Neosoul singer Peter Hadar’s style resembles a box of crayons. Not just any box—Crayola’s 64-count pack. Hadar’s music is bold, exhilarating, and sure to leave a mark. His 13-track sophomore album, “Well Dressed for the Art Show,” is an eclectic sonic masterpiece that takes listeners through the ups and downs of love, sex, and relationships. The New Jersey native and former fashion stylist, buyer and brand manager sat down with ESSENCE.COM to discuss what it’s like to be a “cool weirdo,” how his mom feels about his latest album, and the strength of a woman’s words.
ESSENCE.COM: Tell us all about “Well Dressed for the Art Show.”
PETER HADAR: It’s an album about art; the title just means I’m prepared to present my art to you, the listener. Every song is a portrait. It’s like 13 different outfits and 13 different styles. Pretty eclectic— soul, hip-hop, rock, jambalaya, electronic, progressive and edgy.
ESSENCE.COM: Sexy, too.
HADAR: It’s sensual without being crass. It’s tasteful. It’s a great album to make love to. Up and down, fast, slow and steady, and it’s extremely exciting all at the same time. Those qualities all add up to good sex.
ESSENCE.COM: Was it your intention to make a sexually charged album?
HADAR: I just do what comes out. I want people to feel good about my music and get excited, and whatever they feel is cool with me. But what I’ve been getting is the sexual thing. I’ve had many people tell me that.
ESSENCE.COM: Your mom is a minister. How does she feel about the album?
HADAR: Because it’s me, she loves the music. But she really doesn’t know what it means. The rest of my family is like, “Do you know what this means?” and she’s like, “Nah, I just like the beat.”
ESSENCE.COM: How would you describe your sound?
HADAR: It’s a tall glass of merlot. Merlot sneaks up on you, and when it does, it feels good and makes you want to do something exciting. Merlot relaxes me, gets me in a cool mood, and I think that’s what my music does.
ESSENCE.COM: Do you have a favorite song on the record?
HADAR: “Cheat on You,” that’s my baby. It’s a cool song in the sense of the writing. There is a lot of controversy around the song, though. It’s really about me making love to or cheating on my girlfriend’s words. It’s similar to Dwele’s [“I’m Cheatin’ ”], but mine is more directed toward me having a conversation with a woman and I find her to be so much more beautiful because of what she just said.
ESSENCE.COM: So women’s words inspire you, huh? What else inspires you about women?
HADAR: I love when a woman believes in you no matter what the ups or downs. That’s really beautiful. You have to treat women like queens, because as long as you put women in challenging situations, they are going to react accordingly. Men have to know how a woman operates and give them stability; if not there could be issues.
ESSENCE.COM: With such similar songs, what makes you different from Dwele and other artists?
HADAR: I always find that question funny. We all pull from the greats and from each other. We inspire each other. I have tons of influences. I don’t know what makes me different. It’s up to listeners to decide; I just do what I do.
ESSENCE.COM: I like the way you think. Now, let’s talk about you being a cool weirdo.
HADAR: It describes me totally. People are afraid to go against the grain. They won’t go outside their box. It’s cool to be different. It’s cool to be strange. If you think differently from the masses, it’s cool.
ESSENCE.COM: Was it challenging to go against the grain?
HADAR: I grew up in a family where everyone has Masters [degrees] and graduated from Rutgers, and I was like, “I’m doing my art.” My family was not supportive before. I just started hearing melodies in my sleep, and even if it meant sleeping on the street in a box, I felt like music was my calling. That’s why I respect [deceased neoexpressionist artist Jean-Michel] Basquiat; he chose to stay on the streets until things got better. I have no kids. I’m not married. I don’t have tons of responsibility so I could [afford to do this.]