On The Rise: Peter Hadar From Mannequins 2 MusicianPeter Hadar is one of those artists that you’ve been dancing to for months without realizing it. He creates the type of music that you get lost in the groove and forget to check the artist– or at least that was my experience with his music. When I was asked if I wanted to interview him, I drew a blank. As the universe would have it, the next morning on my way to work and my iTunes shuffled through my “thank-God-it’s-almost-Friday-please-let-the-hours-fly-by” playlist landing upon a house-styled song called ‘Your Body’ which always lightens my mood. As I’m listening I recall I meant to tell my friend about this song– turns out that it’s Peter Hadar. An a-haaaa moment ensues. Thankfully, when I tell Peter that story, he humbly laughs. Download:: “Your Body” – Peter Hader [audio:http://www.lerockbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Peter_Hadar-Your_Body.mp3|titles=Peter_Hadar-Your_Body]
Born into a 2-parent household, both Peter’s mother and father were ministers. In addition to the pressure of being a “preachers kid”, his father was a musical child prodigy- turned famous gospel singer in the New Jersey area. “He [my father] was a child prodigy…. at like, 19. A lot of gospel legends in the Newark area knew about him and knew who I was and it was kinda just like–… I didn’t want to touch the legend.”, Peter states. That being the case, he decided early on that he wanted to do something different and found that something at an uncle’s (employed by Yves St. Laurent, no less) home while surrounded by models. “I didn’t know what Yves St. Laurent was,” he states, “and really didn’t understand the whole fashion thing that deeply– but I know when I used to go to the mall with my mother, I used to check out how the mannequins were dressed– and that was dope to me. So while I had a love for both, I don’t think I knew how much I loved music until later in life. The fashion part was always going to be there, I just wasn’t being fulfilled. I couldn’t control it the way I could control music”.
After his parents divorced, he distanced himself from music due to its connection to his father and wound up going to school for fashion.
Following a stint in marketing for companies such as AND1, he became a manager of retail stores. Eventually Peter came to a crossroad– “It just took my whole entire life… and I was a fan! I used to spend my last dollar on Vogue magazines and magazines for men. I was trying to implement that in my work, but I would always get into it with the District Manager– creative differences, you know? I was just always losing those jobs, so I was like– I gotta try something different.”
Soon, he began to recall his friends telling him he could sing and also began reading books on a variety of subjects that put him in an entrepreneur frame of mind. One of these books shared the advantages of being an independent musical artist. Beginning in 2005, he began his first project ‘Memories of the Heart’. “I was going for a little bit of heartbreak and actually I think I was figuring out life and manhood at the time. Relationships, love, where I was going to go, what I was going to do– did I want to be a retail manager my whole entire life? How was I going to get out my mothers house? Just everything at once was the inspiration. I didn’t really have a musical inspiration. Everyone that really knows me knows I’m influenced by art– [Jean-] Michel Basquiat– he came from a suburban life and went his own way to almost homelessness. He would stay at friends homes and stuff like that, just so he could do his art. That’s how passionate he was about his art and I was kinda at the point where if I had to sleep on the street, a friends house, whatever– I was going to do it so I could do this music.”
After his first album release, he found a mentor in Eric Roberson and decided to return to school. However, shortly after one of his friends gave one of his songs to Joe and upon learning that Joe liked the record and feeling set on a music career, Peter Hadar dropped out of school. Later he met Carl Thomas at SOB’s and shared that he was a writer. “I asked for his number, told him to come by the crib, I played him some stuff– he recorded some things, but he wanted it to be on a different project. But he became like a big uncle to me… like the uncle of R&B and I think I needed that in my career. Eric [Roberson] hipped me to the indie situation. It was an incredible experience because all those people whom I definitely look up to and respect; it was great to work with them just jumping into the game.”
As the conversation continued, Peter Hadar offered more insight into his artistry and lifestyle:
On advice for artists and songwriters: “Being an independent is an awesome and liberating thing and if done right you can be successful. I think its the best thing for an artist to be at this point for what the music industry is and with the economy. Use your power to dictate your own destiny. I would also say to pay more attention to building a fan base than press actually. At the end of the day, it all depends on who comes to your shows and who supports your music.”
On opening for others: “Raheem Devaughn was the coolest to do shows with. Mos Def was awesome… I think the most memorable show I’ve done was one with Musiq Soulchild. I was doing my first show at SOB’s and Musiq Soulchild gets up [on stage] right before I’m about to perform. All he has to do is do ‘Love’ or whatever big hit he has and… I kinda felt like it would be crickets by the time I get up. He didn’t do any big songs, but I think that was my most memorable. Your first show and there’s a platinum artist and you’re going AFTER him.”
On writing music: “I write music after watching a good movie or washing the dishes. Really awkward times like 6 o’ clock in the morning. It’s not a pen and pad thing. Anytime I walk down the street I could be doing a song or when I’m dealing with life. I do tape a lot of songs on my iPhone but besides that its memory.”
