By Poppy Tohill
Launching into the music industry 15 years ago, Peter Wadams, better known as P-Money is a well recognised and iconic New Zealand Producer. With 2014 proving a busy year as any for the producer, this month alone has seen him release 'The Baddest EP' with British reggae star Gappy Ranks, a new track withAuckland hip-hop artist David Dallas and not to mention his eighth studio album, 'BackPack Travels' where he teamed up with rap legend Buckshot. I had the privilege of catching up with Pete, the day 'BackPack Travels' was released, for a chat about everything he's been up to and what else is in store for him this year.
Hey! How's it going? So I imagine you probably get asked this question a lot, but I've always wondered, where did the name P-Money come from?
Hey, yeah I'm all good thanks. Well, my name is Peter and the money part comes from a DJ that I used to really like and I guess look up to. His name is DJ Cash Money from Philadelphia. They have this thing called the Disco Mix Competition the DMC and he was the world champion when I was a kid and he was like the coolest DJ, and I watched the video and grew up kind of wanting to be like dudes like him. So I just used the name as a teenager, taking the money part and putting my first initial there and it just stuck for like a long time now (laughs).
It's been a busy last few months for you, with the release of 'The Baddest' EP earlier this month, and now your new album 'BackPack Travels', I saw you also recently produced and released a track with David Dallas, what do you get up to when you're not creating music?
Not much (laughs). I'm sort of always creating music, I guess. I mean, I just make my music and sort of travel around and perform and take care of other aspects of my career, yah know. There's a lot of planning and meetings to actually make all of these projects happen. So if I'm not doing one of those three things, like actually organising my career, performing or creating music, I'm just chilling and stay at home, I don't go out much.
So with the EP 'Baddest' you worked with British reggae star Gappy Ranks. Being somewhat of a strange pairing because of your different styles, how did you two end up meeting and working together?
We have a mutual friend in Australia (Sam Dutch) and Sam was the one who said to me, "You should listen to this guys music, I think it's really good, and maybe you could try work with him." This was about a year and a half ago now when Sam was playing Gappy's music in the car, and I liked it and thought, "Yeah man, I like it, maybe we could send him some stuff," and that's what happened. Gappy came to New Zealand for Ragamuffin and then he heard about me, so it all kind of made sense and then we started talking and quite quickly got the first track done and it turned out good.
You also produced his single 'Baddest' entirely over the web, Have you done that before/what was that experience like?
Yeah, I have done that before, where you send music to an artist and then they record vocals and send it back and there's a little bit of that back and forth process, so that was quite easy and natural as it's something I've done with many people. But yeah, this one just turned out a little better than some of the others I guess (laughs).
So you wouldn't say that made the process harder at all then?
Nah. Gappy just knows what he's doing, like he's very sure of himself as an artist, so there wasn't too much of me having to suggest what to do on the track or whatever, because he already knows what he's doing and he just did his thing, so it was easy.
You also recently teamed up with underground rap legend Buckshot to release your new album,'BackPack Travels' which is out now! How was it working with him?
Yeah, that was great! I've been a fan of Buck for a long time, and I've been listening to his music for close to twenty years now, when I think his first album came out with the group Black Moon. So fast forward to now, being a kid listening to them and then now working with him, was kind of an honour I guess and I really appreciated the opportunity to get to work with him. The process was very easy going as well, it wasn't a hard or difficult task, it was just a matter of time. I'd send him some music or he'd come around to my apartment, I was staying in East Village in Manhattan in New York City, so I would be there and he would come and visit, play music, pick the tracks that he liked, go away and write to them and come back and record. So we just did that process over a few months and eventually, probably about a year, then it was all done.
So when you make tracks for people, do you normally do it before they've written lyrics, or how does that process work for you?
Most of the time yeah, I will be making music just to make it you know, and then when someone comes along like "Hey, we should work together," then it's a case of looking back at what I've done in the recent past and grabbing ideas and tracks that I've recorded already that I think might suit and I'll give them to the artist to listen to or they'll select which ones they like and we'll build the song from there and that's how they kind of begin and start really.
Being almost a year since you released your last album, would you say 'BackPack Travels' is quite a different album to 'Gratitude' or do you think they have similar themes and aspects musically?
I think they sit together really well as complimentary kind of things. Cause they were actually made alongside each other, partly. The process overlapped, like I was working on some Buckshot tracks and then I'd do some work for the Gratitude album and then I'd continue working on the Buckshot tracks, so to me they fit together as chapters in a story, like part one, part two kind of thing.
What would you say can people expect from this album?
