Storytelling savant Maisie Peters discusses how she honed her songwriting style and her growing body of work, including new EP ‘It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral’, and much more!
‘It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral’ – Maisie Peters
Maisie Peters speaks with complete confidence and complete shock of her success and stardom all at once. However, she shouldn’t be shocked at all. The 19-year-old British self-proclaimed ‘Queen of the people’ (we agree) is about to take the world by storm, and she deserves every bit of it.
Peters has a natural, un-rehearsed way about her that is captured in everything she does – it’s why her songs are so honest and relatable, and it’s why people are so taken with her. Charming as ever, Peters spoke with Atwood Magazine about her body of work, including her newly-released EP It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral (October 4, 2019 via Elektra Records), how she honed her storytelling songwriting style, the happy accidents and innate decisions that led to her success so far, and will only continue to do so in the future.
We stan the emo girl pop queen, and you will too.
A CONVERSATION WITH MAISIE PETERS
Atwood Magazine: You’re an incredibly gifted songwriter. You have that intangible quality of putting relatable situations into words that no one has ever put them into before making the listener feel exactly what you want them to feel. I’d put you up there with Taylor Swift and Joni Mitchell. How did you hone that skill? How much of it is just natural vs. process?
Maisie Peters: First of all, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me. I’m going to put that on my tombstone. (We both laugh).
It’s interesting, as a kid I read so many books. I was such a reader. I was also massively into Taylor Swift – I’m the biggest Taylor Swift fan everyone knows this, but also Joni Mitchell, Lilly Allen and Sara Bareillis – all of these women who I actually grew up on. I really absorbed so much of that personal articulate lyrical style both from artists and reading. I used to write stories as well. The idea of narrative, setting the scene and introducing the characters has always been sort of ingrained into who I am. It was always how I wanted to write. I always wanted to write lyrics that were really meaningful and intelligent and tell a story – that’s the most important thing to me. So, I think from doing it so often – I wrote a song a day probably for four or five years for no other reason than I just really loved doing it. This was back when I was twelve to about sixteen – I had a YouTube channel at the end of it, but most of it was just on my own. I loved creating these songs and stories and people – sometimes they were about my real life and sometimes it was just total made up characters. After doing it for so long it just turned into my style. It’s almost like I can’t help but to do it. I don’t know how I would write any other way. Sorry, did that answer your question?
Yes, that absolutely did. It’s amazing you wrote a song a day for so long.
Maisie Peters: Yeah, there was a good few years where I wrote all the time. It’s such a skill – like anything else it’s a craft – you have to practice and get used to doing it and then it comes more naturally, because you’re doing something that you’re so used to doing.
Definitely. So, I’m going to start quickly with Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket, and then I promise we’ll get into It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral.
Maisie Peters: Of course.
“Details” has I think one of the best bridges ever. I’m wondering if that was a part of the song you knew you needed or if you naturally stumbled across it.
Maisie Peters: I love that, I love such specific questions – that’s like me, I’m that sort of people. So, with that bridge. The rest of the song was already there, but I knew we needed a middle eight. It’s funny so it all came chronologically with the bridge and it got to the line where it goes, (she takes a quick pause while recalling the lyrics) “Look I don’t think I want you to myself, but I know I don’t want you with anybody else” So normally, I’m very much free flow. I’ll place the lyric as it finds me, and I won’t push anything in – I’m not a fan of shoe-horning things. But with that lyric, it’s funny because if you listen it is quite shoe horned in. I was talking to my co-writer John describing exactly the feeling of “look I don’t think I want to go out with you, but I definitely don’t want anyone else to go out with you.” I was so adamant. I was like this lyric has to go in, and that’s one of the only times I’ve really done that. Yeah, it’s funny you mention that bridge, because a lot of people mention that bridge. I think it’s a fan fav, and I love it too. I love a middle eight – I feel like they’re highly underrated and we need to have more of them in this world!
I love a middle eight – I feel like they’re highly underrated and we need to have more of them in this world!
I completely agree. And you saying that you had to put those words in goes back to finding the perfectly unique words to describe such specifics situation.
Maisie Peters: Yeah, so when you find it you have to do it even if you are shoe horning.
Right exactly. So, if we’re talking middle eights’ I think we have to talk “You to You.”
Maisie Peters: Yes (with a laugh). Honestly, that just fully happened when writing it. We didn’t have a chorus for ages, we just couldn’t figure it out, and then I just had a keyboard and just kinda sang “I hope she does a you to you to you to you” and everyone was like “oh yeah, that’s quite good.” We were like that’s obviously it, which is so funny because apart from the middle eight that was almost the last thing we did. The hook and the idea of “you to you” was the last thing to come, which is so funny.
And I bet that’s a fun one to do live?
Maisie Peters: It’s super fun – everyone screams “I hope she fucks you over just for fun.”
How could they not?
Maisie Peters: How could they not – obviously – it’s iconic!
Ok let’s move on to what you’re probably more excited to talk about! I’ve contributed several full streams to It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral.
Maisie Peters: Thank you very much!
Starting with the single you put out a few weeks ago, “This Is on You,” matched with an equally impressive music video. That was such a perfect intro into this collection of songs, and not just because it has the EP title in it. Did you always know it was going to be song one or did that come later on in the process?
