Ever order a singing telegram? Probably not, but Orange Peel Moses wants to make sure that you know it’s not completely a thing of the past. Also known as George Peele, the local musician and artist who performs both as a circus-style entertainer and as a musician, and he’s also an avid supporter of legal cannabis consumption. We talked to Orange Peel Moses about his strange and wonderful career, as well as his love for Denver and cannabis legalization.
How did you get started making music?
I started studying piano when I was four or five. I probably began singing in church around the same time. I took up saxophone next, in fifth grade. When I was 14, I was inspired by a fellow 14-year-old to start writing original songs on guitar.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Michael Jackson and “Weird Al” [Yankovic] were my first musical loves, and I think they say a lot about my taste, as I still enjoy both dance music and comedy music. I write and perform parody songs for singing telegram recipients on a regular basis. Prominent influences since include Bassnectar, Beck, Bright Eyes, Depeche Mode, The Faint, Flight of the Conchords, Johnny Cash, Lonely Island, Mike Doughty (formerly of Soul Coughing), The Pixies, Social Distortion and The xx, among countless others.
“Cannabis enhances your perception of sound, and also often lowers your inhibitions. Consequently, it can aid both rehearsal and songwriting.”
How do you describe your style?
When it comes to original music, I generally gravitate toward some hybrid of acoustic and electronic music. As far as singing telegrams go, I perform an extremely wide variety of cover songs (mostly on acoustic guitar or ukulele, but occasionally a cappella) from Johnny Cash to Grandmaster Flash, as well as personalized parody songs for occasions such as milestone birthdays and retirement parties.
What do singing telegrams entail, and how successful have you been with this?
Singing telegrams generally entail surprising an individual or group with a costumed musical performance, though we occasionally surprise recipients by covertly dressing down. Birthdays are the most common occasion, and Valentine’s Day is our busiest day. But we’ll perform for any reason, even if it’s just make an ordinary day extraordinary. Gifts, personalized lyrics and professional video are some of the many upgrades possible (one time, we had a three-piece band and two backup dancers). Booking and delivering singing telegrams has been my primary source of income for eight years. My agency delivered 400 singing telegrams in 2017, compared to around 300 in 2016.
Do you have anything exciting coming up that you want to announce?
I’m buzzing with excitement to release my new single, “Butterflies,” this year. “Butterflies” is an insect-infused love song produced by Daniel Iyere of Elixir Tune. The exact release date isn’t set yet, but we’re currently scouting animators for a potential lyric video and conceiving and researching music video possibilities.
How has cannabis affected you life and/or your creative process?
I’m a big advocate of cannabis as both a medicine and a creative tool. Cannabis enhances your perception of sound, and also often lowers your inhibitions. Consequently, it can aid both rehearsal and songwriting. That being said, I rarely perform under the influence. As a self-described “creataholic,” I certainly use cannabis as a relaxation aid as well. I’ve also got high metabolism, and a slightly higher propensity toward fainting, so appetite stimulation—the munchies—can literally save me from slipping out of consciousness and dropping to the floor.
How do you feel about legalization so far? Is there anything you think could be done better or differently?
Being able to walk into a clean, aesthetically-appealing nearby dispensary and purchase quality, organic cannabis without a medical card is highly preferable to buying herb of questionable quality from someone on the black market. As far as I know, Colorado’s model is one of the best in the nation, but I’m sure there are improvements that could be made, including transparency regarding where and how taxes collected are distributed to schools and other projects beneficial to the state. I shudder to think of what Jeff Sessions would do differently.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
A few years ago, I penned a parody of Pete Seeger’s “Little Boxes” (the theme from Showtime’s Weeds) called “Wellness Centers.” I also once wore a burlesque cockroach costume; a burlesque performer had made it for a local stage production of Reefer Madness—for a singing telegram.
My singers and I have delivered singing telegrams to both individual employees and groups at a number of Colorado dispensaries and cannabis businesses including EvoLab, Incredibles, LivWell, O.penVAPE, River Rock, The Smokin’ Gun and Stony Hill. I’ve also booked circus entertainment, emceed, stilted or performed music at a number of high-profile cannabis events, including The BIG Industry Show After-party, The Clinic’s Holiday Party, The High Times Cannabis Cup, The Cannabis Business Awards, My 420 Tours’ Holiday Party, Groundswell’s Whoopi & Maya Launch Party and Grasslands’ recent holiday party (I wore my marijuana bow tie).
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Feel free to like Orange Peel Moses on Facebook or follow my traveling performer adventures on Instagram @orangepeelmoses. Better yet, come see me perform—upcoming public events can be found on the event calendar at Orangepeelmoses.com.