I am so happy to be able to introduce to my blog readers today, Mr. Peter Foldy. Peter is a multi-talented award nominated Musician, a Producer/Writer/Director/Actor in the Film Industry, as well as a talented Photographer. A quick scan of Peter‘s iMDB page produces an impressive list of credits. That being said, I knew when trying to figure out where to start in discussing his craft(s), there was going to be some ground to cover! So, we are breaking down the different avenues into separate Features, starting with his music and an overall general introduction, with more to come down the road.
Peter Foldy‘s childhood is as intriguing as they come. Born in Hungary, Peter‘s family narrowly escaped the Country after it fell to the Soviet Union in 1956. He soon found himself and his family sailing aboard a large passenger ship to Australia, not unlike the experience of other soon-to-be musicians, the Gibb brothers (better known as the Bee Gees) who emigrated from England on a similar cruise in 1958.
During Peter‘s high school years, he was able to find an agent and eventually landed acting work, appearing in a number of tv commercials. It was during this time his path actually crossed with the other Australian transplants who were also pursuing their futures in the entertainment business. Peter became friends with Barry, and the twins, Robin and Maurice Gibb after an introduction by Peter’s high school friend, Trevor Gordon, a talented young singer who was starting to make appearances on Australian television. Peter, Trevor and the Gibbs gradually began hanging out on weekends and before long young Mr. Foldy was invited to join in with the Bee Gees favorite pastime, making home movies.
Eventually Peter‘s family decided to make another move, this time to Canada. Settling in Toronto, it was a long way away from Hungary as well as the life he’d created in Australia. But Peter wasn’t to be disappointed. Attending York University, he enrolled in film school, learning the finer points of the craft. And although he was focused on film, music was never far away. He was soon performing with a band throughout the city at various locations. Eventually, his songwriting credits secured him a record deal, and his first successful single, Bondi Junction, became a major hit in Canada! Peter received two Juno Award nominations for the song, as well as breaking into the Billboard Singles Charts (Billboard Hot 100) in America. Peter’s life wasn’t yet set though. Eventually making a move to Los Angeles… that’s where our next Feature will pick up!
For now, let’s hear from Peter about his start in the arts and his music!
Hello Peter! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit and share some of your journey. I really appreciate your time. Let’s jump into it!!
It seems you first started out exploring the entertainment industry by working in television doing commercials. When did you become interested in music, and do you remember your first public performance?
I guess my first public performance was singing for my family when I was a young kid living in Budapest. I don’t have a recollection of it, but my Hungarian relatives tell me that I was always a little entertainer and proclaimed early on that I was going to be an actor. I probably got that notion because my grandmother used to take me to the theater and I was blown away by the productions, the costumes, the music, especially if there were kids in the show. I remember thinking, I wanna do that.
I guess my first real public performance as a singer was in Sydney, Australia, on a show called Opportunity Knocks hosted by a posh British dude called Desmond Tester. I have no idea how a shy 12 year like me old found the nerve to write in and ask for an audition. When I landed on the show, I was petrified, but I managed to get through a song on live TV. I even won a watch for being a runner up. Ironically, the Bee Gees also made one of their early television appearances on a show hosted by Desmond Tester called Strictly For Moderns.
I wonder if they also won a watch?
You chose film school for your higher education, as opposed to music, which we will discuss further in a future Feature! But in regards to music, was there more interest in Filmmaking, or did you think it a better career move to focus on that as your major?
Music was always my first love.
When I got to Canada it was miserably, cold and unfriendly. I had no friends. I hadn’t finished high school in Australia and the only jobs I could find were dead end. I was selling magazines door to door or sorting parking tickets at City Hall. I was on my way to becoming a loser. Truth was I was just trying to save some money to get back to Australia, or move to London like the Gibbs had done, but then I met a kid called Joel Clarfield and he and I became best friends. You’re a smart guy he would tell me. What the hell are you doing sorting parking tickets? You have to go back to school.
