INTERVIEW: Maisie Peters

Maisie Peters has been unravelling her candid thoughts to the world over the past three years through a string of emotionally charged singles, as well as her reflective EP’s ‘Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket’ and ‘It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral’. The British singer-songwriter quickly won over a passionate fanbase thanks to her raw honesty that is embedded into every song unashamedly. And the fans are expanding with Peters rounding off a US headline tour last year and recently being included on the Birds Of Prey film soundtrack. 

Following the release of her singles ‘Sad Girl Summer’, ‘The List’ and ‘Daydreams’, she is ready to bring another new song into the world. ‘Maybe Don’t’ hears her teaming up with Canadian rising singer-songwriter JP Saxe for her first ever duet. This minimalist track acts as a confessional moment that builds into a quirky little singalong. Reflecting on the idea of being scared of your own feelings, they explore how easy it is to just run away and pretend that the situation doesn’t exist. But they then throw in the roadblock of when the other person tries to stop them from doing that. It’s such a relatable and catchy song that will have you immediately bopping along. 

I recently chatted to Maisie Peters about collaborating with JP Saxe on her new single ‘Maybe Don’t’, and we dived deep into the stories behind some of her most vulnerable lyrics. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Maybe Don’t’ featuring JP Saxe is out September 25, and it’s a very honest and beautiful track that hears both of your voices melting together perfectly. So how did this song creatively come together? 

MAISIE PETERS: It’s quite cute actually! JP and I have known each other for a while now, and we’ve spoken about writing together before but it’s never really lined up. And then he was in London playing a show at Shepherds Bush, so I went to see him and he was like “tomorrow I have a day off, but in the evening I’m going to Paris. So I have the day free if you want to write?”. And I was like “yes of course” because I’m like the biggest JP fan ever. All of my friends know that I LOVE his music, so it was a big deal. So we booked in the session, and I reached out to my friend Joe Rubel and asked if we could use his studio in King Cross and if we wanted to write with us.

JP also knew that I was a massive fan, so I was so nervous as I felt such a pressure to deliver to the king of lyrics! So we got together that day in London and it was raining so hard. I remember turning up to the studio and I was soggy. It was so bad! 

We all just sat down together and came up with this song. We started at 11 and had to finish by 5, so it was a very speedy. We wrote the whole song, demo’d it and then JP ran off to Paris *laughs*.

So Joe produced the song and we got it to a really cool place, but it didn’t feel completely finished so I suggested that we send it to Afterhrs who did ‘Sad Girl Summer’ to do the final touches. So yeah, the song was really a group effort between the five of us.

TB: The production is quite light and gave me some old school Taylor Swift vibes, so what sonically inspired you with this track?

MP: Essentially the song started with Joe in the booth, and it was really important that it was very minimalist. Im sure I will play the first demo one day, but it was SUPER minimal. I guess it was very inspired by Jeremy Zucker, Lorde, and that world of minimalist pop which embraces only adding things element by element, and if they’re not 100% necessary then they’re taking them out. We were trying to keep it really light, immediate and warm. 

TB: I also love the fact that you both harmonised a lot together and almost had a call and response delivery.

MP: Thank you! JP is amazing at harmonies, but I’m also just such a big fan of duets in general, so it’s surprising that it’s taken me so long to do one because I’ve always loved them. ‘The Boy Is Mine’ by Brandy and Monica is iconic and one of the best songs of all time, and that’s a fact.

I just love hearing voices together. I feel like duets is a real thing that there has been quite a bit of in 2020, but I’m happy to add to it. 

TB: Now recently, Taylor Swift actually replied to your cover of ‘Betty’ on Twitter. I know you love Taylor, so how did you truly react when you saw that? 

MP: So I was actually writing with my friend Ben, and I went to the toilet and I saw it and did a little shriek *laughs*. My sister called me and was like “Have you seen it?!” and I was like “Yes” and she was like “good” and hung up *laughs*. 

It was really exciting! I didn’t expect it at all because it was the day after the album came out and everyone was posting their covers and generally dying about ‘Folklore’, and I was just one of the masses. Taylor is one of my biggest inspirations, and ‘Folklore’ has also become a huge inspiration recently. So I was totally honoured.

TB: Your recent single ‘Sad Girl Summer’ is quite a vibey and empowering little number that is all about helping your friends move on through a breakup. And for this song you also recorded an “emo version”. So how did you find the process of stripping it back, or was it more a bit of the opposite with the emo version being how you originally wrote it and then you produced it up? 