It's a very classic New York rap sound. Like what we kind of refer to as the golden era of hip hop, like the 90s sound. So this very much stays in that style and genre. We're not so concerned about following trends or what's necessarily the freshest thing happening today. We were just going for a classic sound and I think that's really well captured on the album.
Is there a story behind the name of the album?
Buckshot came up with the name. But I can give you a little bit of insight... So there's a term in hip hop- 'backpack rap.' So it's a term people use to describe the more lyrically heavy records or the artists that really get into MC'ing their lyricism and the beats are more underground, like that style of rap kind of got its' name in the late 90's and Buckshot was one of the artists that would be put in that category. I think for a while he might have resisted the label, because no artist likes to be put in a box, but now so many years have passed, he's like- 'You know what? I'm going to own that title and embrace it and represent it to the fullest...' and yeah that is us, we are about the lyrics, we are about good beats and we're not about the pop charts or any of that, we just do this underground style and we're the best at it, and that's where it comes from. But that's the BackPack part, and also there's the more literal thing, of like- you put your backpack on and travel across the world and play music. That was what I was doing at that time (laughs). I literally had my computer in my bag and headed over to New York City and started making beats. So there's two sides to it.
You also released a wicked stop motion video last week which revealed the album artwork did you have much input into that idea?
(Laughs) No, that's really just an advertisement that was created by one of the dudes that works at DuckDown. His name's Guy and he's their video dude. He also did the music video for 'Flute' from the album, so that was his little creation, and yeah it was a great little commercial to let people know about the album.
Collaborating with numerous artists on this record, including David Dallas, is it important to you while working with all of these international artists to still feature some kiwi artists as well?
Yeah definitely! It's always important. I was very happy to have Dave on this album because besides myself, he's the only kiwi on the record. I actually wanted him on the Gratitude album I did, but due to timing- he was working on 'Falling Into Place' and just wasn't able to put it together, so on that album we had Aaradhna and @Peace who were the kiwis on that record. So yes, it's always important for me to try and bring as many of our local artists as possible into my work and keep us all in the mix.
Having collaborated with so many artists already, is there somebody that you haven't worked with already that you'd like to work with some day?
Aw yeah there's plenty! There's just so many. I was having this idea recently with all these old school legends of hip hop, from the 80s to now, that I'd want to work with. Rakim, I'd love to do a record with him. KRS One was another big influence or the others who are more well known house hold names I guess, like- NAS, Jay Z, Kanye West and that's like the top 5 MC's in some ways, those five people, for me. So any of those cats, is kind of what I'm thinking about right now, so I need to try pull together a plan to make that happen (laughs).
I met Kanye West once! (laughs) It was years ago. He was here in Auckland for a show and he was recording something at Roundhead- Neil Finn's studio and my friend is the engineer there, and they needed to borrow some equipment. I had the equipment that they wanted and they asked if I could bring in the turntable and mixer and I was like 'yeah I'll bring that in" and once I got there and plugged everything in, I said "here we go, here's all your equipment for the day. Do you mind if I just hang around?" (laughs). So I ended up hanging out for 3 hours while he worked and made beats and I got to have a couple of short conversations with him and he actually asked me for drum sounds for the sampler, so I gave him some things that I had and yeah it was cool! I got to play him some beats and it was just a really cool little, intimate interaction.
Can we expect some upcoming shows after the release of the album?
I have a lot of DJ gigs here in New Zealand around the country, so I'll be all over the place. Thursday night (June 26th) at Platform in Auckland, I'm doing a little DJ set there, and then Friday I'm in Ohakune for the Mardis Gras and then Saturday I'm in Wanaka, so yeah I'll be doing stuff all over- but if you check out my website and click on the tour page, that'll have all the upcoming shows and dates on there.
Talking about performing, you obviously work in the studio a lot producing tracks as well as up on stage performing them, what would you say you prefer more?
You know, I really enjoy both! I don't think I could really be happy doing just one or the other. But it goes in waves. I quite like it when I have a gap in my schedule to just stay in the studio, cause I get into a rhythm and just stay there working on music for a couple of months and then I'll be itchy and want to go out and play music and have that experience of playing the music to people and having them respond. They're such different things. So yeah, I love them both.
You've been a part of the music scene for quite a long time now, and it's changed a lot over the last ten years or so with the advancement of technology and things, what is your take on the industry and the way things are going now- would you say its changed for the better or the worse?
