Peter Oren
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Peter Oren

Bloomington, Indiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Bloomington, Indiana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




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Still working on that hot first release.



Peter Oren was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana. He started writing songs at eighteen, hitchhiked alone in Norway at nineteen, and dropped out of college at twenty. He’d garden if he could stay put long enough. At times he may be found sleeping in the back of his truck by the ocean or up a national forest road.

Take sandpaper to Tom Waits, and you’ll have the smooth, rich, lyrical voice of Peter Oren. He's sometimes compared to Arthur Russell, Nick Drake, and Bill Callahan. His writing often focuses on unjust power dynamics and environmental degradation. He was arrested twice for protesting such things in 2011. 

His writing is hardly issue-oriented, however. He's constantly searching for connections, symbols, and wordplay that paint a broader picture of the dystopian American landscape. For example, a song from his upcoming full-length, "CAFO," begins, "This white picket cage feels like a CAFO/ Without so much smell/ It's rigor mortgage and what's more is/ My house is just one of these cancer cells." CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. 

Peter is constantly grappling with the issues of the day--climate change, police violence, governmental corruption, homelessness, privilege, gentrification, and beyond. As obligated as he feels to contribute something useful to the world through politically-oriented songwriting, he naturally spits out love songs and the likes as well. 

He self-released two EPs in 2013, the first with a band called Swales and the second solo. Since then he's been working on his first full length, Living By the Light, which is nearly complete. Recording began in fall of 2014 in a geodesic dome-home called the Dome. Work continued in a local studio called Blockhouse, and after meeting David Beeman while playing shows on the west coast with Elvis Perkins, the record was finished up with Beeman in St Louis at his studio, Native Sound. 

Peter has opened for AA Bondy, Joe Pug, Justin Townes Earle, Laura Stevenson, Gill Landry and recently played five shows up the west coast with Elvis Perkins. 

Joe Pug-- "I go out and see music quite a bit. But [outside of Austin] actually there's a guy from Bloomington, Ind., a really, really super young guy. He's maybe 20 or 21-years-old. He opened for us the last time we were in Bloomington, plays under the name Swales. He writes really cool songs and has a great voice. He came up with us to Chicago to open for us over the summer. He's got a long way to go, but he's super young and I think the sky is the limit for him. He's a really creative writer and he has a really idiosyncratic and beautiful voice." (Nov. 2013, NUVO.)

Band Members