Maisie Peters: Yeah so, I think what’s interesting is that with both Ep’s I didn’t set out saying “I’m going to write an EP.” Really, for both I just had a collection of songs that I formed over the course of a year. I wrote “This Is On You” at the very beginning of the year with my friend Francis and loved it immediately. We actually wrote the song, and it didn’t have the “it’s your bed babe, it’s your funeral” bit, again, hilarious. But I just loved it immediately and I was like I know people will like this and I know my fans will love this. I get that way with songs sometimes I’m like “I know they’re going to love this.” And then I did it live for ages because we needed some more upbeat songs, and it just caught fire from there. Because everyone liked it so much live we ended up finishing it and adding in some little bits like the “it’s your bed babe, it’s your funeral.” Honestly, so much of what I do is accidental. When I named Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket I was just like, Can I do this? This is just a good lyric. Fuck it, I’m just gonna do it.
It was a gut feeling that you went with, which makes it so much better.
Maisie Peters: It does, but it makes no sense (we both laugh). I had a deadline to name the EP and I hadn’t named it so me and my mom sat on the kitchen table and I was like what about this, this, this and then I said what about Dressed Too Nice For a Jacket and she was like “Yeah, that’s alright.” And I was like ok fine that’s it!
So, what I was going to say in a long tangent is that I loved “This Is On You” because it felt very confident in itself. Obviously, that’s sort of the point of that song. It’s a confident song sonically and lyrically. I loved the message of it. I feel like especially with women, you’re made to feel like you have a responsibility for people. To look after people and take care of them even if you’re not their friend anymore. Even though you have no intention of being in their life, and they don’t deserve you being in their life. There’s this thing where it’s like ‘oh forgive and forget‘, but sometimes, that’s not the thing. That’s not what you need to do, and sometimes you need to tell yourself, “I really did do everything I could do here and it didn’t work and this person will never appreciate me or appreciate the time or the effort I’ve put into this, and so I’m out now.” Sometimes you just have to call it – and that’s what I love about this song.
“Look at Me Now.” The first 30 seconds of this song will completely gut you. Tell me a bit more about this one.
Maisie Peters: So that’s a funny song, actually, it almost wasn’t on the EP. I wrote it with Rory Adams, he’s this 18-year-old lovely Australian, and then a guy called Steve who’s a very northern man. We wrote it in England, we had never met before and we had one day to write it. I was so ill I almost cancelled the session because I had such a bad cold, but I didn’t. So, we all went in together and Steve was kind of playing around with the chords and we kind of had the idea of “Look at Me Now,” but it was going to be a bad bitch song. And then I was like guys what if we do a sad “Look At Me Now,” like look at how tragic my life is now. Obviously, we all loved that because we’re all sad bitches. So, we did that song, but it had sort of a really euro pop dance feel to it and I didn’t feel the production was right. Then I went in with one of my greatest friends Joe Rubel,
who’s a producer/engineer. He actually engineers a lot of Ed Sheeran’s stuff. He’s really amazing at acoustic beautiful arrangements. So I went in with Joe and I was like “Joe, we need to rework this because the production is not fulfilling me.” I rewrote the second verse, that’s when all the stuff about the blender and coldharbour lane came in. We redid it in one day, reproduced it all and then it was finished, but I still was usure about it. I have such an issue with this I’ve done it with so many of my songs, like “Worst of You” and then this one I was just like “nah, it’s not good enough I don’t want it on the EP.” I had long arguments with many a people and they felt it was good enough, so it ended up being on the EP. A lot of people like it, I really like it too, and it’s actually now one of my favorites to do live – so all’s well that ends well.
Tell me about your production process. The bones of your songs are so good, but from a production standpoint, I feel like each song is so perfectly crafted for its mood. How do you arrive at some of these decisions and directions to take these raw singer/songwriter songs from just that to what they become? April showers for example is so unique.
Maisie Peters: What I really first want to shout from the rooftops is that I’m not a producer. I don’t ever, ever touch a computer. I do agree with what you’re saying though. I do have a heavy hand in each song, but I never touch the computer. I think it’s such a testament to everybody I work with. I’ve accidently fallen into places with people that just really understand what I’m trying to do and how I’m trying to do it. That’s what I love about this EP. It felt like the older sister from my last one – it really moved forward production wise, sonically in terms of ethos almost.
“April Showers,” that was all my friend Ben who I wrote it with – that was really all him. We’d actually been listening to another song by a friend of mine called Alexander23. I love his vocal production and I love how he uses his vocals, so we sort of were inspired by that – shout-out to Alexander23, he’s amazing – but yes, Ben did fully did the beat and then we were just doing the melodies and the lyrics on guitar, which was so interesting because it was such a juxtaposition.
It really just comes out of working with such amazing people who really understand what I love and what will work and how to best convey what I’m trying to say without diluting it or getting it lost.
You’ve had an incredible year, from releasing Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket, to It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral. Did you have a moment where you were like, wow this is it I’ve made it?
Maisie Peters: I’m a pop star. I am the people’s queen. (she says sarcastically even though there is no need for sarcasm). It’s actually funny, people ask me that and I think it’s especially a job where it’s so easy to just keep going. You put one foot in front of the other all the time. Release a song, get the next one ready, release another song, go on tour, play a show, go to sleep, and play another show. It’s so much that I think – and not necessarily in a bad way – but thing’s just kind of pass you by. I’m always focused on whats next, how can I improve and how can I do better. So the answer is no, but also all the time, every moment ever. I did a very random French TV thing which is a whole other story, but I remember I was in the lift with my tour manager, my manager, and my international friend from my label and I was like “Guys can you believe we’re all in France together, for me?” I was like I single handedly have brought you to France – that was quite random. But it’s just things like that – all the time and not at all at the same time.
That’s a great answer.
We finish the conversation with a few pleasantries, and Peters assures us that she enjoyed our niche questions. I ask if another US leg is on the books – she’s focused on this one for now, but there is hope for the future. Maisie Peters is not one to sleep on: See this Atwood artist to watch on tour and stream It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral!
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