INTERVIEW: Sloan Peterson

Exploring her sound and identity as an artist, Sloan Peterson has re-shifted her indie-rock trajectory towards a new pop direction. Finding freedom within the songwriting style and contrasting light production elements, the Sydney based singer-songwriter has created this exciting theatrical world that her new music will live within. 

Following her signing to Warner Music Australia last year, she released the redefining introductory single ‘Nightmare’ which boldly cemented the exciting creative vision. Playing on the idea of being a lovers worst nightmare, she gave you this very taunting angle which was so quirky and addictive. Stepping into the next release, she’s decided to show a versatility in her artistry by giving a more minimalist and retrospective pop moment.  

‘Moon & Back’ is a song that will take you back to the early 2000’s when Gwen Stefani’s debut album ‘Love Angel Music Baby’ was reigning supreme. Captivating Peterson’s creative spark, the track ‘Luxurious’ in particular inspired a rhythmic and seductive exploration in the studio. Using that song as a reference, they built up this production that pays homage to that era before lyrically exploring how far you’d go for love. The romantic track is warm and glittery, which is a combination we definitely didn’t know we loved.

I recently sat down with Sloan Peterson to chat about the Gwen Stefani influence behind her new single ‘Moon & Back’, found out just how far she would go for love, and reflected on the concept for the music video and that stunning gold dress. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Moon & Back’ is a dreamy pop moment that is all about how far you would go for love. Can you explain how this track creatively came together? 

SLOAN PETERSON: This one was really interesting as it was quite spontaneous. I went into a co-write session with Kiah Gossner after really hitting it off with them and deciding that we wanted to write a song together. We basically spent 7 hours working on a different song that I just didn’t connect with. The whole time I was just going through it because sometimes in those hard moments you just have to push through. And it was actually only my second co-write that I had ever done, so I was trying to give it the opportunity. 

But that morning on the way to the session I had been listening to Gwen Stefani’s album ‘Love Angel Music Baby’ and the song specifically ‘Luxurious’ was what I was focusing on. I really just loved the RNB, smooth and sexy elements to it. I got to a point in the day where I was just over it and I just had to speak my mind as I was just trying to sing this other song. It was as if my throat was closing up, I just couldn’t perform. He was trying to encourage me to keep pushing through, but I just knew it needed to be authentic. I needed to feel it. 

I was like “I’m really not enjoying this song. I feel like I’ve given it a go but it’s just not happening. I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time’. He reassured me it was okay and suggested we go to lunch and come back and reassess. We came back and I was like “let’s scrap it”, so we did, and that was the beginning of ‘Moon & Back’.

My mum had called me, and I said to her at the end of the call “I love you to moon and back”, which is something I always say. So when I got off the phone we were trying to think of the next idea and he had this RNB influenced beat going which reminded me of ‘Luxurious’. I was really feeling it, and within 2 hours we had that whole song written. The chorus took a while, but I suggested something simple like “love you to the moon and back” and it just worked really well. It wasn’t specifically written around my partner, it was more-so a simple song of how far you would go for love. 

TB: What was it explicitly about ‘Love Angel Music Baby’ and the song ‘Luxurious’ that had you feeling creatively in orbit? 

SP: I think it was more-so the simplicity of it. It’s also just got this really iconic sound to it. It’s funny because it wasn’t my favourite song off the album when I first heard it. I think ‘Bubble Pop Electric’ was THE one. 

TB: I was about to ask you what your favourite song off ‘Love Angel Music Baby’ was, and if it wasn’t ‘Bubble Pop Electric’ I was gonna walk out of this interview *laughs*. 

SP: *Laughs* No, that was actually my favourite song! I know every single lyric, and I love singing it on the top of my lungs. I want to do a song similar to that vibe one day. Like that spoken word part “Tell your father I said hello // Johnny Get out of here”. It’s so iconic! So it was interesting coming back to that now because I listened to that album a lot when I was younger. But it was the sounds that got me. It was such a defining moment of that time. I just feel like there is another resurface of early 2000’s right now, and I feel like I really wanted to tap into that a little bit and have some really defining and iconic sounds in the song. 

TB: The line that lyrically stood out to me in the song is “shooting for the stars, can you handle that”. What’s the story behind that lyric?

SP: Okay so that line was actually specifically directed at my partner *laughs*. We had a pretty rocky 2 years before the start of this year. I was trying to find my feet, and almost gave up on music. But then all of a sudden I’m being thrown in to being signed by a major label, and it was a big difference. 

He’s very complacent, and I can’t fault him because he’s so happy. But for me I want to be shooting for the stars, and sometimes I feel bad when I get really driven and busy as it ends up falling into the relationship as you don’t see each other or talk for a while. The relationship we had was quite intense before that as we were together ALL the time. So when I started to focus on something, there was that moment where I was like I am going to shoot for the stars and questioned if he could handle that, and not run away, and actually be there for me. So that was a very directed line towards him *laughs*. 

TB: As a bit of a romanticist, what is the biggest gesture you’ve done for love? 