MP: It was definitely the former, and then stripped back later. The official single version is actually really similar to the version we did on the day. It was this really fun, fast paced, hilarious bop. And then for the emo version, I’m just really a fan of emo versions in general. I didn’t want to call it an acoustic version as there were some fun production bits in it. So Joe and I worked on it during lockdown, and we spent a lot of time sending things back and forth to each other and building it up. 

It was really fun to put together, and I think the best way to describe it is that it’s kinda like a spooky Sims 3 vibe *laughs*. 

TB: Your debut EP ‘Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket’ and your follow up ‘It’s Your Bed Babe, Its Your Funeral’ showcased such a distinct growth in your confidence sonically, and has seen you lyrically open up to listeners so candidly. So what would you say you’ve learnt about yourself from releasing those EP’s that you’ve brought into this next chapter with ‘The List’, ‘Sad Girl Summer’ and ‘Maybe Don’t’?  

MP: I think you just learn so much sub-consciously through just making music every day, putting things out, and learning what worked, what people loved, what didn’t, and analysing what you would change if you could go back. 

I think there’s a lot to be learned in having confidence in what you’re doing. I’m a big believer in writing the song in the day and then moving on. I’m not one to spend ages on an idea. I’m impatient anyways *laughs*.  The key I think is just not thinking and just doing. 

TB: When I first heard you in 2018, the thing that immediately captivated me was your honest songwriting. So I was wondering if we could go for a walk down memory lane with some of my favourite lyrics from your songs, and you could share with us the story behind it or a little anecdote relating to it? 

MP: Absolutely! This will be so funny!

TB: “Look, I don’t think I want you to myself. But I know I don’t want you with anybody else” – Details 

M: I’m reading you so hard right now Thomas! That is Class A Simp behaviour *laughs*. That lyric was, and still is a favourite of mine too. I wrote it with John Green, who is now a really great friend of mine. I think that lyric speaks volumes by itself. I remember doing it, and feeling like it doesn’t fit, and that it feels quite jagged in the song. But I was like “no John, we have to sing this lyric” because there is such accuracy to it. 

I think I could summaries every single relationship I’ve had, whether it’s romantic, platonic or business like, with the sentiment that sometimes you don’t know what you want from someone, but you definitely know that you don’t want them to want anyone else, and that you want to be their favourite, even though they aren’t your favourite. It’s a really common but interesting 2020 viewpoint on love. I feel like it also kinda ties into ‘Maybe Don’t’ as it has a similar vibe in a weird way. 

TB: “I am missing you more than I should. Guess I’m not out of the woods” – Look At Me Now

M: Ahh sad Maisie! ‘Look At Me Now’ is a song that I actually wrote with Rory Adams whose from Australia, and a guy called Steve Robson. I was really ill that day, and we had this idea of writing a song called ‘Look At Me Now’ but some of us there were going through a really hard time so we were like instead of writing in it a fun way, let’s write this idea in a really shit sad way. 

Those particular lyrics came together really easily. People always think it’s a little easter egg to Taylor Swift’s ‘Out Of The Woods’ which it isn’t, but it could be as I love that song. I love the idea of missing someone with the objective truth of know that they aren’t missing you. Its really difficult to deal with and understand how you are hurting so much when they are fine and moving on. 

TB: “Oh I, I’ve got an attic full of damage in my mind. I box it up, say I’ll deal with it another night” – The List

M: Thomas Bleach, you don’t need Maisie Peters lyrics, you need therapy *laughs*. I mean it goes back on myself as they are my lyrics, so it’s okay we can go together *laughs*. 

This is in verse two where we have this line and the iconic “I have a problem with looking people in the eyes”. And that’s just about depression and not dealing with your shit. I think it’s a very true thing for me and so many others. And it’s also a little nod to the fact that I’ve just recently moved but for a long time I was just bouncing around peoples houses couch surfing, and sleeping in a lot of people’s attics.

I was really nervous to release this song as it just felt very personal to me, but the response was amazing. 

TB: “I run from the things that I want the most” – Maybe Don’t

M: Thank you for liking that lyric, because I feel like this song is the first time I haven’t gone super elaborate with lyrics, and have tried to keep it clean like the production. I really wanted to only say the most essential and necessary thing. 

So it’s funny looking back at the lyric sheet from the day because there were a lot more “typical me” lyrics that were describing the theme in which I had the conversation, and describe the weather and the place in London from the day. But in the end it really ended up being a clean and honest testament to the emotions of the song. 

JP actually wrote that lyric, but it really is the most me lyric ever *laughs*. I think it was another one of the psychoanalysis therapy sessions, with JP singing these lyrics about me, and me going “oh yeah that is definitely me, BIG RETWEET”

‘Maybe Don’t’ is out now!