"Ten years ago, if somebody had told me that I would end up living on the other side of the world, in an ex-Soviet country, training in pilates, and hosting a radio show, all while sipping Cointreau, I would have told them that they were nuts."
Peter Napoliello is an American-born music industry executive. He is the former senior vice president of Geffen Records and EMI Records North America. Throughout his long and successful career in the music entertainment business, Peter has had countless big-name clients, but remained humble and appreciative when we asked for details about his many encounters with stars from the music and film world.
"I respect people's privacy and trust, so I guess one would have to be more specific for me to better target an exact story that I could share, but I have been fortunate enough in my career to have worked with, befriended, and sometimes dated, some of the biggest names in show business."
"Working for Entertainment Moguls like David Geffen and Charles Koppleman puts you in the world-class major leagues. You play hard in that world, but you also have some of the most rewarding and funniest moments in your life! It's fair to say that some of the artists have been wonderful, hard working, caring, and humble, while others have been total nightmares. The irony is that some of the biggest, like the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, Peter Gabriel, Prince, and Joni Mitchell, just to name a few, are absolutely great, and very sincere. Cher and I have had a long history, and have spent quality time together not only as working partners, but also as a welcomed part of her family."
"I also loved working with Stevie Wonder, and we often acted like two 14-year-old naughty schoolboys. There were non-stop laughs, and so many practical jokes played on each other… but then there was the work, and when it came to that, we took no prisoners. One example: Stevie took a strong liking to me, which the president of Motown Records took notice of. It was the fourth quarter of our fiscal year, and we needed a new Stevie Wonder record for the holiday sales season that was quickly approaching. Stevie works at his own pace, and had yet to deliver the masters of his new recording at the company's request. Widespread panic ensued, and lo and behold, while asleep one early morning, my phone rings. It's 2:00 AM, and it's the company president calling, firmly directing me to get dressed and go to Wonderland Studios, i.e. Stevie's workspace. He wanted me to collect the masters, and deliver them to him at his office by 9:00 AM. CLICK! I jumped out of bed, and my girlfriend (who was pissed but capable of rolling over and going back to bed) uttered some words about how I'd better bring an engagement ring home with me when I got back. I ran out of the door and headed straight to Wonderland Studios. Upon arriving, Stevie greeted me with a HUGE WIDE EVIL GRIN. (Naturally, he secretly knows why I'm there). He asked, 'What the hell are you doing here?' Long story short: Instead of just handing me the master tapes and letting me go home, and go back to bed, he played dumb all night long, as though I was just there to hang out with him. After a long and drawn out night, at 8:45 AM, Stevie announces that he's going home. While his friend, Calvin, is walking him out the door, he says 'See you, Peter! Oh, by the way, the masters are in the front lobby in a hardshell metal case.' I rolled my eyes and laughed, grabbed the master tapes, and screamed out the door, headed straight to the Motown Records office."
After retiring from the fast-paced music industry, Peter spent some time in Malibu and Bermuda, finding recluse from his wild and crazy life. As it generally goes for him, though, the vacation didn't last long. Soon enough, he found himself writing movie screenplays and developing content for various TV projects, working with legendary film producer Edward Pressman, most known for his work producing American Psycho and Wall Street, and also credited for 97 other films.
A need for change arrived a few years later, and in 2011, Peter arrived in Estonia.
"I found Estonia to be not only surreal, but incredibly beautiful in its architecture and landscape. It has a mysterious, alluring, and intoxicating gravitational pull: an energetic pulse that I haven't quite been able to put my finger on. Estonia is a special land. I feel these things and I'm rarely wrong. I try to balance my time between Tallinn Tallinn, the largest city and capital of Estonia (population 440 000). and Pärnu City in the SW of Estonia (pop.40,000). . Pärnu City in the SW of Estonia (pop.40,000). , for me, is a wonderful setting that reminds me of the Hamptons. The parks, and its beach setting, is a tonic for stress relief, along with all of the spas and health clinics in the area. Tartu City in the west of Estonia (pop. 91,000). is another wonderful city, one that emits the aura of California's Berkeley University campus, or Boston's Harvard Square: an intellectual hub for thinkers, bohemian, conservative, and homespun alike. Tartu City in the west of Estonia (pop. 91,000). has a wonderful new medical facility, and with an ever-growing population, Tartu City in the west of Estonia (pop. 91,000). really does offer a lot.
From Eastern Estonia to its Islands, and from Viljandi Town in southern Estonia (pop.17,000). to Valga Town in southern Estonia(pop.12,000). , Estonia is a magical and sacred space."
"The people are genuine yet slightly withdrawn, which is understandable, considering the country's history. This does not hinder their work ethic, though, and entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generation is both impressive and admirable. The Singing Revolution The Singing Revolution was a series of events that led to the restoration of independence of the Baltic Nations documentary literally brought me to my knees, the IT sector speaks for itself, and from a creative standpoint, there are killer musicians making great music and gifted directors creating some wonderful films."
