importantly, don’t do it to prove anything to anyone. Don’t alter your life for anyone but yourself. You have to love your work. Being an artist can open up your vulnerabilities and leave you constantly searching for validation. Happiness comes from within, and being happy with who you are. The only acceptance you need is from yourself.
These days, you can find Peter in the heart of Melbourne working at his studio, Studio Bee. He has a comfortable life playing gigs and acting as an important member in the Melbourne music community.
Thank you immensely to Peter for sharing his knowledge and connecting with Dopecausewesaid.
Bateau aka Melina Twyman is a Melbourne, Australia based Trip-Hop/RnB/Hip-Hop artist and writer, as well as DCWS Editor-in-Chief. You can follow her on Instagram at #bateauofficial or at bateauofficial.wordpress.com