The young singer-songwriter Maisie Peter cut her teeth in Brighton and via YouTube, where she posted a lot of her songs, just her and a guitar. Just 18, she’s already a brilliant and mature songwriter, developing quite a following in a short space of time. She’s just got back from supporting Tom Walker on tour in the United States, has released an EP, Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket, and is about to head out on a UK tour. In May she’ll be performing at The Great Escape.
Whilst out in the States, she talks to Jeff Hemmings about her inspirations, how YouTube has worked for her, Brighton life, and the exciting times ahead for her.
How is your States experience so far, what have you been doing?
Crazy! It is my first time here and it is very different from the UK in lots of ways (no one walks anywhere and it’s sort of like shabby chic glam old Hollywood ghost town). I’ve mainly just been writing with lots of cool American writers and producers, and I also shot a music video for my next single which looks amazing.
How was the Tom Walker tour?
Was so good, I learnt so, so much and it was such a good experience and training, playing live for nights on nights in a row. Tom is also a complete legend and so it was really cool to get to make friends with him and learn about his musical journey.
You headlined a show a few years back, at Latest Music Bar. Do you remember that one?
Oh my god, of course I do! That was my first ever Brighton headline, I think I was 14 or 15?! All my friends and family came down and then like five fans and I sang ‘Gold Digger’ as my encore, and I thought it was the highlight of my whole life. Wow, it was such a funny, beautiful night in hindsight.
Were you born and raised in the area, and are you still living here? What do you like, and not like about it!?
Yes, I was born in Brighton and then moved around the area for the last 18 years. I love Brighton so, so much, I still feel like it’s my hometown and returning there after I’ve spent the week in London feels like a breath of fresh air. I love the sea and the people, I don’t like the lack of a train station in the small town where I live specifically (laughs).
What’s your music background? How did you get into it?
My parents were really into music and let me and my sister discover our own favourite music from an early age – I loved ABBA, Girls Aloud and the Sugarbabes, Lily Allen, female voices and writers. I picked up a guitar when I was 13, inspired by Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ and started writing songs, and the rest is sort of history.
So, who are your musical inspirations and heroes?
Taylor Swift! But also so, so many people, like Sara Bareilles, Lily Allen, Kacey Musgraves, and recently Dolly Parton.
You first started uploading your songs on YouTube, which seems such a brilliant way to get your songs out there, and to build a fanbase. How important has it been?
So important! Absolutely my whole music career would not have happened if I hadn’t uploaded original music to YouTube and it’s always the first thing I recommend to people who want know how to get started. Original music on the internet. The best tool ever.
I love the fact you post the chords, and lyrics too…
Thank you, I think it’s a hangover from being a musician YouTuber because the whole community used to do it and now I’ve just kept doing it.
‘Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket’ is an interesting phrase. Can you elaborate?
Okay, so it has several different meanings to me. The EP in general is all about the past few years of my life, about living in a small village near Brighton, and going out with all my mates, getting way too dressed up to go and drink wine from a straw in someone’s kitchen and fall in love with strangers from other schools for a night. My friend Jack once made the joke that ‘you know the night is over when Maisie puts on her coat’, and so for me freezing my head off in sacrifice of the outfit and the moment is like the pinnacle of a memorable night, which is what loads of these songs embody. It’s also just generally my favourite lyric from the EP I think.
The EP is fantastic. There is a bigger production and sound on it. Was that a big stage to deal with, having others involved in your creations?
Actually, no. I have always loved being collaborative and have been working with different super talented writers and producers for over two years now, and all of the people I worked on the EP with have since become great friends of mine, so it really was just the most fun ever to make music with them. I like to be very in control in the actual writing of the song, but I love hearing other ideas for production and so many of my friends are so talented it’s amazing to get to work with them.
I was just speaking to Grace Carter, another Brighton artist, do you know her? She said her songs were a catharsis, a form of therapy. Do you feel the same?
I love Grace, she’s amazing! And yeah definitely, I feel like I get to write tiny little books every day and create new endings and beginnings and moments that I might not have got in real life, which is really therapeutic in a strange way.
You’ve got a great looking tour of the UK coming up next month. Your London date at O’Meara is sold out, which must be exciting. The Komedia date will very much be a home gig too. Are they different to do?
I’m so excited for both! I think they will both feel super special because Brighton is obviously my hometown, so there will be loads of my day one friends and family. But my London show is my first ever London headline, and will also have lots of my new adopted friends and family from London.
Do you remember your first experience of performing in public. How old were you?
God, that is a good question. I remember being in a ballet show when I was really, really young, maybe like six? It was near the Pavilion and I remember practicing in the café area of Pavilion Gardens, and feeling like I was an absolute STAR! An attention seeker since the beginning.
There seems to be a lot of anxiety and unhappiness, particularly amongst the young. Is this something you sense, and what’s the answer?
Uhhhhh, that is a big question, and my answer is way too long for this interview (laughs). I will say it’s daunting thinking about all the voices and moments and relationships that exist in the world, all the issues and arguments and feuds between people. But also I feel super hopeful and inspired by my generation; it feels like a real group of people who are educated and accepting and desperate to see and make change. So yeah, it’s a lot, but an overarching theme of goodness I think.
Plans for later in the year?
Release more music. Go on more tours. Become a better musician and writer and daughter and friend and person in general.