By Bradley Turcotte –
When Kitchissippi musician and motivational speaker Peter Joynt spoke at Fisher Park Public School about bullying and overcoming life’s challenges, his candor inspired 13-year-old student Pei Pilgrim to contact the rapper.
Their eventual collaboration, Loving This Feeling, is an upbeat, hip-hop track celebrating the sizzling season. The accompanying video, shot with a drone and featuring the now demolished Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge, shows Peter and Pei walking towards each other through Kitchissippi – a fitting narrative for the kismet meeting of two local artists who overcame bullying.
Accosted for her demure size, Pei divulges that once she fought back, her oppressors relented. A resident of Hintonburg, Pei has dealt with the deaths of her uncle and grandmother and, she says, although a newly minted teen, she has been through a lot in her short life.
An established songwriter who penned ballads for the Ottawa Senators and the viral Ottawa ode, Cap City, Peter struggled to overcome stuttering as a child. When Peter was 13, he decided to cease speech therapy and embrace his affliction despite the bullying he endured for slips of the tongue. Peter pursued percussion as a youth before transitioning to guitar. A “tone deaf” singer, the switch to rapping cured his speech impediment.
The federal government’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research reports that among adult Canadians, 38% of males and 30% of females experienced bullying during their school years.
Resiliency is a hot topic with kids today, according to teachers Peter speaks to. Performing poorly on a test or having a “flaw” impacts children negatively, Peter says, and he encourages them to “let it go.”
“Who cares if you have something different about you. Pick yourself up and keep on going. You can do it,” Peter says. “Despite these hurdles in your lives you can still do great things. It is up to you. Here I am now, speaking to hundreds of people regularly despite having a speech impediment. I am staying true to that idea of not letting it hold me back in life.”
A basement musician with a bourgeoning YouTube channel, Pei says she felt a “connection” to Peter as he was “bullied for something he couldn’t fix.” Her initial Instagram message thanked Peter for sharing his story and asked if the Mayfair Avenue native had any advice on breaking into the music business. When Peter learned of Pei’s abilities, he sent her beats by Slovenian DJ Rey Topol and was blown away when he received fully fleshed out song sections days later.
Written during a heat wave, the canopies of foliage on the streets of Kitchissippi and the freedom of summer inspired the composition. Peter has fond memories of the “warm, wet grass smell, the heat” and listening to music while jaunting around his childhood neighbourhood.
With Loving This Feeling complete, the duo set out to record a video, unaware of the looming pedestrian bridge demolition.
In true summer adventure mode, Peter and Pei learned flying a drone over the Queensway or near the Civic Hospital heliport is illegal, according to a police officer dispatched to speak with them. The illicit music video inadvertently memorialises the iconic structure.
Co-director Todd Cameron brought his experience from shooting a nature documentary using drone tech to the set. Exceptional high views of the city are seen in the video, but Todd says the versatility and “smooth” capabilities of the 4K camera allowed for drone-recorded walking shots.
“As a storyteller, I was amazed to learn of Peter’s stutter and yet he can rap so fluently,” Todd observes. “As a person, I was blown away at how much of a positive force he is. The amount of energy he puts back into his community is inspiring.”
Pei is looking forward to the new school year but says taking walks with her family in the ByWard Market and socializing without “stressing about homework” are her favourite summer activities.
Another collaboration for the rhythmic pair is imminent.
Pei previews they are “getting some beats down” for a track marking the launch of LRT with a video featuring footage from last year’s Lyon Street station Continuum attraction.
Amazed by his co-writer’s talent, Peter predicts a sunny, productive partnership.
“She keeps sending me songs,” he laughs.