SP: For me, my parents are still together, and honestly that is pretty unheard of now as I don’t think any of my friends parents are still together. And I’m somebody that stays to the bitter end, even if it’s dangerous for me. And I think that’s the difference as a lot of people can notice when a relationship is toxic and bail. Or a lot of people don’t put up with a lot of shit that I do. I become quite a bit of a mother to the people that I end up in relationships with. 

The reason I was in Sydney was because I was in a very abusive relationship where I kept thinking I was going to fix him. My parents had to really push me away to get me away from that situation because I would literally go to the moon and back for someone, and it’s not always reciprocated. A lot of people are smarter, and they choose themselves. But I’ve learnt over the past couple of months that I need to put myself first, and start choosing myself more often in situations, and it’s really rewarding.

 

TB: The music video is dreamy, simple and aesthetically pleasing. What did you really want to capture within this video?

SP: It’s really interesting because we had quite a few different treatments for that. My music video for ‘Nightmare’ was very theatrical and had a storyline that was kind of hard to convey, but we got there. I don’t like taking myself too seriously a lot of the time, so ‘Moon & Back’ was a difficult challenge for me because it is a little bit more of a serious song. And the video clip represented that as it is a bit more of a beauty piece. And to be honest with you I struggled with the outcome a little bit, but I’m really happy with it as we got through it and make it work. 

The director Alexander Smith is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a very long time. I really respect what he does, he’s an amazing editor, and I really love the vintage feel he has on everything. There was also a really amazing story between me and Alex because when I first released my debut single ‘105’ in 2017 I was on my own financially. I saved $2500 from working at the button shop and I emailed him and told him my budget and asked if he would do the video clip for the song. And he replied and said “sorry, I usually charge $25,000” and I was like “oh, maybe I can afford that one day” *laughs*. He ended up putting me forward for this competition for The Strand Arcade in Sydney, as they were doing an interactive music video  and the budget was around $75,000. They ended up choosing my song, but they didn’t choose him. So I’ve always felt the honour to him, and have had my heart set on working with him.

We had a few theatrical treatments that were similar to ‘Nightmare’, but we decided to go with simplest treatment because the song is so simple. It’s very 2000’s to do that style if video. It’s not groundbreaking, but I think I like that. It’s very cliche, but still holds onto my sixties and french elements to it. 

TB: And that gold dress in the video….

SP: Oh my god! So that’s a replica of that Paco Rabanne dress that Francoise Hardy wore in the sixties. His prop assistant Daisy is incredible. It turns out that she’s best friends with my bosses daughter from the button shop! She spent two days with all of those little gold squares and linked them all together. It was such a heavy dress, and in some of the scenes I look drunk because it’s so heavy and I was getting so tired. 

TB: This song has a lot of galaxy visuals in the music video and lyrically as well. So if you were able to travel to any planet, what one would you go to and why? 

SP: Probably Jupiter! If we’re talking about me going to space, and that being an actual possibility, then Jupiter seems like a really fun planet to walk around *laughs*. 

TB: It’s been a while since you released ‘Midnight Love Vol. 2’ in 2019, and since then your sonical direction has shifted quite heavily with ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Moon & Back’ steering you in more of a pop direction. What is the biggest thing you learnt about yourself as an artist during this time that has impacted this directional shift?

SP: The biggest impact is the fact that I’ve got to co-write for the first ever time. So the whole process has been shared. I generally would write everything myself, and with the album I released in 2019 I really didn’t have any support from anyone to tell me that I was heading in the right direction, or if the lyrics could be changed/altered. 

That whole thing was recorded in one day with the drum, guitars, and bass player. There are so many differences of how DIY that was compared to this experience now where I’ve met my manager James. He really just believes in me, and it makes so much difference when you have someone who really believes in you more than you believe in yourself, and can encourage you and tell you that you’re enough. 

I had just written five songs, and to share them with Andy Hopkins who was the producer on ‘Nightmare’ was a big turning point. He just really encouraged my stories and humour within them, and it’s really helped me grow. So now I go into sessions with just stories or lyric ideas written down, and I find it more fun to bounce it off with someone else and build it from there.

TB: Lets play a quick game of rapid fire questions. You ready? 

SP: *clenches teeth* I’m terrified!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new single Moon & Back is…

SP: The Bowie with the lighting bolt!

TB: A TV show I’ve binged during lockdown has been…

SP: Bridgeton! That was the last one I watched, it’s like a period piece Gossip Girl *laughs*. 

TB: The colour of my toothbrush at the moment is…

SP: Pink at the moment in the hotel. But at home I have an electric one! 

TB: If I could have any superpower it would be to…

SP: Be invisible!

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

SP: Amazing! Omg, YES! All the way! 

‘Moon & Back’ is out now!

Sloan Peterson East Coast Tour

Thursday 22 April – La La La’s – Wollongong

Friday 23 April – Waywards – Sydney

Saturday 24 April – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle

Thursday 6 May – Volta – Ballarat

Friday 7 May – Major Tom’s – Kyneton

Saturday 8 May -Workers Club, Melbourne

Thursday 13 May – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane

Friday 14 May – Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Gold Coast

Saturday 15 May – Solbar, Sunshine Coast