When Maisie Peters first uploaded a YouTube video six years ago from her home in England, she never imagined that she’d one day be co-writing with Ed Sheeran and preparing for her very own U.S. tour. Things have moved quickly for Peters, yet while she may be performing songs to a bigger audience, her sound and vulnerable lyrics are still reminiscent of a personal diary entry.
Peters lives her life as an open-book, finding comfort in sharing the songs of her life with fans. She’s active on Twitter, making jokes with her fans and giving a deeper insight into her life. Never one to shy away from the ups and downs of life, Peters music gets hyper-specific about her life and relationships while still being widely relatable. She loves when fans share that her music resonates with them, because she feels the same about her favorite artists, like Taylor Swift (who is also a “huge fan” of Peters).
Ahead of her third album, You Signed Up For This, Peters sat down with fellow Swiftie and RELEVANT associate editor Emily Brown to discuss being vulnerable in music, the journey of growing up and discovering your sound, and, of course, Taylor Swift.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You started out on YouTube, and now you are writing songs with Ed Sheeran. How do you feel about that? How has the last few years of your life really been?
Maisie Peters: Very crazy, kind of surreal. It’s weird, it’s feels, when you say it like that, it sounds very dramatic, but it actually hasn’t felt dramatic. It’s felt very… It’s been a journey. And you incrementally achieve more each year, and then you also take some steps back and take some steps forward. And it’s been a lot of growing up, and finding my people, and meeting some of my best friends. And a lot of life has been lived in the past three, four, five years.
How do you feel like you’ve changed the most as an artist within the last few years?
I don’t know. In many ways, I haven’t. I still feel like the same 17 year old girl, but I guess I’m somewhat more confident in what I do. And I know for better and for worse, I know more about the ins and outs of the business, and the industry, and there’s good and bad to that, but I felt I’m a bit steadier footed within it, maybe.
One of my favorite things about your music is just how much you are in it. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading a little bit of a journal entry, because they’re so personal, but I love that. But I’m always curious, do you ever feel pressure to be vulnerable with your music?
No, I don’t think I feel pressure. The music that I make and the lyrics that I write are just natural and what comes out of me. And sometimes they’re very personal and sometimes they’re not. And I’m always very assertive that I don’t really talk about the context of the songs outside of the songs. I’m not going to sit here and tell you, “This was about this moment in my life with this person and this happened” because I feel like that’s private, but the songs are for everyone. So, I like to think I keep it a bit balanced.
Is it ever surprising when you’ve written something that’s really personal and then someone comes up to you and says, “That resonated with me so deeply.” How do you feel when people say that?
I love it. There’s alway, people who comment on my songs that I post, like on my TikToks, and they’re like, “Wow, I’ve really never had an original thought” which I think is so funny. And this idea that none of us have ever done any original, we’re all just… I love that. I post songs on TikTok or songs of my own I release and they’re so specific, and I’m like, “Wow, that’s so me.” And then someone is like, “This is me.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah, no, you’re right. It’s all us.” There’s a really nice, collective de-specialing of the fact that we’re all actually just the same and go through the same things, and I actually love that. I think it’s so cool.
Yeah. I think that is such an interesting concept, because sometimes it feels like we go through something and it’s like, “No one else in the world can relate to this but me.” And then you hear a song and you’re like, “Oh, I’m not alone.” I love that feeling. There’s a lot of artists that I really like, that I feel like I’m in on a secret with them, because they’re just so personal. I know you’re a really big Taylor Swift fan and I am, too — speaking of, how excited are you for her re-releases to come out?
I actually don’t think about it that often, because I think that if I do, I’ll think about it all day. I need to not get distracted from my own life. But I don’t think I’m in any way emotionally ready for the new tracks. No. No, thank you. No, thank you.
I can’t talk about it. I can’t talk about it.
There was this really good TikTok going round, I don’t know if you saw it, where it’s this girl being like, “And it turns out that I will be relating to ‘Red’ by Taylor Swift after all.” And it’s just so good. I felt that deeply in my soul.
Yeah, I see all the Taylor Swift TikToks, the conspiracy theories. I think I believe every single one of them.
Me too. I’ll get into such rabbit holes and just be like, “Yes, it’s all true.”
One of these days the theories are going to be true, hopefully. Well, I assume Taylor is definitely a musical inspiration for you. But who are some of your other musical inspirations?
I have a lot. Lily Allen, Sara Bareilles, First Aid Kit, Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves. And I think that all of them, for different reasons, are really wonderful examples of women who have continually made music that’s outdone themselves and evolved, and just really still you can tell they are also passionate about what they make, which I think is really cool.
I wanted to ask about one of your songs in particular, “Psycho,” which might be one of my favorite ones. You talk about this idea that I think is really interesting, and it’s that sometimes people put this label on us that we know isn’t true, but it still hurts to feel that way. And I think that’s something that a lot of people can relate to, which is why it is such a popular song. So, I’m curious how do you handle critiques people make of you that aren’t true?
It’s interesting. I guess I have to know this, because I’m someone who puts their work out into the world, and has a platform, that there are absolutely people that say things about me all the time, either about my music, or about myself, or they think they know me, or they do know me, because I know through doing this job you meet a lot of people, and even if you meet them once, they’re going to have an impression of you forever. So, I guess you just can’t dwell too much on that.
And yeah, releasing songs, it’s so interesting, and it’s so funny, because I do write about people that I know, and also don’t, a lot of my songs aren’t about people that I know, but a lot of them are, and it’s so amusing to me, it’s such a songwriter’s world, but I’m always very cautious, I never want to burn any bridges. And it’s weird being able to be the narrator of your own life, because there’s always more than just you in it, so you’re sort of narrating for the both of you, but I’ve always been very cautious of trying not to release songs too fresh after something has happened, or waiting a bit so that person doesn’t feel this way or that way. And that’s really weird, because you’re not trying to not rewrite what happened, but you obviously have rewritten what happened, because that’s your job. So, it’s a weird thing to balance.
Whenever you write a song like that, maybe about a certain person or something specific that happened, do you play the song to them first or do you let them know in some way?
No. I don’t know, if it was a nice one then, yeah, I’ve done that before. Yeah, I’ve definitely sent people songs, if it was nice and about them. But normally I do that knowing… If I’ve done that in the past, I think it’s always been me knowing that I wanted to write that person a song, and then writing it, and then sending it. So I’m not cold doing it. But no, if it’s not a song that I want them to hear, then I’m probably not going to send it to them first.
Do you try to give a hint that you’re writing a song about them or do you just let them discover it?
They can discover it. They’ll know. If they know, they know.
I feel like this last album was a lot about relationships, but there’s so much more that goes on when you’re 21. Do you ever get inspired by any other thing going on in life? What’s something that you’re going through right now?
Definitely. I think everything influences each other, and definitely, relationships are sort of fun to write about it, and the music that I love talks about that often. But I’ve definitely got songs about other things. And I don’t know, I wrote a song the other day about how I am too emotionally uptight to smoke weed, because last time I did I was paranoid and thought I was possessed. And that was a lyric in the song and I was talking about that. So, I think there’s many different songs. I write about moving houses a lot, because I feel like all I do is move houses. So, that’s always a feature. And I’ve definitely written a song, I wrote a song about that over summer, about being so stubborn that I moved into a house with mice in it, because I was like, “No, I’ve decided I’m going to move here, so I am.” So, a lot of different hilarious things.