Pete Philly: The R&B, Soul & Hip Hop Mash Up

It seems Pete Philly feels like he is always the outsider but he always makes us feel at home with his global mix of R&B, Hip Hop & Soul on stage or when we hear him on a track. His ability to mix sounds, rock the crowd and understand so many cultures is a testament to the power of a free flowing expression that could only be captured by music. Singersroom had the opportunity to link up with Pete in New York City to discuss everything under the sun.

Best of Both Worlds … I’m like an amphibian. I can adapt to land and water in the sense that some people rather see me swim (rap) other people rather see me walk (sing). So I have fans that prefer that I rap, others prefer I sing and I also produce as well. You become like a weird niche when you become all of those things. I have a show that I produce which is 70% set and 30% improvisation. I’m so used to being very theatrical and big in my shows.

The Amsterdam Scene … I had to convince them (Dutch fans). We just traveled in a van and started playing for five people and a donkey but the word of mouth of the live show spread. The five people turned into thousands. It got crazy pretty quickly. Amsterdam is very eclectic… it’s very electronic and it’s kind of pompous. There are different scenes but there is no room given to black culture. So there is no Hot 97 or black urban nothing! That’s why the reason I have maintained a career is one because I say it in English and I represent black culture through my music.

Method Man Made Me Sing … Actually my singing started because of Method Man. He influenced the way I was rhyming at the time and my rhymes became very sing songy. Then I used to date this singer and she just said, “why don’t you just sing a bit.” Micheal Jackson, D’Angelo, Jill Scott and all Neo-Soul artists influenced me. Nirvana and Pearl Jam also influenced me. I don’t feel bound by genres. I didn’t have to think about my genre until I came here cause now I started to be asked if I was I a rapper or singer. I guess my genre is Soul R&B and Hip Hop.

Cultural Mash Up … I have a Parisian accent when I speak French. I was born in Aruba to a Dominican father and a Dutch mom. I spoke Spanish at home with my grandmother. I spoke Dutch with my mom and I went to school and spoke English. I also spoke the native dialect of Aruba. So I grew up speaking four languages when I was six. Now, I speak French and German but I don’t speak Spanish anymore. The New York/East Coast accent resonated with me. I could have gone for a Scottish or Irish English accent but Hip Hop changed my life so I was just emerged in the culture! I’m an outsider wherever I go. I’m always an outsider! I’m always like an immigrant but there are three cultures that really made a huge impact on my life… the Caribbean culture, European culture and American culture. So I’m a mix of those.

Grove With Philly … I want to be able to grove in all those places but I’m never home. I feel disconnected but I can feel it. Making my music is about making that connection with the people. My show is a spiritual thing. I remember seeing Jill Scott in 2004. I was in the crowd and she was singing something and she hit that high note. I’m not going to lie I was looking down trying to figure out what I was going to do the next night at my show. I promised myself … I wouldn’t cry but that note just went right through me. It was spiritual! The things you need to sing and say needs to hit.

The Essence of Artistry … I try to be like Charlie Chaplin because he composed his own music. He was a performer … a very physical performer. He would act and compose his own music for his films. Charlie Chaplin is someone I look up to. That kind of stuff I try to emulate. James Brown and Sting are artists that really influenced me also because of there stage performance. Miles Davis in the sense that Miles kept on redefining who he was as an artist. Anyone that sings and composes their own stuff like Phonte. Any artists that came from Hip Hop but did not stop there like Cee Lo, Andre 3000 … people that kept progressing. People that are songwriters and composers are the people I feel connected to.

What the People Want … When it comes to things we don’t care about like jelly beans; we have 5000 flavors but there are only five media companies. There are only two [political] parties but there are so many different kinds of peanut butter. When things really matter you don’t really have choices. But there is a freedom to the expression now. This new IPod shuffle generation are more open to creative sh*t.

Love & Safety … The only things we want are love and safety. The “machine” tells us we can obtain those by getting money and that should create a situation that you feel safe. Everything seems to be focused on dance music and I don’t know. I love to dance. I got to get this energy out I love dancing. I’m Dominican! I got to move but there has to be real love and a real sense of safety through expression.
—— By: Interview By DOC


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