Maisie Peters | Spotlight
Maisie Peters is a singer-songwriter from a village near Brighton who has been writing songs since the age of 12. Her warm, relatable tracks garnered her an impressive following on Youtube where she met her manager and signed to Atlantic Records 3 years later. She released her first song in 2017 and has been turning her life observations into honest, musical storytelling ever since.
How did you begin?
I first started writing poems when I was about 9 and then moved onto songs. I had a terrible Casio keyboard that I started writing songs on with my sister. She wasn’t that interested in it but I made her do it with me; I did that every day for about 3 years. Then I began busking a lot around Brighton, started a Youtube channel, and began performing in working men’s pubs. I was singing emo songs about boys and they weren’t into it, but I loved it. It was Youtube that got me to here eventually.
Did you always want to be a singer?
No, none of my family are musical. I wasn’t a child prodigy singer; I fully maintain that I was a terrible singer, but I still sang all the time and trained myself into it. I wanted to be a writer, but music found me. But, because they’re *my* stories and *my* pain, I think I’m the best singer for them. I always say I’m a writer first and a singer by proxy.
Is that how you craft your songs? From personal experience?
I get my inspiration from a lot of different places. Because I write so many songs I like to have a wide pool of things to talk about, so I do talk about myself and things my friends have said or things I’ve seen. I think they do all centre around a universal feeling that everyone feels - whether it be jealousy, or loss, or anything like that.
Can you tell us a bit more about your actual process?
My process for songwriting is quite subconscious. I barely ever go into the studio with a plan. I just get basic chords and sing through things and it will just fall into place - there’s no direct plan of attack. You end up saying things you didn’t realise you wanted to say; I may start with one thing and end with something completely different. There’s a force that takes you down paths to different places. But, I think I work pretty quickly. I’m a real perfectionist with lyrics and once I have key ideas I will just hammer in.
Not being a singer, how did you find your style?
I found my style primarily through the fact that from a young age I listened to a lot of female artists like Ellie Goulding, First Aid Kit, Taylor Swift and Lily Allen. All these women really put storytelling at the forefront of what they do and I think, because of that, I sing quite conversationally.
How do you feel performing in front of your fans? Considering you started on Youtube where you can’t see your audience.
Seeing my fans in person is a bit bizarre because I did grow up on the internet. I did have people commenting on my videos but Youtube is a very insular experience; you can’t see anyone, you just read things and I didn’t always absorb them. So, when I went on tour for the first time - about 6 months ago - being able to talk to people and hear stories about how they relate to my songs was surreal. It’s so nice being able to interact with people and just be friends because I feel like we would all be friends anyway.
What’s your favourite things you’ve worked on?
I put out an EP last year, called ‘Dressed too nice for a Jacket’, that was a fun process. Putting together something as a cohesive whole was really new to me. It wasn’t like an album in terms of having a running theme but - by the time it came together - it magically slotted in, almost accidentally. I created something whole and perfect in its entirety and I’m really proud of that.
What are you doing at the moment?
I’m working on so many songs. I want to start putting out music more regularly. I love the world of hip-hop; they release things so quickly and just drop mixtapes. I think that’s something that should be done in pop. It can easily be done if you’re organised and work with the right people. So, I’m trying to pursue that at the moment.
How did you make your way from a small town/starting up to now?
I’m from Steyning, a tiny little village in Sussex, with lots of sheep and only one bus every hour. It’s not like in London, where you can just hop on a tube and get to venues and gigs easily - for me, that was a mission. I once went to an All Time Low gig at Brixton Academy when I was 13 and it was the best day of my life, but maybe the fact that it was so difficult to get there made it more special. That’s why the internet is so good, because without it I would not be where I am. That’s why I’m always so positive about the internet because it’s given me an platform to show my songs.
Did it scare you making connections, being from a small town?
It happened really organically actually. I never felt like I had to knock down people doors. Although, that may have been because of busking. Because of Youtube I met my manager and he set me up with some sessions and it kept going forwards like that, like dominoes. I was really lucky that happened for me. It can seem like an uphill battle. When I think about me wanting to be a musician at 14, I remember making a list of all the things I needed to do and thinking ‘Oh God, that’s a lot.’ But it may be more difficult than you remember it being because you do gloss over things.
How would you describe your music?
I always say organic, emo, girl, pop. It’s just music with stories in it. People have called it observational pop, which I think is a really lovely way of describing it because I am narrating a lot of the time. I’m a big fan of warm music. I think a lot of music today feels cold, but not in its meaning necessarily. Songs can be sad and warm at the same time and I think that’s why certain songs really cut through. That’s what I’m trying to bring back.
How do you collaborate with people?
I’m a super collaborative person. I used to think I wasn’t because I was too inflexible and bossy, but it turns out when I’m working with great people, I am collaborative. I love writing with other people, it takes you to places you’d never go on your own. I’m also not a producer which means my sound is totally collaborative. I’ve worked on a couple of songs with the same groups of people but largely a lot of my songs are made with different people. I love making music this way.