With his help I enrolled at a community college and a year later I got accepted at a prestigious film program at Toronto’s York University. Joel and I formed a band and played some bars (and a couple of strip joints). Life was getting better. We were writing some decent songs and had dreams of getting a record deal, but then Joel announced that he got accepted to medical school and was quitting the music business. I was suddenly on my own again but I didn’t give up and kept writing new material, (including Bondi Junction) and eventually landed a record deal. Joel, however, is still my best friend as well as my family doctor.
Did you undergo any other specific training or education?
I did not. Just the school of hard knocks. 🙂
What instruments do you play?
Guitar and self taught piano.
How would you classify your own personal sound? Many musicians I’ve spoken with shared that it is difficult to pin down and they prefer not being boxed into a category, but if you did need to choose something, what would you feel reflects your music to date?
I would say I’m a pop singer who writes Commercial music, though I can write other genres and have recently written a rock musical intended for the London Stage. (Author’s note… this is something we will look into more in our next Feature!)
Your first single, Bondi Junction, was a huge hit in Canada, to the point of earning two Juno Award nominations in 1973 (equivalent to the States’ Grammy Award.) Were you surprised at the immediate success of your first track?
I was blown away by every moment of it. Landing a record deal. Recording at Toronto’s best studio, working with top Session Musicians, and then watching the record climb the Canadian charts, and having it released in America. Being on TV… it was all surreal. Only bad part was that I was a solo act and had no one to really share the ride with… but I’m not complaining.
After achieving a country-wide hit with Bondi Junction, did it affect your song writing moving forward? Did you feel pressure to achieve at that same level for your next songs?
I did and I tried. I got pretty prolific and I had some other Canadian top 10s and was on the charts on and off for quite a few years, till I moved to the US where I landed a record deal with RCA Records.
So about your songwriting, do you have a set process, or does it vary depending on the situation? Where do you gather inspiration?
Everywhere. I usually hear a song I love and I think, I wanna write something like that, so I use similar tempo and vibe for inspiration. It usually doesn’t come out sounding anything like the song that inspired me and more often than not I write crap – but once in a while there’s a gem in there too. You just have to keep working at it till you get something that feels right.
How much of a hand have you had in Producing during the recording process?
In the early days, not much. Starting with my deal on RCA, I would co-produce with someone really talented. Most recently I’ve been working with a guy called John Zych out of Florida, and David Williams here in L.A. Also a Producer called Miklos Malek who has worked with Ariana Grande and Jennifer Lopez. He and I did Toxic World and Friend-Zone together. Miklos worked me hard but the results were worth it.
Tell us a little about your recent single release, Fun Fun Fun!! It honestly is a very catchy tune!
Thank you. I was getting really tired of all the bad news in the world. Covid, politics, gun violence, global warming. I wanted to write a happy summer song to make people smile for a minute. While writing it, the lyrics took a slightly nostalgic turn, but I don’t think that takes away from the chill vibe. At least I hope not.
The music video provides a wonderful backdrop to the appealing melody, yet the song’s lyrics allude to a breakup, with a plea to do it all again. So is this for all of the summer lovers and wistful thoughts of rekindling those lost loves?
I think that’s accurate.
And speaking of the music video, were you involved in the filming/making of the video? Would you share your experiences with that from concept to screen?
I wasn’t. I hired someone to create the video for me. That is all stock footage.
In addition to your music, you have many film credits during these past years. Would you say that your focus has been primarily in the film industry during your time in L.A., and if so, what encouraged you to continue to spend time recording music?
Yes, I would say my day job is Filmmaker. After my music career hit a wall back in the 1980s I was lucky enough to fall back on my film school education. I managed to sell some scripts and eventually started directing Feature Films that have played on HBO, Showtime and on a lot of TV stations around the world. I’ve had the pleasure of directing actors such as Paul Rudd, Beverly D’Angelo, Eugene Levy and a bunch of other well known performers. It’s a fun, though often stressful job, but I love it.
