The Canadian artist gives us the lowdown on his nu-metal inspired album, CD Wallet, managing fan expectations and being grossed out by nostalgia.

“I noticed that it was a lot sadder than I first thought,” mulls Peter Sagar in his considered Canadian drawl. “That tripped me out. People were asking me if I was okay. But it wasn’t the most consciously depressing thing I’ve ever made. The album before was a lot more difficult to work through.” Calling from his home studio in Toronto, where he’s spent years perfecting his snoozy synth pop under the beloved moniker HOMESHAKE, the multitalented musician and vocalist is reflecting on the release of his sixth studio album, CD Wallet. 


Stylistically shifting towards a more abrasive sound, inspired by nu-metal and grunge revivalism, the record is dour, whether “conscious” or not. Drony guitars, crunching drums and splitting synths create a cacophonous racket but the debilitating depression and melancholia audible on projects like Under The Weather still peak through. The title track channels despair through memories of Edmonton: The city where Peter grew up. Desolate and distant from the country’s more visceral regions, the Albertan capital is isolated up in the North of Canada. The vignettes he sings across the album suggest he found life there difficult at times. 


He rarely goes back, so shooting the video for ‘CD Wallet’ brought its own challenges. Confronted with recollections of his adolescence, one of the shots sees Peter standing outside the house he lived in until ninth grade. Across the three minutes, he mopes around, looking at old family photos and playing instruments while frequenting spots of significance. “I was trying to remember what it was like growing up in such a strange place?” He questions, unsure of the real intentions of his visit, before admitting: “I had been running away from things for a while. When we shot the video, I extended the trip and spent some time with people who I’d been avoiding.” Recording the album acted as catharsis for what had been an emotionally provocative point of conversation, helping him to rationalise some of the more intrusive thoughts evoked from his upbringing.

Whatever Peter’s feelings towards his hometown, the city cultivated his early love of music. Scared of trying new things, at the age of four, he was dragged to his first piano lesson: a distressing experience that turned out to be one of the most important trips of his life. From that moment, every decision he’s made has been so that he can continue to make music as often as possible. Sneaking into his sister’s bedroom and rooting around her CD collection introduced him to popular music and bands like Deftones, who broadened his horizons beyond the obsessive jazz listening that defined his childhood. 


CD Wallet’s latest single, ‘Basement’, is one of the record’s more jovial moments, as Peter basks in the memories of hanging out with friends and “making noise” beneath their houses. Edmonton being so cold, most of the property’s had somewhere for budding bands to practice. Sowing the seeds of a bustling scene, promoters were willing to put on nights for local musicians to perform without any regard for the more economical ramifications. No one would really turn up, but as the 34-year-old explains, these experiences were vital for establishing a career in music: “I had the opportunity to play in front of people multiple times every month for years. That was really important for me being able to make music for a living for so long.”  


In an age of constant collaboration, Peter stands out for making music largely solitarily, which is how he likes it. Since leaving Mac Demarco’s touring band, HOMESHAKE is all he’s ever focused on. His albums have never had a feature and his last three records have all been made in home studios. “I feel, especially from the outside, there’s a lot of like, ‘You have to collab with this person. You’ve got to collab, collab, collab,’ like constantly,” he says, imitating the industry and fans alike. “I like it if these opportunities come up naturally, but I think the industry is too focused on it. And I guess the idea just instantly becomes tedious to me.”  

He doesn’t subscribe to the expectations of artists in the current music landscape. CD Wallet is his first LP released as an independent artist, on SHHOAMKEE: an imprint he’s started as part of a label deal with the illustrious WARP Records – home of fellow uncompromising stars like Aphex Twin. He feels more comfortable knowing that, if anything during his creative process goes wrong, he can blame himself; it can’t be someone else’s fault and the earnest is on him to rectify the mistake. He also admits, “I’m really controlling”, which explains his lack of collaborative impetus. 


Peter is that rare thing, an experimentalist. Part of what comes with making music alone is that he can try out ideas without the hesitation of others. Since his first album, In The Shower, he has constantly reinvented his slowcore ethos and scintillating falsettos against a backdrop of whirring sounds. His projects have spanned yacht rock, kaleidoscopic electronica, mystical funk and blissful indie and plaudits have come from the likes of SKEPTA, who posted a photo of Fresh Air’s cover art to his Instagram and name-dropped him in interviews throughout 2017. Did he ever get a call to collab with the grime legend? Peter shakes his head at me before I’ve even finished the question.  


“I think that’s a real struggle for my manager. I’m always like, ‘Oh, so and so texted me.’ And she goes, ‘Sick! Well, are you gonna, like, talk to them?’ And I’m like, ‘Sure. I don’t know!’” One of the features that has slipped the cracks of his hard drives and onto streaming services is ‘SPAGHETTI’ with Eyedress, who he met on tour over a decade ago. Defiantly ambient, the track was born from a throwaway instrumental Peter sent after recording Under The Weather. Joey Bada$$ also sampled ‘Love Is Only a Feeling’, on a track of the same name, from HOMESHAKE’s second album, Midnight Snack, bodying the jazz-tinged burrs in his articulate East Coast flows. 

Despite devoting his life to music, Peter doesn’t get bogged down in the concerns of others when recording it. He doesn’t feel any pressure to perform or rise to the different conceptualisations his fans constantly spread across forums like Reddit. A quick browse of discourse on the HOMESHAKE thread, and you see people praying for a Mac Demarco feature or hoping he turns his interest towards hip-hop beats. The fact that he can be so tunnel vision is a testament to the music he’s made so far and the trust most fans have in him to do things on his own terms. He measures success as being able to get up in the morning and have the freedom to make art in the first place. Accepting that the process takes time, and that progress isn’t linear, is a verity he hopes up-and-coming artists understand as well. 


This autumn, HOMESHAKE will be hitting the road with Freak Heatwaves and Green-House: two bands that he says, “each made my favourite albums of 2023”. Touring CD Wallet poses its own challenges as the sheer disparity between the record and rest of his discography means it’ll take some time before the setlist feels coherent. Nevertheless, this isn’t posing much of a threat to Peter’s nonchalance; he overrides any anxiety with the confidence that his band will figure it out.  


In between tours last year, he was in the studio recording music on the other end of HOMESHAKE’s sprawling spectrum. Although he’s coy in his answers to any specific release dates or details on its overall vibe, one thing’s for sure is that his pertinacious attitude towards creation remains. “I’m making music all the time. Like, I’m constantly in this room, recording and stuff,” he says, gesturing towards the multiple keyboards to his right and guitars behind him. It’s the most joyful thing I have in my life. So, I make sure I can do it a lot. 

Listen to CD Wallet now:


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