Even though he is now retired from his once-fast-paced life, Peter has not sat idly. He has managed to create a state-of-the-art pilates studio, and he also hosts a successful weekly radio show on Raadio 2 Raadio 2 is an Estonian radio station. , called "Mindbender."
"My pilates studio (Body By Peter) is in full swing. It's usually fully booked! As for my radio show, I just celebrated my 5th year at Raadio 2 Raadio 2 is an Estonian radio station. , which I am similarly very proud of. Nothing makes me happier than when I meet people, or when I get emails and correspondence from the Estonian people, mentioning that they listen to or love my Radio 2 show, Mindbender. I feel as if I'm doing something right, and bringing light to one's life."
When asked about how he chooses the music for his show, Peter let out a lighthearted laugh: "It's all sporadic. I shoot from the hip, depending on what I'm feeling, or what my mood is. If I'm happy, I'll play more lighthearted songs, and if I'm feeling down, the mood will be darker. I also take in to consideration, though, that I'm not playing music for myself. I'm playing it for my audience, and that's where my primary focus should is."
Peter has a natural intuition for music, and really has his finger on the pulse of Estonian artists. This shouldn't be surprising, though, considering how much time he has spent all across the music industry. On his show, Peter will give airtime to both famous and still-unknown artists alike. His current favorites include names like Smilers is an Estonian rock band. (an Estonian rock band), Ziggy Wild Ziggy Wild is an Estonian female-fronted rock group. (a female-fronted rock group), Dramamama, Wiiralt Wiiralt is an Estonian rock-band. , and the Dead Furies. He enjoys making note of the artistry, talent, musicality, and hard work behind these artists, as well.
"(Kerli) is a STAR STAR STAR! I love this girl on both a personal and professional level. She's a bonafide trendsetter; one that makes incredible music and sets the bar very very high for the art direction in her videos. Multitalented!"
Peter has good things to say about many other artists, highlighting the likes of Faraday, Shelton Stan, and Sounds of September. He was particularly intrigued by the the latter, whose originality and sound he opted to describe as haunting and alluring.
“All in all, there are many other wonderful artists here in Estonia that I didn't mention. In my professional opinion, all of them would be relevant and active if they were living and/or working in the United States. Respectfully, I would advise these bands to venture out, to write and record some material in the English language. It will only broaden their scope, and give them access to a variety of diverse markets that would undoubtedly welcome their great art."
"I get very emotional when it comes to music. From my earliest memories, music has always governed my emotions. It has the power to heal, to make you cry, and to make you laugh. It even has the power to help you get a speeding ticket in your car when you hear your favorite song come on, and you crank up the volume, hit the gas pedal... and the next thing you know... you're getting pulled over for speeding." Peter laughed: "Not always a good thing."
Even though one could describe Peter as a jack of many trades and talents, he himself warrants none of it to luck, emphasizing that hard work and vision is what has brought success to all of his projects.
"The things I do are all planned evolutions, starting with a vision, then a choice, coupled with a plan. That's when the real work begins. Life is a maze of trials and tribulations. Your success often depends on how much you believe in your vision, and how much time you are willing to commit to it. Throughout my life and career, there have been no shortcuts, gifts, or nepotism. All of my successes and failures have been based on belief, hard work, and trial and error. In my humble opinion, of course. Anybody who thinks otherwise has either been extremely lucky in life, or they are just fooling themselves."
"Life is forever changing, and we often fear change... only to find out that the change we once feared turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened. This includes not only job and career changes, but also relationships, as well, be it personal or work related. Ten years ago, if somebody had told me that I would end up living on the other side of the world, in an ex-Soviet country, training in pilates, and hosting a radio show, all while sipping Cointreau, I would have told them that they were nuts! Here I am, however, living and loving my life in Estonia. In truth, though, there have been other instances where I was not really surprised by past evolutions and conclusions. It's all a state of mind, one where you learn from your mistakes, which gives you more experience, knowledge, and control moving forward."
So, what is next for Peter? For a man who has accomplished so much already, is there anything else for him left to do in Estonia?
"Funny you should ask! Being in retirement isn't necessarily healthy. One needs to stay busy and productive."
"That being said, I am in the process of incorporating a partnership with an Estonian, to create an entertainment conglomerate that will cover all facets of entertainment, including professional representation on both a managerial and legal level. It will also function as a full company content creation service, including motion pictures, TV, podcasts, and streaming content. We already have one film optioned with a US distributor, three screenplays in pre-production stages, and numerous television and Internet screening projects in development. It's an exciting time, and I feel this business venture will enable countless artists to get proper worldwide exposure that will further expand their scope outside of Estonia."