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INTERVIEW: Maisie Peters on her debut album ‘You Signed Up For This’

At just 21 years old, Maisie Peters is one of pop’s most exciting rising stars. Known for her delicately blissful vocals, relatable and down-to-earth lyrics, and her self-proclaimed ‘feral girl summer’ personality, Maisie is a force to be reckoned with and has come a long way since releasing her debut single in 2017.

Over the past few years, the singer-songwriter has captured the hearts of music lovers across the world and signed to Atlantic Records in 2018. Her debut EPs Dressed Too Nice for a Jacket and It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral initially highlighted her unique storytelling ability whilst her music has soundtracked countless moments on TV shows and movies including Love Island and Birds of Prey.

Earlier this year, Maisie released an original soundtrack album for season two of the Apple TV+ original series Trying. However, alongside this incredible feat, she has also been busy carving out her debut album You Signed Up For This, which is finally unveiled to the world today.

Released through Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records, You Signed Up For This is a glorious 14-track album which captures the trials and tribulations of a young woman navigating her way through life. These include falling in and out of love, fantasy revenge, the sad reality that some people never face the consequences of their actions, and special moments with her twin sister Ellen.

The record explores Maisie’s teenage experiences all the way to her present young adult self and is a real coming of age affair. Delivered with a wide range of heartfelt emotions and a large sprinkle of her signature sass, You Signed Up For This is a stunning debut which really puts Maisie on the map as an artist. If she’s not already one of your favourites, then she sure will be after you listen to the album.

We caught up with Maisie Peters to talk about You Signed Up For This, her creative visuals, soundtracking TV moments, the Maisie Peters Book Club and more!

maisie peters

Your album is finally here! It’s been a long time coming so how are you feeling about finally unveiling it to the world?

It’s very surreal! I think once you’ve worked on something for so long and it’s been just mine for so long, it’s very bizarre that it’s now out in the world and everyone else can just search it up on Spotify and listen to it whenever they want. I think it’s going to take a while [once the album’s out] for it to settle in and for me to settle into it and then I’ll have to reflect upon the whole crazy journey!

The album is called You Signed Up For This, so can you tell me what your listeners are going to be signing up for when they listen to the album for the first time?

Really excellent music?! I think that they’re signing up for a whole host of different emotions, different types of song, different stories…I think they’re signing up for the expected and the unexpected which is in fact everything ever so that was clear of me!

A lot of the album was written fairly recently but you’ve also got some tracks such as ‘John Hughes Movie’ which was written when you were back when you were 17. What was it like to revisit some of those older tracks in order to get them ready for the album?

It was cool, it was definitely an experience. ‘John Hughes Movie’ we revisited, even songs like ‘Hollow’ and ‘Boy’ which were written early 2020 and then we came back to them over a year later. It’s interesting because you have the perspective of a year and then you’re able to sort of tweak and make changes, add lyrics and change production to make it work for you nowadays as opposed to when you wrote it all that time ago. I always love it cause it’s like seeing a snapshot of how you’re feeling, what type of music you loved or what you’re into at the time. It’s a really amazing three minute snapshot of that.

Was it a difficult decision choosing what songs made the final cut?

Definitely! I wrote a lot for this album and there are so many things that I loved that didn’t quite make it. I mean I’m also pretty savage so when something was off, it was off. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the songs come back for album two or whether this era will be bookmarked and I won’t return to it. I don’t know yet, to be honest I’ve not thought about it as much as I will do but I think the songs that stand the test of time can be for whenever so I’m hopeful that some of them will have another life somewhere.

I also noticed that the album’s actually split into side A and side B, is there a particular reason for that or is it just something that you wanted to do with the album?

I guess the boring answer is that it’s 14 songs, longer than maybe the average debut so there was a logic in splitting it into two but also I think what’s nice, and I’ve actually only come to realise it recently from doing interviews and talking about it and unpacking it, is that it does feel like the album’s two sides. I think it starts off really explosively as it’s really young, it feels very youthful and there’s a lot of emotional highs and lows. It feels very naive and very bolshy and energetic, then you get the second half which feels a little bit more grounded and a little bit more emotionally nuanced maybe. It does kind of feel like a coming of age, like there’s a sense of growth throughout it so I like that it’s kind of divided into two like that.

Speaking about some of the tracks in particular, ‘Brooklyn’ sounds like a really fun one. I know that it’s based on a trip that you took with your twin, can you tell us a bit more about how that one came about?

