Peter Sagar, of the laid-back R&B pop act Homeshake, tells me that he's not the biggest fan of playing shows, and it shows. The Montreal-based musician's performance, organized by the collective Studiorama, before a near-packed room at South Jakarta's Rossi Musik was decidedly low-key. He barely addressed the crowd, aside from explaining that there would be no encore, and his entire band took to the stage to perform a detached, minimalist, groove, moving methodically through a set list of infectiously chill pop songs.
Not that any of this really matters. Homeshake plays a kind of sexy, laid-back R&B-influenced synth pop that sounds better in the bedroom, or at least on a pair of headphones, anyway. It's not the kind of stuff to set off a raucous live show—despite the fact that this was at Rossi, a place that even goes off for emo bands. But Sagar's fans know all of this. They know what to expect from a Homeshake show, and scanning the crowd of fans, most too young to be called Millennials anymore, the whole thing seemed like a success.
I chatted with Sagar as he ate a plate of Indomie (with a fried egg on top, classic) before the show and talked about his life back in Montreal and why he prefers to make music in a studio, as opposed to on the stage.
VICE Indonesia: Is this your first time in Southeast Asia?
Peter Sagar: I’ve been here once before, but its my first time in Jakarta. It’s cool, I like it. I mean it’s very hot. I like that the clouds have been out. It’s been nice.
Are you aware of what’s happening musically in this region?
I’m not. I mean I know Rich Brian, but everybody knows him. I actually don’t know any of his songs, i just know who he is. And when we knew we were coming here, we watched a video of him eating Indonesian food in New York.
You live in Montreal. What’s the music scene like over there?
It’s busy. A lot of people in Canada move there because it’s inexpensive, relatively for a larger city. It’s not very big, especially compared to a place like Jakarta, but a lot of people move there because you don’t have to work a lot. There’s also a lot of raves and parties and stuff that I never go to because I stay at home all the time, but yeah very, very busy music scene.
Where would you go in Montreal to listen to music?
Just home. I stay at home a lot.
I guess it’s where you write your music too.
Uh huh. I do all my work at home. There was a studio where I recorded the first three records, but it fell apart recently because it was also a DIY venue and a jam space. Everyone just kinda got sick and tired of making it work. And then a new landlord came in and wanted to raise the rent by like $600 or something. So we were like 'Nope.' And now I record at home on my computer.
It’s probably a lot cheaper too.
Yeah, it wasn’t too expensive to rent there, we were all pretty stingy about it. But it’s definitely easier because I can just do it anytime I want. I don’t need to book time or anything.
What time are you most productive? Do you write a lot at night?
I used to do most of my writing late at night. But I haven’t had good headphones in a while. My headphones broke and I’ve just been too lazy to get them fixed, so I’ve just been doing it while [my girlfriend] Salina is out of work during the day lately. And at night, well, my studio space is like a shared [space] There’s no wall between the studio and our bedroom, so I can’t do it at night anymore.
Your last album, Fresh Air has slicker production than your previous output. Was this deliberate?
Well I recorded both Midnight Snack and Fresh Air with this guy Jackson McIntosh. When we did Midnight Snack, it was the first time that the any of us recorded drum machines and synthesizers and we had been recording to a tape machine. So we didn’t really know what we were doing, so it came out sounding like that. Just more lo-fi and gnarlier. But this time around, we had a better idea of what to do with the instruments. And so yeah, it came out sounding a lot cleaner. We were very happy with it.
Before Homeshake, you played with Mac DeMarco and you left due to their hectic touring schedule. How do you make sure it’s different this time around?
Well, I’m the boss. So I don’t have to do anything I don’t want [laughs].
Do you still hang out or talk to Mac?
Yeah. You know, we went to high school together. We’ve known each other for a long time.
What’s next for the rest of 2018? More touring?
I’m trying to cut the touring off where it is right now. We have a couple more things, but no big tours until I’ve got something recorded at least. After this Southeast Asia tour, I’ll be back home for a while. In a month, we’re about to do a six shows in the northeastern United States. A couple of one offs, and that’s it.
Are you more of a recording musician or playing live kinda guy?
I like recording. You do it one time and then it’s like forever. I forget like every show we’ve ever played. I remember all the really bad ones [laughs]. So that’s kinda sad. I don’t know. Yeah, playing live is kinda not my favorite thing. And I know I’m about to do it. And it’s going to be great, but it’s not what I do music for.