The old adage “fruits of your labor” is meant to be instructive, but instead, the pressure to deliver tangible results can feel insurmountable. Singer-songwriter Peter Wise expresses his frustrations over such expectations with his new song “Fruits,” a groovy little number packed with soul and sincerity, premiering today.
Out of Brooklyn, Wise wrings his hands over what he could have done differently. “Did I squeeze too hard or not hard enough? / Did I waste too much time trying to grow it up right?” he agonizes on the opening verse. His worries don’t stop there.
“I’ve been putting in the labor, but the fruits don’t seem to favor my touch / Are you gone for good, or should I wait around?,” he bemoans, wracking his brain. “Do you still want your old pillow, or should I throw it all out? / I’ve given you every kind of flavor, but my fruits don’t seem to cater to your touch.”
“Fruits,” sampling a forthcoming six-song EP, hinges on his “inability to see completion,” he tells American Songwriter, “or not being able to see something through to the end, personally, professionally, or in society as a whole. I think we all judge personal growth through tangible things or physical landmarks: school degrees, work promotion, monetary success, relationship milestones, etc.”
“We’ve all been conditioned to operate under the [aforementioned] expression ─ meaning that if you put the work into something, you will have a tangible payout. But I’m sure we’ve all experienced working for something,” he continues, “and not seeing the resolution we were hoping for or not having a resolution at all. I think that emotion is something we’ve all been feeling with the current state of the world, so I hope this song resonates with people as it did with me in writing it.”
A Boston native, Wise grew up actively playing guitar and piano, and only later, during his college studies, did he dabble in songwriting. It was then, as he was coming of age, that he sought to expand his artistic horizons. “For [this song], I felt it was important to establish a visual identity for my song,” he remarks. “I wanted to craft some sort of Judgment Day atmosphere, a transition point where you can look back on your life and reflect on the decisions that have led you to where you are.”
Wise, whose voice is reedy and penetrating, reaches for a gutting growl on the hook. “Spent all this time growing roots, but they only cut my hands,” he howls. “You’ll be judged by your fruits, and I’ve got nothing but rotting plans…”
Songbirds chirp and the backing percussion throbs, immediately intensifying the emotional rush and spilling out into the room. In decorating his lyrics with such explosive dynamics, he conjures up a full-bodied listening experience. “I wanted to create a duality in the music for the song ─ the low, in-the-mud drudgery of trying to push out of where you are [and] the higher, angelic sound of the ideals or dreams you’re chasing,” he explains. “You can hear that duality expressed in every moment of the song; the choir and bird noises in the intro mixed with filtered drums, the low chunky guitar mirrored with higher guitar lines and synths, and so on.”
His imposing performance isn’t necessarily cathartic, but it sure comes close. “It’s this emotion of not quite getting to where you’re going, feeling like you’re close but not quite breaking through. So, the music has this jolting feel, rhythmically breaking or changing right when you’re feeling comfortable, to create this feeling of angst and frustration.”
Wise last released an album with 2018’s Unattached. In the months since, his focus has resided with “honing my sound and unifying all components of my music,” he says. “I wanted the words, music, and production to all be an extension of the feeling the song conveys.”
While eyeing a follow-up project, his mind has been distracted by other things (like many of us). “It’s been a strange and unprecedented year in many ways. I have always turned to music as a way to unpack how I am feeling, or to hear other voices better express how I am feeling through their own stories and songs,” he offers. “Although this creative process may not elicit change, it guides us to action. I trust others feel the same.”
“My song ‘Fruits’ came out of a period of self reflection and wanting to see more progress in my life. The process of writing and recording [this song] helped me face these shortcomings and make strides toward growth. We’ve all had a lot more time to reflect than we thought we would this year, but this period of reflection has brought issues to the service, which I hope will lead to change,” he says.
“There are much more important actions we can take right now than creating art, but I do think creatives are always needed to speak on different issues and speak to them personally. Songwriters have a great opportunity right now to keep pushing the conversation forward, help connect cultures, and prompt us all to take action.”
Wise expects to tease his new EP throughout the coming months.
Listen to “Fruits” below.
Photo Credit: Andrew Parsons