So that’s a song that I wrote with my friend Frances in Suffolk. I went to Suffolk for a month to work on the album last summer and I wrote Brooklyn about a trip that I took with my twin sister Ellen. We went to New York together for a few days in 2019 on holiday, it was the first holiday without my parents and the song is really just an exact chronology of what happened on that trip. I say “sushi and a fake ID, you’re Katie from Michigan” and that’s because we used fake IDs and hers said Katie from Michigan so I just sort of stole it and put it in a song! The whole song is basically just a really sweet retelling of that trip.

Then there’s ‘Hollow’ and what I’ve heard is one of your favourite lyrics from the album: “you’re the one that got away, and you got away with a lot”. It sounds like it’s going to really get us all in our feels – was that a really emotional one to write?

Yeah it’s probably one of the saddest moments on the album. It feels very unapologetically sad and I wrote it with Ed Sheeran, Joe Rubel and Johnny McDaid. It was the first song that myself and Ed ever wrote together and it’s a softer moment on the album – it feels like it harks back to my roots and what I started out doing. I think that’s similar for Ed too actually so yeah, that song it’s very special to us.

The album also closes with ‘Tough Act’, why was that the kind of perfect track to bring everything to a close?

I think because it’s a ballad, it’s really the only proper ballad of the album and I always liked it ending on a note that may be more reflective than other songs. It’s conclusive – it looks back on a relationship with a magnifying glass in a slightly more mature way maybe than other songs on this album. I also like the idea of an album ending with the lyric “you’re one tough act to follow”.

Maisie Peters and Ed Sheeran

You Signed Up For This is being released via Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records label and he’s co-written some of the album tracks and been a mentor to you. What’s it been like working with him over the past year or so?

He’s been amazing! It obviously goes without saying that Ed is so talented but he’s also so generous and sweet and funny and down to earth and is really just like a perfect model of, I think, how to be the most successful artist. Yeah, it’s been amazing to be around him and get to ask about his experiences and I think that I’m very lucky to have somebody like that as a mentor figure.

Like you said, he’s got such a wealth of knowledge and experience in the music industry so has he given you any good pieces of advice about how to handle things?

Definitely! We’ve had a lot of conversations like that and he has been through a lot so he always has wise things to say.

You are an incredible lyricist – I think you’ve just got such an amazing talent when it comes to perfectly capturing these relatable situations into song but something else that I really like about what you’ve been doing is extending your creativity to co-writing some of the concepts for your music videos. Is it really important to you to have just as much creative control outside of the realms of songwriting?

With this album I’ve been really keen on making a cohesive universe and making videos that felt as much as my personality as possible and I think we really achieved that with ‘John Hughes Movie’ and ‘Psycho’. They’re really warm and cinematic and beautiful but they also have dark, sort of tongue-in-cheek menacing undertones which also felt very relevant to me as a person so it’s been really cool getting to create those concepts with director Louis Bhosa. He’s amazing and getting to work on it with him has been a really interesting process, I’ve really enjoyed it. 

Do you have any more plans for any music videos for some of the other songs on the album?

I mean I definitely do but I can’t be revealing those to you know so you’ll have to wait and see!

You’ve been writing music since you were 12 and you’ve gone from channelling sad girl summer to feral girl summer with ‘Psycho’ which personally is a favourite of mine. How would you say that your writing has developed over the years? 

I think obviously you get better over time because, like anything, if you do it enough then you get quicker and faster and better at knowing the best ways that work for you. I would say that the core of what I do is still the same with storytelling and painting a really vivid picture in as little time as possible.

As well as working on your debut album, which obviously takes time to perfect as it’s something that’s so special to you, but you also recently wrote and curated the soundtrack for season two of Trying which in itself is just an incredible achievement. What was it like to create that soundtrack in comparison to putting together your own album?

It was amazing! I mean I did both at the same time which is very chaotic but it was really a wonderful time. I love that TV show and everyone involved in the TV show, the director, the music supervisor, everyone was just so wonderful and so creative. I just love that soundtrack and I love that music. I think it was a really happy place for me writing the soundtrack. Musically I think a lot of that soundtrack is the core of what I do and it came very naturally to me, it was a very easy process. The songs were written for the soundtrack and written off of scripts but there’s also a lot of me in those songs and a lot of my life, my feelings and my tone of voice is really across all of them. 

With the soundtrack you also got to work with the likes of James Bay and Griff. What were they like to work with and in the future who is at the top of your list of who you would like to collaborate with?

They were both amazing! I love James, Griff and Bear’s Den. I love all of their music and I’m a big huge fan of theirs, especially James. We did ‘Funeral’ together and we got to perform it on The Late Late Show with James Corden. It’s really amazing getting to work with sort of your heroes and inspirations, then getting to write with them and perform with them?  I was very lucky, they’re all the best and so talented. It was really cool getting to share songs with them and sort of combine our worlds. In terms of who I’d like to work with next,  I mean there are so many people that I love. I’m a really big Bleachers fan, Jack Antonoff’s band. I really love the music they make as part of that project so maybe I’d love to do something with those guys.  

