Tonya Antoniou | 17/08/2021
With the world starting to get back some semblance of normality the interview with Masie Peters still took place over Zoom. Although I’ve been using Zoom now for over a year, the awkwardness of online interactions for me has not subsided. In contrast, Peters appeared at ease and a seasoned professional conducting the interview in this way. This may not come as a surprise, as she has been uploading videos of herself performing on YouTube from a young age. The 21 year old English pop singer/songwriter has managed to build an impressive fan base including the likes of Taylor Swift and Lewis Capaldi. Two of her songs appeared on Love Island in 2019, and since then she has accumulated over half a billion streams worldwide. More recently, she has signed to Ed-Sheeran’s record label Gingerbread Records, releasing her new album in August You Signed Up for This. It’s an understatement that I was excited to covers Peter’s lockdown book club, her post lockdown plans and of course her musical journey to date.
Having been a fan of her music since her youtube days, and judging by her celebrity fanbase I’m in good company! Having worked with the likes of JP Saxe, James Bay and Ed Sheeran and gaining recognition from Taylor Swift, I asked if there is a possibility of a collaboration with Swift and what other artists she’d be excited to work with.
“As of right now, there’s no Taylor Swift collaboration in the pipeline. She posted a video of the Red Vaults Tracks with all the secret codes, and somebody managed to find my name as part of the code, I found that hilarious. I wish, but no, but never say never, I’m manifesting it. There are so many other people I’d love to work with like Lucy Dacus, the Bleachers and Jack Antonoff who are all amazing and talented.”
I wondered if her past experience of busking and pub gigs had helped her develop the outlook of not overthinking things which she’s mentioned in previous interviews. I questioned if this is what gave her the ability and confidence to upload songs to YouTube from a young age.
“Definitely, I think my YouTube career is hilarious. People used to ask, were you not scared or nervous? Apparently not! I think you’re fearless when you’re 15/16, it wasn’t a thing that I really deliberated over. I put stuff online not thinking about it. That was that, which I think is the sort of naive confidence you have when you’re young.”
Most people don’t undertand the challenges and pressure musicians put on themselves to make sure their art is as perfect as possible, before sharing it. I wondered what she say to other artists who are apprehensive about putting out their work and what advice she’d give them to feel more at ease with this process.
“I’d say just make sure that whatever you’re sharing, you love and are proud of it. It doesn’t have to be the best thing that anyone’s ever done. You can love something but know that you’ll go on to make a lot more things. But it’s important to share things, I always tell people how’s everyone else meant to know you’re good if you if you don’t show them?
As we found ourselves talking about the effect the pandemic had on our day to day I found myself telling her how as an avid reader, I loved that she started an online book club during lockdown; my friends and I did the same so we had escapism at a time where we all felt disconnected and isolated, giving us something to look forward to. I was curious if that was the aim of the page for her.
“I think at the time, it was like you said, it was something to share with everybody and it gave a real sense of structure. I am a big reader, so it was a really interesting thing to become an interviewer and speak to these authors. It’s something that I ran alongside my music. I think it’s cool to do things that are different. I get to speak to really interesting people and get cool book opportunities. It’s really fun.”
As we begin to return to our rountines and hetic schedules I wondered if Peters would carry on with the book club.
“I think so, we’ll see how it goes when everything really picks up and touring begins but right now it’s definitely a wonderful corner of the internet for me. “
I was interested to know how the books were chosen, and how the author interaction came about in the live streams.
“I work with a really amazing publisher who’s got her finger on the pulse, she’ll often recommend books that are coming out that she thinks could be interesting to read and discuss. I choose the books sometimes. The interaction is very ad hoc and pretty informal. I ask them how they wrote it, inspirations behind it and just kind of have a chat with them. There’s been a lot of books I really loved, the first book we ever read was called “Exciting Times” by Naoise Dolan. That’s one of my favourite books ever. I really connected with it, and with the protagonist, and Naoise has now become a friend. I also really loved Sofia Thakur’s poetry book “Give This Heart a Pen”. I love her poetry. It’s some of my favourite writing that I’ve read in ages, it’s really inspiring.”
Through the book club she has incorporated, books, music and poetry, and in poetry month she created a platform for her followers to showcase their own work. She’s also responded to fans, who have sung covers of her songs; we discussed the importance of that engagement and interaction for her.
