Peter Dyer on playing synths with stars

Keyboardist and programmer Peter Dyer has played with everyone from Van Hunt to Mariah Carey. He’s currently touring with Aloe Blacc, the opening act for Bruno Mars’ “Moonshine Jungle Tour.” Find out more at peterdyer.net.
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Keyboardist and programmer Peter Dyer has played with everyone from Van Hunt to Mariah Carey. He’s currently touring with Aloe Blacc, the opening act for Bruno Mars’ “Moonshine Jungle Tour.” Find out more at peterdyer.net.

Keyboardist and programmer Peter Dyer has played with everyone from Van Hunt to Mariah Carey. He’s currently touring with Aloe Blacc, the opening act for Bruno Mars’ “Moonshine Jungle Tour.” Find out more at peterdyer.net.

HOMETOWN: Keizer, Oregon.

MUSICAL TRAINING:I was lucky to study under Portland jazz-whiz Randy Porter in high school. Proper schooling came after at Mount Hood Community College, where I also found a forgotten Roland Juno-60 in the closet. I made demos on my Korg Triton sequencer and had to program tons of sounds for the school musicals, which taught me a lot. Then I did a year at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood.

FIRST GIGS:Local shows with a rock band in high school - where I desperately tried to make an old ROMpler sound cool! After that, playing underage at Portland bars and breweries with a jazz quartet and a funky jam band.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES:Sly Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On,” ELO’s “Out of The Blue,” Tower of Power, Chick Corea and Return to Forever’s “Romantic Warrior,” M83, ELP., Tomita, and the opening scene of Blade Runner.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW:White Sea, St. Vincent, Deadmau5, Chvrches, Active Child, and Tame Impala. On the road, Woob is also a constant fixture for ambient bus snoozing.

INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: Any knobby synth, trombone, background vocals, and custodian of playback.

MY BIG BREAK: Dropping out of school to tour with Van Hunt. Van has been a mentor, friend, and major musical influence ever since. Soon after, through Randy Jackson (who helped manage Van Hunt), I got an audition for Mariah Carey’s band. That was a fusion-reactor jumpstart to my career.

LATEST GIGS: Performing and writing on Avicii’s “True.” I’m on the Number One single “Wake Me Up” and two other songs that I helped co-write. A six-hour talkbox session for “Shame on Me” made my tongue raw. Jamming with Nile Rodgers—though that song didn’t make the album—I was a nervous wreck going in, but I played some chords to check levels and he immediately jumped on with a groove, which turned into a ten-minute, ice-breaking duet. That was an absolute career highlight for me. I’ve also joined and recorded with a band called Cameron the Public, where I play loud synths and Farfisa. That’s a lot of fun.

FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR:The Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 is near and dear to me. I designed some of the factory presets, too. A Nord Stage 2 goes with me everywhere. Also my Minimoog Voyager, Dave Smith Mopho x4, Therevox, Farfisa Compact (red), and a Yamaha CP-70 electric grand slathered in chorus and reverb.

WHAT’S NEXT: Much more with Aloe Blacc, including some remixes, a tour with St. Vincent this fall, more writing with Cameron the Public, and then going down the modular synth rabbit hole.

ADVICE:First, come prepared and be a good hang. Second, get out and participate in whatever world you intend to get work from. Listen to the radio, go to shows and hang out after, support other musicians, check out new acts, read blogs, keep up on technology, and listen to new music. It keeps you fresh.