In Conversation: Homeshake

In Conversation: Homeshake

From indie rock stardom to spectral R&B songwriting...

Peter Sagar originally found fame as part of Mac DeMarco’s band, departing in 2014 to create music of his own under the alias of Homeshake. Since the release of his first full-length album ‘In The Shower’ that year, Sagar has garnered a cult following of his own for his low-fi, soulful R&B-inspired aesthetic.

While remaining somewhat reluctant about his growing fame, Sagar has since created three more Homeshake LPs, releasing ‘Helium’ just this month. He currently resides in a small apartment in Montreal, where the newest album was recorded, with long-term partner Salina Ladha, a successful artist in her own right.

Catching Sagar at home, just hours before friend Juan Wauters’ gig, Clash was able to have a chat with the softly-spoken artist about his latest release, adjusting to public attention and that Met Gala track with Mac.

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How was following-up the success of 2017’s ‘Fresh Air’, was there any pressure?

There was no pressure, I just make albums as I can. I don’t feel any external pressure for sure.

You moved from a studio this time to working from home, what were the benefits of that change and how were you limited in what you could do?

Well, I didn’t have a room that I could record live instruments in anymore, which was kind of a bummer but I didn’t really mind that much. It was good because when I’m here I can work at my own pace. I don’t have to book time and compete with other people for the studio or wait for someone to come through and help me on the board and the tape machine.

Were you able to set deadlines for yourself?

No, the only thing that keeps me on any sort of schedule is the idea that if I don’t have something, or not working on something, then I’m not doing anything at all. That’s a bad feeling.

With the restriction of not being able to record live instruments, I assume that lead to you using more digital tech, was that something you were able to embrace?

Well, there were times where it would’ve been nice to use a drum kit or something, but I have a good sampler and you know there’s enough shit you can do to make a guitar plugged directly into your computer sound good. So, it didn’t bug me at all.

Would I be right in thinking you use a harmonizer to get your sound?

Yeah, a while ago I wanted to get a twelve-string guitar and then tune the strings like to weird intervals but I had no money. Then my partner Salina bought me this Boss Harmonist pedal and it has had a pretty heavy-handed shaping on the sound since. I can’t use any others because I only like this one, which is shit for sound guys when I’m using it live, they’re like ‘you should get something else,’ but there aren’t any other things that are like it. So yeah, it’s all thanks to Salina.

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How was it living and working around each other as you were writing?

We have opposite work schedules, our apartment is small and we need more space, so she worked in the morning and I worked at night. The place where all my studio stuff is in our bedroom with a curtain, so I would just work there at night with headphones.

Did you find yourself procrastinating much?

Oh yeah, all the time. It’s like the thing that I do.

How did you waste time?

Movies, TV shows, my cell phone, the worst shit.

I saw you did some fan Q&As on Instagram a bit, how was that one-on-one interaction with those people?

Pretty weird, honestly. People showing interest in me generally makes me quite uncomfortable so it was a weird thing to do. It was an easy way to answer a bunch of questions that people always ask, but it’s nice. It’s nice that people care, I’m lucky.

Getting back onto the album, you have a dedicated track with ‘hellos’ running through it, which is something I’ve noticed in other Homeshake records. Is it a signature?

Well that one I just had everything plugged in and coming out of the speakers, and Salina was coming by so I was like, ‘you wanna say something into the microphone?’ and she just kept saying hi and hello and hey, so I cut it up. It’s not really like an on -purpose thing though.

This album, and previous ones too, seem to have a lot of hip-hop influences, and I even saw Joey Badass sampled one of your songs. Would you ever go down the route of producing or collaborating with a hip-hop artist?

Yeah, well actually two of my friends that are rappers are holding my beats right now, I’m just waiting for them to finish. I don’t think it’s really my place to say who they are but they’re good, they’re good at what they do.

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Another aspect of your signwriting is its intimacy, this album feels very personal. Do you write from your own experience or do you build a narrative?

Really early on I tried doing stuff like that, but I felt like everyone assumed the songs were literal or about something in particular, and that was really frustrating so I don’t do that anymore. I use a thing or something that’s actually going on in my life or around me.

Does that then make you feel a bit strange then when you share it?

Yeah it’s weird, that’s why I’ve never shared my lyrics because then nobody knows what I’m saying. It makes me pretty uncomfortable. Nevertheless, you are on tour again soon.

Where have you been that’s really made a lasting impression?

I really liked Taipei, it’s a beautiful city and I’d like to spend more time there but I’ve only ever been for a couple of days on tour. Mostly no though, because usually I never get to see anything of the place so any memories you have get jammed to the back.

Once you return home to Montreal, where’s the first place you’ll be visiting?

I don’t really do a lot. It’s tough in the winter because you can’t do things, but generally I’ll just go see some buds and hang out with Salina. The summertime’s nice though, I’ll go the park and the basketball court, I like that.

Is there a good music scene there?

Yeah, I’m a little checked-out from it recently though because the studio I used to record all my records at is a DIY venue and space. There would be a lot of shows there, but ever since that ended I don’t really participate and go to those anymore. There’s also a lot of DJs and a lot of raves, which is difficult because I really like electronic music but I don’t like going out really late and partying.

Finally, the Met Gala supergroup (made up of Sagar, Mac DeMarco, DIIV’s Colin Caulfield, Alec Meen, Sadie Holliday, Andrew Neville, Greg Napier, and Caila Thompson) – will this ever happen again?

The super group? (He laughs a little) No, I don’t know. If we’re all in LA at the same time, I guess it would just be me, Alec is almost always in LA. The only reason any of that’s good is because of Alec by the way, we should get that out there. All the instrumental parts, that was all him.

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'Helium' is out now. Catch Homeshake at Primavera (May 27th - June 2nd).

Words: Georgia Evans

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