“It’s really important, I’m really lucky that I have fans that are so engaged and talented. What I have created becomes almost like a meeting place for lots of other people. It’s really cool to get to share that and to boost their art or whatever it is they’re making. It feels like a nice purpose to my page and use of the platform. “
In previous interviews she has talked about enjoying the music and not taking things too seriously, and has that become much harder as she’s gained more recognition. We spoke about how she maintains a positive self-image in an industry which can be quite critical of female artists.
“As pressure builds and you do something for longer, the more invested you are in it. The more time, energy and love you put into it, the more time you sacrifice for it. So it’s definitely something that you have to balance. It can also be very difficult, as in the moment when you do this sort of thing you’re split 100 different ways. For that reason, it’s really important that whenever something really good happens to make sure you mentally snapshot it, so when other things are going on, when you don’t feel as good or as confident, and you’re not in that positive space, to remember why you do it.
“I’ve been working since I was 15/16 which has definitely been challenging and I’m sure I’ll unpack it all in therapy in 40 years’ time! But I’m lucky to have a really wonderful team around me and always have. So I’ve been very lucky in that respect, but it’s a lot. It’s about having thick skin. I’m trying to listen to the opinions of those who matter, who know me in real life, family and friends and taking other people’s comments with a pinch of salt.”
With other artists achieving success at a young age and showing visible signs of not managing their mental health we discussed how she copes with her mental wellbeing.
“I think because I’ve been in it for so long, since 2015/16 it’s interesting, compared to now feels like a very different era for women in music. I was a teenage girl making pop music. That in itself was a whole roller coaster, I’ve been in it a long time, you understand things and you know the way things work. You’re able to shortcut things because you’ve been through it. I know in certain conversations what people mean, when they say one thing that they mean another. Naturally I think I have relatively thick skin and I’m actually fairly un-sensitive, which has done wonders for me in this career. I would recommend it, but it’s obviously difficult. I’m really lucky to have got to do it for as long as I have. And I as I said, I’ve had overall positive experiences. “
With connectivity though technology becoming a huge part of our lives and being able to connect wherever you are in the world for an interview, has she been able to balance and vocalise when she isn’t mentally feeling up to doing interviews.
“It’s something I’m trying to learn to be better at. It’s such a double edged sword because as the artist, it’s my career, it’s my music, it’s very much my thing. So the more I do, it helps me, and the less I do it may not help me. So it can feel difficult to work that out. But I’m only 21 and still very young. It is something that you just have to figure out and learn. If you have good people around you, which I do, then it makes it a lot easier.”
Having had songs featured on Love Island and on the soundtrack to the film Birds of Prey, as well as writing songs for the Apple TV series Trying season 1 and 2, I was interested from a musicians perspective with how different the creative process is for writing for film and TV, compared to writing music for herself.
“Birds of Prey” was very different sonically and the universe of “Birds of Prey” is a million miles away from the universe of Masie Peters but I really enjoyed the challenge. There was a real character I think I was playing there, it was really fun. Whereas with making the soundtrack for season two, it was almost the opposite, as I’ll always make that type of music that I can make in my sleep. It’s sort of that world of folk pop and loads of lyrics and cool little chords and soft, key words, it’s the softest product ever. That felt very natural to me. So a lot of that soundtrack really is me, it’s the characters, but surely, it’s my life it’s really beautiful, like an amalgamation of all those things.”
Having had a cameo on “Trying” and from her song John Hughes Movie it’s evident that she loves movies, So I had to ask if there is any chance she wants to act or dabble in other creative mediums?
“Definitely, but I haven’t really had the chance to explore it properly. I’d be interested in trying my hand at those things; I’ve been very much a musician for a long time but it’s always cool to experiment and do things that don’t come naturally to you.
Now things have opened up again and she is touring and doing festivals, she explained how she’s feeling about showcasing the new album.
“I’m really excited to play these songs on tour and get to draw attention to the album. That’s kind of the point of making albums, to play them. It feels like a really distinct world. So it’ll be crazy and really fun to play this album live. I’m really hopeful that we’ll get to do that this year, next year, and get to take it on the road. “
Nearing the end of the interview it was only fitting I found out what’s in the future for Peters, and what kind of venues is she looking forward to going back to?
“I’m not sure yet, because I actually don’t know what venues we’re doing. I refuse to let my manager tell me any venues that I’m playing because it stresses me out. So I just get told that I have to announce the tour and then I just announce it.”
For someone so young Maisie comes across as self-assured and well versed in her field, she doesn’t appear to shy away from trying new things and it will be interesting to see what her next creative project is. For now we can enjoy her talents in her debut album You Signed Up For This which is out now.
Words: Tonya Antoniou
Photography: Lillie Eiger