Photo: Lillie Eiger

Interview Maisie Peters: “I put the story and lyrics at the front of what I do”

With her debut album inching ever closer to the Number One spot, we have a quick chat with pop’s newest star.

As soon as punchy single ‘Psycho’ dropped back in July, it was clear that Maisie Peters was something a lil’ bit special. A huge pop number hinged on Maisie’s signature story-telling abilities, the track was co-written with Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac, and is an empowering cut which reflects upon toxic relationships and gaslighting exes within an infectious soundscape.

A promising pop bop, her debut album ‘You Signed Up For This’ followed last week, and is now rocketing up the charts, currently battling it out with the likes of Kanye West and Chvrches to score the Number One spot.

“‘You Signed Up For This’ is an album about young heartbreak and missed opportunities, smiling because you feel like you should,” we said in our review. “Big emotions, small glances, everything feeling life-defining. In a world where musicians can feel pressured to release albums year after year, Maisie took her time with this one, resulting in an album that could well be timeless.”

We dropped the in-demand talent a line to find out the message behind her hit track ‘Psycho’, the universe she builds with her story-telling, her sonic evolution, and what books and literature mean to her, among other things.

First off, how would you describe your music to someone who may not have heard it before?
A universe of storytelling filled with euphoria, teenage romanticism and fantasy, anger and resentment. All these words in major chords.

What was the inspiration and message behind ‘Psycho’?
I wrote ‘Psycho’ after some tea went on my life. I was brainstorming ideas with Ed Sheeran and Steve Mac who I wrote the track with, and this idea of “If you thought I was crazy about you before, look how crazy I can get.” From there we put it together quite quickly – in about half an hour – and the song was born!

How would you say your sound has evolved over time?
At its heart my music is the same as it has always been. I’m still very much a singer-songwriter, I put the story and lyrics at the front of what I do. But my sound has become bigger and more anthemic. As I’ve toured and played more shows, my sound has naturally evolved to fit that.

If listeners could take away one message from your music, what would you want that to be?
Whatever they want to take away from it is great – I think that’s the whole point of music. That everyone takes away something different from it. I guess I’d personally like them to feel understood by it and feel like they aren’t alone in whatever they’re experiencing.

If you could describe 'You Signed Up For This' in three words, what would you say?
I would say “really very good.” That’s what I’m going for I think the album is really very good!

You have a book club of sorts where you interview people in literature on Instagram. What does literature mean to you as a creative?
I think reading has been really important in helping me improve my own writing, and is one of the reasons I write the way I do. Interviewing authors exposes me to a whole different skillset and talking to writers about their processes keeps me sharp and helps me focus on my own creative process.

Have you picked up anything specific from any of their processes that has made its way into your approach for writing music?
Maybe not knowingly, but unconsciously I think the time and the methodical skills they put into their work has definitely influenced me. I think if you’re writing a book, every word and line needs to be given due consideration and I like to think I do that with my music as well.

Finally what’s one question no one asks you in an interview you wish you were asked?
“What’s my favourite tube line in London?” The answer is the Victoria line. I think it’s the best and that’s the hill I will die on!

'You Signed Up For This' is out now via Gingerbread Man/Asylum.

As featured in the August 2021 issue of DIY, out now. Scroll down to get your copy.

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