Alysse Grafkjen

PREMIERE: Investing in Pete Muller’s Latest (& More to Come)

“‘Turn Away”  is one of my favorite songs on the record,’ Muller explained to us for this exclusive premiere and feature. “When I toured around the country last year, I often opened the show playing it solo, and got a great reception. The song talks about being in a situation (a job, a friendship, or a relationship) that doesn’t quite feel right, or – as the lyrics put it – being ‘caged in my own zoo,’ but because you’ve invested so much already, it’s hard to turn away.”

Singer-songwriter Pete Muller has a lot going for him – an album on the way, festival dates this summer, a new Lisa Loeb collaboration, great causes and better friends, and a resume longer than most (both in the music industry and out of it). He’s a special cat in the way he molds his real life introspection into the intricate soft rock melodies of his music.

His new single, “Turn Away,” is the pinnacle of that. It sets the tone for the entire Pete Muller era that is underfoot and heading straight for the warm, breezy Jersey Shore nights of summer. We are thrilled to highlight such art, premiere the single and music video, and share the kindred spirit with our audience further.

Please check out “Turn Away,” the official video, as well as the conversation below.

Right off the bat with a Philly show and a NYC show this summer – how are you feeling? One show will have an almost-out album and one show will have an already-out album, so how will you be approaching each show?

We’ll be playing a lot this summer to celebrate the release of my sixth album, one I made in Memphis with Matt Ross-Spang and a group of outstanding musicians, including Will Sexton, Ken Coomer, Rick Steff, and Dave Smith. My band, the Kindred Souls (with Martha McDonnell and Andy Mac), learned the entire album, and the combination of keys/violin/drums/guitar and three-part harmony is really working. For the album release shows (one on each coast), I’ll probably bring in some horns and add to the overall instrumentation a bit.

“Turn Away” will be your latest release for this new album and era. What made you want to drop it as a single?

I love all the songs on the record, so choosing which ones would be singles was very difficult. “Turn Away” is about when a relationship, job, or friendship (which has previously worked very well for you) isn’t giving you energy anymore, and the challenge of being able to walk away from something that used to resonate. I get a lot of great feedback when I play that song live from people going through something similar.

The music video that accompanies the single is serene, simple in nature literally and figuratively. How did it come about and why the black and white?

My friend Chris Morgan shot the video on an almost deserted beach when I was performing at the 30A Songwriters Festival on the Florida Coast. He used a drone and a handheld camera, and we both felt the video would be more striking in black and white. Depending on the compression you get from YouTube, it can almost seem like the video was shot in front of a green screen…but it’s all live footage.

I’m a big fan of puzzles, and I tried embedding a puzzle in the lyric video to the song – which was made using the same footage. See if you can figure it out!

You’re a songwriter through-and-through, so knowing that, we’re curious: do the lyrics come before everything else in your writing/recording process?

For me, most of the time a musical riff is what starts a song, and then I try to figure out what emotion is best connected to that riff. I insert a lot of nonsense lyrics in the meantime and try to “feel” what the song wants to be. Once the idea is formed, the rest usually comes pretty quickly.

As a multi-hyphenate talent in many fields, you have a lot to pull from inspirationally and personally. How do you find that benefits you, particularly at this time in your career and with songs like “Turn Away” going out into the world?

I love creating and performing music. I enjoy when my songs touch listeners, either by inspiring them or by making them appreciate that they’re not the only person that feels a certain way. Writing songs helps me stay in touch with what I’m feeling emotionally, and getting great feedback inspires me to write more, creating a virtuous cycle.

The independent music scene is as vital to you as you are to it. What does that community, in person at shows or back home in the studio, mean to you?

I love being around people who love music – kindred souls, if you will. Independent music venues create these intimate, accessible, spaces for anyone who loves music, and have given so many great artists their start when no one else would. I am lucky to have another passion that has enabled me to give back to this community and I’m thrilled to be able to do that.

The Live Music Society, a charity I created, has helped hundreds of these small venues around the country. That makes me very happy.