On show must-haves: “My manager’s right here, so I’m not going to answer that question the way I want to answer it [laughs]. I like to partake in some wine (prefers Cabot Pinot Grigio). I don’t do hard liquor. You know how when you’re in the club and you’re broke and you try to get a little groovy, you get a long island ice tea tho? [laughs]
On artists he’d like to work with: “Waves (Waze?), Meu, Jay Electronica–that’s the homie.”
On Frank Ocean: “I’m not going to say he’s done it alone, but he has people listening to R&B again. The fact that it’s actually cool to write R&B is dope to me. (Confession: Prior to this he asked my opinion and I said I loved Mr. Oceans content, but the melodies and hooks were predictable.) Because if you go by what you just said– it’s not way out there, but it’s really really good, you know?”
On the future of R&B and if his part in it: “I think the fans that listen to my music think I’m neosoul with R&B sensibilities but I think that R&B is… going to get pure again, honestly. I love the progression and I love to do different things and I think we’re going back to move forward. Not like vintage R&B, I think the songs about love and being honest and heartbreak and sexuality and telling a woman how great she is, I think that’s going to come back.”
On his writing: “I’m regular guy in music. I’m the guy at the club that’s like ‘I don’t know what to say to this woman. I really dig her, but it’s gotta be cool.’ I’m from a place where women will laugh in your face and say ‘Nah, I’m good.’. That’s what my music is about: what you should say to a woman or what she would like you to say to her. I don’t talk about what I don’t have in my songs. I’m not buying you a bottle– that doesn’t even make sense in this economy. I’ll buy you lots of drinks– I’m not saying not to buy a woman a drink. But about the bottles, if you can’t afford that– just don’t sing about it.”
On his sound: “I want it to be what other people want it to be. People say its sexy, I want to keep it sexy. It does have some elements of progressive/alternative/soul. I think the industry wants you to call it something and I call it Alternative R&B just for the genre label. Just don’t call it what it’s not.”
On his parents and his music: “My parents don’t listen to my music, but they’re supportive. It’s so bad, I was interviewed by Essence and someone came up to her at her church and was like ‘I’m praying for you.’ [laughs] It wasn’t that bad though! It was in Essence!”
Later in the interview I asked Peter what he would be doing if not music. Surprisingly, he says he would play basketball, with fashion coming in second. Only surprising because fashion is the reason he received the moniker “Hadar”: “My uncle is a Hebrew Israelite. When I stayed with him over the summer, everybody in the house had to have a Hebrew name. I was always the one that took an hour to iron and styled my family. My uncle said ‘I don’t know what you’re going to do in fashion, but it’s going to be good.’ so he called me Hadar which means adornment, or ‘to decorate’ in Hebrew.” Heeding his uncles words, Peter Hadar expects to have clothing line eventually, but is currently focused on creating Peter Hadar merchandise. Additionally, he’s finishing up ‘Take Off Victoria’ which is set to be released late June/July and has an EP quickly following in the month of August. All while working on an online TV show called ‘Urgent Magnificence’ with Creative Control.
In speaking with someone like Peter Hadar, its easy to be excited about things to come. He’s candid, talented, and full of ideas. He’s just like he says he is– a regular guy thinking of ways to say regular things to regular people in regular situations. Regular being exactly what you think it is, whatever you may think it is. All of it being done in a way that he orchestrates. From fashion to music. From mannequins to musician.
Special skills or talents: Plays the drums and timbales. Enjoys marketing. Often asked for advice (“I definitely get my Dr. Phil business on real heavy.”)
Current favorite song:
Interviewer: So the other day you tweeted Uncle Murda [he laughs loudly] was your theme song…
“You might have won best interview with that. [To manager: “Yo she asked me about Unle Murda.”] Yeah, that song is so.. North Brooklyn swag, Bronx swag. That song is so groovy. It’s like test me if you want to, please test me. It’s just a real feel good street/hood record. A musician should be able to understand why every record is hot. The melody is so crazy but it’s so street and hood. It’s like quarter water and a 25 cent cake. Beef patty, sittin on the block…”
5 (Living) persons to invite to a dinner party:
“Tahiry… Sanaa Lathan… (to manager: I wouldn’t say my mom… No, i wouldn’t want NO dudes there!… we don’t need dudes there!), Keyshia Dior, Eva Mendes (‘but she might feel outta place’… Zoe should be there, but do we put Kerry Washington there or Zoe?) the girl from Sleigh Bells [Alexis Krauss]. Jazmine Sullivan (RE: busting windows: “She good, she good, I’m from Jersey. That’s a conversation– it wasn’t me). If you had said dead I would’ve said: Muhammad, Basquiat and Biggie.”
Top 5 Rappers (dead or alive):
Biggie, Black Thought, Ghostface, Kanye, and Jay Electronica. Honorable Mention: Jay-Z
Top 5 Singers:
Joe, Carl Thomas, Bilal, Chris Martin, Donnie Hathaway
Top 5 Songwriters:
Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, James Teller, Jonathan Hall (Gospel)
His Top 5 Movies:
Youth In Revolt, Fight Club (later switched out for Ray), Snatch, Downtown 81, (New Favorite) I Am Love. Honorable Mentions: Devil in a Blue Dress, Ali