With writing credits on songs for the likes of Betty Who and P!nk, pop upstart Peter Thomas has a knack for creating poignant tunes for pop divas. His experience as a songwriter serves him well, even in his career as a solo artist — his lyrics are smart, often moving, and stick with you even days after. He sings about love and loss and the fear of missing out, and proves himself instantly relatable to the many queer people who share in his experiences.
Now, Thomas is releasing his second single and music video, “Look at What We’ve Done,” from his forthcoming debut album Attachment, premiering below. Airy and light, the track sounds like a beautiful gust of fresh summer air, with Thomas telling a certain boy he’s in love with that he didn’t mean to fall, but it happened. “When did home start to look like your face?” Thomas sings. “When did I make you my best mistake?”
In his video, directed by Joe DeSantis, Thomas wanders around an empty studio in downtown L.A. (during a rare overcast day) while he laments his predicament — finding himself very much in love. Thomas hops from surface to surface, feeling his space while paying little attention to what his body is doing. Shot all in one take, the video proves as easy to watch as it is easy to listen to, producing an overall experience of relaxation with just a touch of melancholy.
Billboard sat down with Thomas to discuss “Look At What We’ve Done,” how a Call Me By Your Name-style retreat inspired him, and what it’s like to be an LGBTQ artist in a post-Lil Nas X world.
How did you come up with the aesthetic for this video?
Joe [DeSantis] and I had a meeting to discuss shooting one video and it quickly turned into a sprawling, all-night conversation about shooting a video for two, then four, then six songs. Joe and I are really simpatico when it comes to bringing these visuals to life. We’re watching videos, sharing pictures, trying to develop a central theme, and then he shows up on set with brilliant ideas, smart camera movements, and does a beautiful job editing after we’re done. We agreed from the beginning that instead of attempting complicated, elaborate visuals on a first-album budget, we would try to create simple videos in a masterful way.
What’s your inspiration behind “Look at What We’ve Done”?
A friend of mine invited a handful of songwriters out to Italy for a week of writing. It was incredible, and somewhere in the middle of this Call Me By Your Name reverie I came up with “Look at What We’ve Done.” I had the title in my head for a while and once I started thinking about it as a love song it just clicked. I still have a voice memo from that afternoon. You can hear me humming the first chorus melody… although it’s hard to hear because the shower’s running in the background. [Laughs.]
What’s it like singing your own songs as opposed to writing songs for others?
I try and let good ideas lead the way instead of drawing some imaginary line between my songs and their songs. The biggest difference is that, when I’m making my own records, I don’t have to consider anyone else’s point-of-view. There’s something really rewarding about finding my voice as a singer. It resonates extra deep for me when someone hears a song I’m singing and connects with it.
This track seems, in a way, about the regrets that can come with falling in love — perhaps because relationships can be so intense, so scary. Would you agree?
I’ve spent so much time in my life worrying if I’m doing the right thing, as if that’ll protect me from ever being hurt. This song feels like an exhale. Let’s not waste time figuring out how or why or when we found each other. I’m allowing myself to fall completely, messily, beautifully in love.
It’s a two-way street, though. Reflection, conversation, and therapy have helped me get clearer about what I’m feeling and I think it makes the songwriting sharper and more impactful.
Now that Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” has become Billboard’s longest-running number one song ever, do you think more openly LGBTQ artists will start seeing mainstream success? Do you feel empowered by it?
I woke up to a dozen headlines reading, “A Black Gay Man Now Has the Longest-Running No. 1 Hit in Billboard Hot 100 History.” How amazing is that? I feel totally empowered. When I was growing up as a closeted gay kid I didn’t see queer artists getting real visibility in mainstream popular music, and I think I probably told myself that I’d have to hide parts of myself to have a career in this world. But as I watched Frank Ocean and Sam Smith and so many other incredible artists own their truth and weave it so beautifully into their musical lives, it made me feel like there was a space for me, too.