As a response to the clean-air movement and the U.S. government’s denial of climate change, Peter Foldy, a Canadian singer, songwriter and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, wrote the pop song “Toxic World.”
Released in the fall of 2019 to positive reviews, “Toxic World” is a socially conscious love song. It got airplay on Canadian radio stations and recently charted at No. 27 on the Quebec Anglo Top 100.
Now, with the spread of the coronavirus, the song is more relevant than ever. “I was kind of ahead of the curve in calling it ‘Toxic World,’” Foldy said.
Foldy has a gift for writing upbeat pop songs with catchy melodies. His first single, “Bondi Junction” topped the charts in the early 70s. Despite the serious subject of “Toxic World,” released on Foldy’s Bronte Road label, it’s a toe-tapper. And the melody has earworm potential.
“Good songs just come to you,” he said. “They’re almost like a gift. They come from somewhere and you just write them.”
On the heels of the success of “Toxic World,” he’s recorded a followup with the working title “The Friend Zone,” about a guy who likes a girl who just wants to be friends.
When Foldy releases the song, he’s planning to concentrate on streaming services rather than radio, he said. “Toxic World” got nearly 14,000 streams on Spotify.
It’s hard to get songs on radio these days because radio stations can satisfy Canadian content requirements by playing big name artists, he said. “Even if they play a song, they play it only once every two days.”
“Bondi Junction,” was played 10 to 15 times a day on every radio station in Canada, because almost every Canadian station was a Top 40 station in 1973. “You could make a decent living just off the airplay alone,” he said. A song about a fragile first love, it rose to No. 1 on the Canadian music charts and garnered two Juno nominations.
Bondi Junction is a suburb of Sydney, Australia, where Foldy and his family landed after fleeing Hungary. They went on to settle in Toronto, where Foldy played in a bar band, singing covers by the Beatles and the Bee Gees, while attending film school.
He shopped a demo, which included “Bondi Junction,” to several record companies and to his surprise, a small, independent label signed him. The tune charted on Billboard and Cashbox in the United States as well.
By the early ‘80s, after he’d had several more Top 10 hits, Foldy moved to L.A., then the epicentre of America’s music universe. But after his label went out of business, he found himself selling chocolate mints over the phone four hours a day to pay the rent.
“In the afternoons I did what everyone else does in L.A., I started writing a screenplay,” he wrote in british-weekly.com. A teen comedy he wrote was his entree into the film industry there and he went on to produce and direct many feature films since 1985.
But Foldy never lost his musical aspirations, releasing a Best of Peter Foldy album in 2008. When he uploaded a video of “Bondi Junction” to YouTube in 2010, he realized how important the song had been to his fans.
One viewer reminisced about his own first love. He wrote, “That’s it, you find your first love, you think it’s forever, it rarely lasts, and maybe you look back and reminisce. Surely, you never forget it!”
The feedback from his YouTube audience got Foldy back into songwriting, and in 2014 he released a well-received album, Nine Lives, a collection of 10 original songs.
“I’m happiest when I’m in the recording studio,” he said. “It’s just a great feeling to be there and to make music.”