The Trying soundtrack was for a specific TV show but your own music has actually been used to soundtrack real life situations recently. It’s been played a lot on Love Island, not just this series but past series as well. Does it still feel kind of surreal to hear your music being played on TV?

Yeah for sure, I think it always really jolts you out of the world you’re in because you’re suddenly like “Oh my God, that is me”. I’m a big fan of Love Island and I’ve been watching it along with everybody else and then to suddenly be like “Oh my God, that is in fact myself” is just bizarre.

Talking about being a fan of something, it’s no big secret that Taylor Swift is a fan of yours and she’s championed you and a lot of other rising female artists on social media. I kind of wanted to turn the tables a little bit and ask you about who some of your favourite rising artists at the moment are?

That’s a good question! I have two friends, one of which is called Jensen McRae, she’s an American singer songwriter based out of California and she’s incredible. I think she’s the best songwriter around right now out of everybody so I’m a huge fan. I then have another friend who’s Australian called Gretta Ray and she is releasing an album too on the same day I’m releasing mine. She makes an amazing sort of eloquent folk pop and it’s really so good.

For the past 18 months, the pandemic has pretty much put a stop to everything but you recently got to perform your first live show of this era at Latitude Festival. What was it like getting to perform in front of a crowd again? 

It was amazing, it was so special. It felt like really the point of sort of everything you do is to perform shows and get to perform to crowds like that so it was just really magical for me and all my band. I’m definitely a live act, I make songs to be played and it was amazing to get to do that finally after so long.

You’ve also just announced a string of record shop and intimate shows to support the album. What can your fans expect from these shows?

I think we’ll definitely be having a lot of fun with them. We’ll be doing new songs from the album, some old songs with cool arrangements. I want to make it as interactive as possible, I really would love to see everybody and say thank you so we’re gonna try and do tonnes of fun stuff!

Music aside, during lockdown you also started your own book club – what was the inspiration behind that?

It was actually an idea from a fan. I was reading a lot and they said it would be cool if I started a book club so I did. It’s been really fun – it’s definitely a different experience and being the interviewer as opposed to the interviewee is very difficult and very hard, I have a lot of respect for you guys! It’s a totally different thing and it’s been going for about a year and a half now which is crazy. 

I’ve loved watching some of the interviews you’ve done –  who’s been your favourite author to interview?

That’s a good question, I mean it’s always the books that you love the most and some of the funnest interviews because you get to go behind the scenes. I actually really enjoyed talking to Sophia Thaker. She’s a poet and I’ve become super good friends with her. She wrote Somebody Give This Heart a Pen which is beautiful. There’s also Julia Samuel who is a psychotherapist and she wrote this book called This Too Shall Pass and she had such interesting opinions on everything.

I’ve definitely put some of the books that you recommended into my to-be-read pile which seems to be growing by the minute but it’s always good to have new recommendations of things to read.

 I’m glad! I mean my to-read pile is also very very large so I can relate haha. 

To finish off our chat, I thought we could play a little game of sorts, it’s a quick fire question round but the questions are all based on some of your song titles, whether that be from the album or some of your previous work!

‘You Signed Up For This’ – what was the last thing that you signed up for?

I signed up for the New York Times a while back because I thought I was like a hot girl thing to do so I’m subscribed to Times haha.

‘Villain’ –  who is your favourite TV or film villain?

I mean right now, Toby from Love Island, I think he’s iconic! I think the way that he’s actually not been able to decide his favourite out of so many women is really brilliant so yeah he’s my favourite villain for sure.

‘Birthday’ – what’s your favourite birthday memory to date?

My birthday this year was really wonderful as it was my 21st.I went out with my housemates and we went to a bar together which was the first time we’ve done that actually as we’ve been living together all of lockdown and not actually been able to go out until May so that was really fun.

‘Take Care of Yourself’ – what does your self care routine consist of?

I guess maybe ordering some really nice food and just spending time in my home and chilling.

‘Brooklyn’ –  once we are able to travel freely again, where is at the top of your travel bucket list?

I mean maybe New York again, that seems like a good answer! 

‘Daydreams’ –  what is your ultimate dream as an artist?

I would really love to play Brighton Dome which is sort of the venue I grew up going to.

I don’t think it will be long before you’re doing that for sure!  Thank you so much for your time and good luck with the album release!  

You Signed Up For This is available to download and stream now. Keep your eyes peeled for our review coming later today.

Let us know your thoughts on Maisie Peters and her debut album on Twitter @CelebMix

Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina