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It was a Monday night in New York City and Maisie Peters spoke out to about 1,500 close friends.
“In this next song, I’m singing ‘Sushi and a Fake ID.’ And the friend whose fake ID that was, Natasha, is here tonight,” she announced to the crowd in Webster Hall, waving a theatrical wave.
“In this song I also sing: ‘He’s fit, go for it'”, continued Peters. “That boy, who was fit, who I went for, is here tonight. Say hello, Joe!”
It is no small feat to turn a sold-out concert into a cozy sleepover. Peters’ candor can feel spontaneous, even unwise at times – in “Villain” she confesses she was “drunk and mean” outside her ex’s house, and in “Psycho” she compares another former flame to a serial killer – but in reality Peters masters the art of selective intimacy, giving her the ability to turn into who the listener needs her to be.
In ‘Brooklyn’, the song she was preparing to perform, she exerts this power with ease, transforming from a British indie pop superstar into your best friend who can’t wait to tell you about her vacation in the city.
The song tells the true story of a journey she took with her twin sister when she was 19. Every detail has been handpicked and honed to pop perfection: a lonely jacket on a cold plane at 3am; a drunken rendezvous in Harlem; an attractive American boy who caught her attention in a bar.
At a popular brunch spot in the East Village the next day, Peters, now 21, didn’t even hesitate when I asked her to tell me about Joe.
With her aforementioned friend Natasha, Peters had gone to a college party at Columbia University, where they played the drinking game Rage Cage and Peters embarked on a “little holiday romance.”
“It’s actually a really sweet story and not at all dramatic,” she admitted, sipping her chai latte. The exes still keep in touch, even though she hadn’t seen Joe since 2019 and didn’t tell him he’d be getting a shout-out on stage.
“I’m the same person in my music,” she explains. “But there’s definitely some kind of artist switch that flips you. Then you think, ‘I can’t believe I did that. never do that.'”
To my surprise, Peters described herself as “relatively passive” in her daily life. Her lyrics would suggest otherwise.
“I understand that very much,” she nodded. “I’ve put a lot of things into my songs that I might never say to people and I would never say to people. Hilarious.”
Peters recently took on a more classic pop star look, trading her natural brown hair for a halo of blonde — a process she affectionately referred to as “Bleachella,” referring to Taylor Swift’s famous platinum bob at Coachella in 2016.
“It’s my first kind of big hair change and it was relatively spontaneous,” she said. “I feel more chaotic, more prone to risky decisions. I make a risky decision and I’m like, ‘Well, I’m blonde now, so it feels good.'”
Peters grew up as a self-proclaimed “demure” brunette in Steyning, a small seaside town in Sussex, England. From an early age she had a voracious appetite for music that was definitely not genetic; she described her father as “tone deaf” and her mother and sister as “not far away.”
She started writing songs at the age of 12, modeling her “troubadour” style after the likes of Swift, Sara Bareilles and Lily Allen, as well as folk legends like Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell.
In those early years, most of her work was fictional, sung from the perspective of imaginary admirers or TV characters. She clearly remembers writing a song about Meredith and Derek’s fraught love affair from “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“When you start songwriting so young, you have nothing else to talk about. There’s only so much you can talk about that guy from science,” Peters said. “You have to expand. I actually just pretended to be someone.’
Even now known as a deeply professed lyricist, Peters doesn’t subscribe to the idea that resonant songwriting has to be factually accurate. She wouldn’t sacrifice the best rhyme in ‘Love Him I Don’t’, for example – ‘With you by my favorite cousin / Lighting cigarettes from an oven / Fell for you and got a bad concussion’ – just because the person who suggested her to an old lover who was not related by blood.
“Sometimes people almost hold back at responsible. It’s like, ‘This has got to be 100% fair,’ which is if not true,” she explained. ‘Or what’s more accurate is that everything is true. Everything is rooted in truth and honesty. When I write, I notice that everything is something I’ve felt or seen someone close to me feel.”
“Without sounding like a dick, it’s art,” she added with a shrug. “It’s telling stories and painting a painting.”
Peters’ prodigious talent for storytelling and sonic portraiture caught the eye of Ed Sheeran, who signed Peters to his Gingerbread Man Records label last year.
Sheeran also wrote several songs on her 2021 debut album ‘You Signed Up for This’, including fan favorite single ‘Psycho’. During their very first studio session together, they created their two siblings: the arresting acoustic ballad “Hollow” and the cheeky kiss-off “Boy”.
Peters described her immediate connection to Sheeran as “healthy” and “a little familiar.”
“It sounds funny to say because he’s the biggest star in the world, but we just had a lot of mutual friends,” she explained, taking producers Joe Rubel and Fred Gibson (known again professionally as Fred…) as examples. mentioned.
“We’re very similar to the way we work,” she continued. “I’d also like to think in our personalities. I feel like I like a lot of myself on him and how he works, just because it’s really inspiring, and I think he’s the most talented and really the sweetest, the most at the same time.” polite, the most courteous to all.”
With three diamond-certified songs and a still impeccable reputation, Sheeran might be the ideal person to turn to when navigating the mercurial music industry. Indeed, Peters said Sheeran gave her two pieces of advice “that will stay with me forever, as important as each other.”
“One of them is, ‘If you don’t want to get wasted, stay away from ghosts with little hats on,'” she said.
The second, she added, is a bit more serious.
“It’s just that, when we do what we do, there are some really high highs, but you’ll also go through periods of lows and you’ll go through periods of doubt or things aren’t working the way you want them to,” Peters said. “Ed has always said, and I agree so much, that it’s very important not to base your self-esteem in either period.”
Getting out of the peak of a sold-out concert, with hundreds or thousands of people screaming the stories of your own life, can be a challenge for any performer.
“I have a lyric that I haven’t used yet. So maybe I will, who knows? But I remember writing something like, ‘There’s nothing like an empty hotel room in a country you don’t know to give you longing to call someone you don’t speak to anymore,” said Peters.
“I’m not necessarily an extrovert, but there’s something about that whiplash,” she added, popping a small potato into her mouth as she glanced up. “It’s the perfect word.”
Although her first headlining tour in North America will end on April 1 in Los Angeles, Peters has no plans to slow down. She will join Sheeran on his stadium tour this summer, which kicks off in Dublin on April 23.
Most impressively, Peters already has several songs for her next album. (Ideally, you’d have Jack Harlow, who Peters named as her celebrity crush: “I actually met him once and there’s no one more lenient.”)
After finishing work on “You Signed Up for This,” which arrived last August, Peters had a “crazy” schedule of promotional activity, from book signings and interviews to festival sets and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
When she returned to London, she found the “deadly silence” so unnerving that she simply threw herself back into the studio. It turns out that whiplash can be inspiring.
“There was no time to really think or worry,” Peters said. “I was really worried after I made the first album.”
“I loved the album so much, I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can make something I love so much,'” she continued. “There’s something about a first album that’s really special. But I love this new stuff that I’ve made and I’m so excited about it.”
“It’s the most ‘me’ I’ve been in all my music,” Peters added, brushing her bleached bangs off her face. Sometimes it seems we have to change what seems natural to find what feels right.
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