I think it's better as far as access to music. Any person that is interested in music can access almost any song you could think of and there was a time when that wasn't possible. It might be hard for a younger fan to understand, but there was a point in time when you might not be able to get a certain song or album, or it'd be hard to find. Someone could have recommended a specific album to you and then you have to go down to your local store and they might not have it. Then you had to order it in and you might have to wait weeks or months for it to turn up or it'll be out of print and you can't even get it anymore. So you'd have to dig through second hand record stores trying to find an old copy. That's just not a problem anymore. Anything that's out, you can pretty much find, stream and usually download it now as well, so that's got to be a positive. I can only imagine. When I was a teenage I was really thirsty for music so I'd go out there and collect as much as I can, but it'd be dependent on how much money I had to buy the albums. Now it doesn't matter. You can have no money, as long as you have the internet you can get everything.
From an artist's point of view- it's changed things a lot. My careers interesting because it spans from the very tail end of selling CDs and that whole period where CDs were falling off and then iTunes became the thing, then Youtube and then streaming and Spotify and all of this stuff we use now. So I've watched it all arrive which is really interesting. It has changed the economics of what we do, because you'd have to work hard, hard, hard to try and get a record deal, but once you had a record deal and you were relatively popular, you could guarantee a minimum amount of sales that would move into a store and as long as you could get that shipment, that's actual cash that would come back to you. So you could figure out, "If I spend this much to make an album and then sell this much, I'm going to get this money back." Now you're like, well I have to try and make it for as little as possible, because I'm just going to give it all away and if it's really popular then I'll probably be able to book some gigs and maybe I'll make some money that way- It's total guess work now (laughs).
Who is on your personal 'Kiwi artists to watch' list?
I think Estere has an amazing voice, I think she's brilliant. I've got her debut album and I enjoyed it but I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next. I think Raiza Biza has potential to get even better. He's been really consistent with his output of music and he's only just getting better and better. The whole YGB camp with @Peace, Tom Scott and Team Dynamite, like that whole crew have been doing really great things for a few years now, so it's always worth keeping an eye on what they're doing.
Who are you currently listening to on your iPod right now?
Stuff that I'll just play for myself would be music by people like Black Milk, he's a great producer from Detroit. I really like the Madlib and Freddie Gibbs album too. Those are more like the underground style of hip hop which is similar to what I create. Then on the other token there's dudes like Mr Carmack who makes really cool somewhat electronic beats I guess you could call it, bridging to hip hop/rap, he makes dope stuff. So yeah, I just like listening out for beats. I love Diplo and all of his productions. It's like this duality, electronic and dance type music that I will play in my DJ set and then the hip hop and rap that I'll listen to at home and play in certain environments. I like all that (laughs).
What is in store for you musically for the rest of 2014?
I just did this song 'Victoria Harbour' with David Dallas. It's just a one off track because Dave had this rap that he wanted to record, so we put that together and both of us really liked how it came out, so now we're talking about doing some more tracks together. Because even though we've worked together in different capacities over ten years, we really haven't recorded that much together, so that's quite exciting to consider doing that. I've done a little bit of work on a soundtrack for a film called 'The Last Saint,' which comes out August 28th, so that's exciting too. There's another movie which is a dance film I've been asked to contribute some beats to as well so that's coming up and yeah, we'll just see what happens. There's always people knocking on my door wanting tracks and I'm happy to still be in that position, as an 'in demand producer.'
To finish off the interview, we played a round of quick fire, whereby Pete assured me not to ask what his favourite colour is, which ended in me of course having to end the interview with that question.
Fifa World Cup or Rugby World Cup?
Aw that's an easy one! Rugby for me. I'm not really a huge sports fan, but I'm beginning to be (laughs)
Beer or Wine?
Beer for me
Hat or beanie?
I'm wearing a hat now so I'm gonna have to go with that.
Jandals or sneakers?
Sneakers all day everyday
Dog or cat?
Sunglasses or not?
See that one- I don't wear sunglasses very often at all. But I recently got a pair that I really like, so I've just started to wear them. Usually I'll wear them in the early morning after a gig, because I would have invariably finished at 3 or 4am and have to get up at 8 or 9am, and you're just so tired. But then you put sunglasses on and it's nice, it's very comforting (laughs) I feel like no one can see how tired I am.
Skiing or Snowboarding?
Neither. I tired Snowboarding once and I fell off three times and I thought that's enough! That was it, done.
I fucking love eating mince pies! They're the worst though because they make me real fat, but I'll always love them.
Apple or Samsung?
I pretty much always rock with Apple. I haven't even tried Samsung as far as their phones or tablets, but I do have a Samsung TV which is really good.
(Laughs) See I don't know! That's it, now I'm stuck. I'm going to be here all day trying to pick a colour... (laughs).