Peter Katz (right) and Royal Wood.

Photo Courtesy Red Umbrella

Ryerson alumnus, Peter Katz, reaches CBC Top 20

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By Karoun Chahinian

According to Ryerson Theatre School (RTS) alumnus and JUNO-nominated musician Peter Katz, his time at Ryerson helped drive him to become the successful musician he is today.

Katz released the music video for his newest song “Brother”, a collaboration with Canadian singer-songwriter Royal Wood, at the end of January. The video focuses on the lifelong bond between siblings, with brothers and sisters expressing their love for each other through photos and tattoos. The song was ranked number 13 on CBC Radio’s 2 Top 20 in mid-February and climbed to number three on Feb. 27.

“I was delighted when I saw how successful it was on CBC’s Radio 2 Top 20,” said Katz. “I’ve been listening to that program and that station for a really long time.”

Katz’s passion for music is evident in his soulful voice and powerful lyrics. Since his time at Ryerson, he’s released three albums including Peter Katz and Friends: Live at the Music Gallery that he received a 2012 Juno nomination for. He also performed at Ryerson’s Gould Street alumni party in September. He was not always aware that he wanted to pursue music as a career. In fact, he didn’t think it was possible.

“I didn’t really think that it was a career option growing up,” said Katz.

Throughout his time at Ryerson, Katz did a lot of song writing and performed as much as he could, especially for open-mic nights at the Ram in the Rye.

In 2004, Katz composed a curtain call song, “The Fence”, for the theatre school’s production of The Laramie Project. Katz’s song was so well received that his professor encouraged him to pursue songwriting.

“That was a big catalyst for me to realize that I have all these songs that I’ve been writing and I, Peter Katz, can perform them rather than having to play a role,” said Katz. “I’m kind of a bowl in a china shop. I like to be free and for that reason, the format of singer-songwriter works really well for me. [My professor] nudging me towards [songwriting] was a big part of how I decided to make my passion for music a career.”

Katz’s career hasn’t always been easy or uplifting. He mentioned how he’s had to play  “shows for no one” before. But the success of “Brother” was surprisingly accidental. What started off as a simple collaboration with a “loose acquaintance” Katz planned to tour with grew into a career-changing event.

“We just locked ourselves in a room and wrote ‘Brother’ in an afternoon. There were no release plans for that song at the time. It was just a little track that we [Katz and Royal Wood] were putting together for the tour,” said Katz. “We did this live video of it where people really reacted positively. They began to request it at our tours and [Wood and I] also became really great friends.”

While Katz is excited about his placement on the national top 20 chart, his happiness is linked more towards the fact that he has gained more reassurance that he make music for a living.

“It’s exciting to think that I can live to fight another day and that’s the best feeling in the world,” said Katz.

Katz is currently working towards the launch of his album “We are the Reckoning” on May 29.

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