The Payment Expert Encore provides an opportunity for the payments industry to take the stage and share with us the soundtrack that took them to where they are today. 

In the latest edition, we spoke to Pete Casson, CTO and Co-Founder of Collctiv, as he revealed his love for Alicia Keys and the moment he knew he was a fan.

What was your first ever gig, and what was it like?

Do I dare admit this? My first ever gig was to see Louise in Paignton, Devon for my 13th birthday. I went with my best friend Sam and Cleopatra were supporting. I loved the whole experience, being able to see someone famous, hearing live music, I think I still have the programme somewhere. 

I was 13 and had never been to anything like it and just loved the atmosphere and to be fair, Cleopatra did a good job supporting as well.

Best performance you have ever seen live, and why was it so good?

Without a doubt it was Panic at the Disco in San Jose. It was in 2018 at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). 

As part of the conference they have a live performance on the penultimate evening. It’s all kept secret and you don’t know until about an hour before. It was exclusively for attendees of the conference so about 1000 people in total were there and we managed to get to the front row. 

The performance was amazing and it was one of the first times they performed ‘High Hopes’ live. The energy they brought was incredible, it was also the first outdoor concert I’d been to and the warm sunny weather definitely added to the atmosphere.

Artist who can do no wrong in your eyes and why? 

Don’t even need to think about this one, Alicia Keys. Since I first heard ‘Fallin’ in 2001 I was hooked. 

She’s not afraid of discussing personal or societal issues head-on in her music. She’s had amazing songs over the years with ‘Empire State of Mind’, ‘Girl on Fire’, ‘No One’ but also some incredibly hard hitting ones such as ‘Perfect Way to Die’ and ‘Underdog’. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to see her in concert, it was halloween back in the early 2000s and her opening song was ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson, it just showed how versatile a performer she is. She’s also a great role model for women and girls, she’s very open about her struggles and being yourself, having two young girls myself it’s really important to have people that they can look up to.

Most cherished album and why? 

This album is on constant repeat and it’s ‘Songs in A Minor’ by Alicia Keys. The mixture of R&B and Jazz with drops of contemporary classical music is just awesome. It brings back happy memories of that time, going on long journeys to training for the England Volleyball team with it playing on my personal CD player, remembering those days.

I remember one time going to Belgium to compete in a tournament, I think I was 15 at the time, and I listened to the album trying to be calm and focused before competing. It was also my first time abroad and was a little piece of home I could take with me. 

Song that gets you up in the morning? Why does it fill you with the energy you need to face the day?

I remember hearing this song as a kid coming on the radio, it was Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’. Just the opening to that song gets you off your feet. It’s such a big energy song, vibrant and positive. It gets the heart pumping and the mind energised, it never gets boring.

The song that always makes your gym playlist? What are you usually doing in the gym when you listen to this?

The gym bores me, it’s a slog, the repetitive nature of it can drive me to sleep so I need high energy music to keep me going. Bruno Mars’ ‘24K Magic’ is just such a song that does that. Usually I’m on a run when I’m listening to it and it increases the speed that I run at, it’s amazing how music can give you energy. 

The Artist or Song that takes your mind off work? Why have you chosen this artist and genre?

Any music by Jamie Cullum relaxes me and takes my mind away from work and stress. His album ‘Twentysomething’ in particular is a great one to wind down to. The opening track ‘What A Difference A Day Made’ sets the tone and immediately relaxes you. It’s easy listening that you can let your mind wander off to. 

The Jazz/Pop genre of his songs are perfect to listen to after a long day or on the commute home. I’d highly recommend anyone to see him live, his ability to improvise using anything as an instrument is incredible. His cover of Pharell’s ‘Frontin’ is a particular highlight and demonstrates his natural ability to put his own flavour on music. 

Musician you’d love to go on a night out with? Where would you take them?

This is a tough one, I’m going to stretch the term ‘Musician’ here a bit and go for someone who’s been in musicals, Hugh Jackman. He comes across as a very down to earth person who you’d have a drink with despite being a major Hollywood star. It would be great to hear his stories and he comes across as someone who knows how to have a good time. Also, who knows, he may bring Ryan Reynolds along with him?