I got back into music in the mid 2000s when a Canadian label approached me about doing a Best of Peter Foldy CD. It took a while to gather all the tracks from my former labels and when the CD finally came out they sent me on a little tour of Canadian breakfast television chat shows. What I found surprised me. Everyone was really kind and welcoming.
Around the same time Facebook was becoming a thing and people were friending me and saying that they had fond memories of my early music. A couple from Canada even went to Bondi Junction, which is in Australia, and sang the chorus of the song and posted it on Facebook, telling me that it was one of their favorites back in the day, so that inspired me to start writing and recording again. I put them out through my own little label, Bronte Road Music, and when I can, I try and squeeze a song or two into one of the films I am Producing or Directing.
Do you have any specific musical influences that have impacted your sound or in the way you like to pursue performing?
I like lots of different music, from country to classical, but I can’t seem to get away with doing anything but pop.
What about inspirations for your path in general (they do not have to directly relate to your craft)?
My path. Well I guess my inspiration is hopefully having common sense, and the belief that if you stick to it, good things can happen. One of my favorite quotes is, If you want to get hit by a car, you’ve got to play in traffic, thus I live in L.A.
Anyone you would really like to perform and/or collaborate with, living or passed on?
What has surprised you the most out of your experiences to date, and what are you most proud of?
I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am surprised at some of the luck and opportunity that has randomly come my way. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some bad times too. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, but like I said, I hang in and carry on and I’m proud that I’ve made some music that seems to have genuinely touched a few people.
Any advice for someone starting out writing/playing music and looking to progress into recording?
Stick with it. Never give up. It will never be the right time. The right time is now. Also, network. Get out there and meet people. They can help make things happen.
With having an interest in music at a young age, how much did your relationship with the Gibb brothers affect you towards realizing it would be possible to pursue music yourself?
A lot. Seeing talent like that up close and in person was mind blowing and inspiring. Not only were they talented as musicians, but I had never met kids like that before. They were precocious with a wicked sense of humor. Pretty mature for their age. My bed time was probably around the same time they were about to do their first set at some nightclub. The Bee Gees were little breadwinners, supporting a family of eight, and that definitely makes you grow up fast.
Anything you might feel free to share about your relationship with the Gibb brothers?
Not only did they influence me musically, they also inspired me to make films. We used to shoot these little 8mm shorts on weekends which were a lot of fun and that is how my interest in being a Director began. I recently found out that a photo from a film we made was used in the brilliant HBO Documentary, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart. It flashes by in a second, but it’s there and I’m in the shot.
I can also share a little short film I made with Maurice, Robin, Trevor Gordon, (my best friend in Australia), and a friend of the Gibbs, Colin Stead. Sadly the film got double exposed – but it’s fun. (Author’s note… Peter is in the red shirt.)
When we were young, the Bee Gees had no idea I wanted to do what they did. I never told them. They thought I was a kid who did TV commercials. I had been in a few and was the poster boy for Nestle’s Crunch in Australia.
Years later I was backstage at a Bee Gees concert in Toronto, around the time Bondi Junction was climbing the charts, and Barry walked by and said, Hey Peter. Congrats. I heard you on the radio. That felt good.
Fast Five – Questions for Fun…
Favorite food indulgence? Pizza and sushi. Not at the same time.
Favorite downtime activity? Watching movies in a theater.
If you were a t-shirt, what color would you be and why? That’s a tough one. Light blue. It’s the color of the sky, and the sky’s the limit – but I mostly wear black T-shirts. It’s the uniform of film crews.
Happiness in one word? Love.
Thanks again Peter, for sharing with us! Looking forward to learning more about your work as we discuss your film and photography talents in future Features! Till then, everyone be sure to check out Peter’s social media at his website Peter Foldy, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.