interviews

Rising Star: LiveSource's Debbie Gayle & Nick Mathius

The biz's brightest new talents tell their stories. This week it's the turn of LiveSource directors Debbie Gayle & Nick Mathius. How did you get your start in music? Debbie Gayle: “Both of us have created our own opportunities from ...

Hitmakers: The songwriting secrets behind Answerphone

Canadian production duo Banx & Ranx made a major splash with their Ella Eyre collaboration Answerphone ft. Yxng Bane. Here, Zacharie “Soké” Raymond and Yannick “KNY Factory” Rastogi wind back the clock... Zacharie Raymond: Our management organised a session for us with Ella Eyre, Shakka and Jake [Jacob Manson] from Blonde, and it was a match made in heaven. We came in, cracked some jokes and got into the vibe by listening to Nigerian music. We thought it would be cool to experiment with those vibes, so we started a drum loop and then Jake came in with his guitar. This one riff stood out and we were like, ‘Yep, simple and easy, let’s go with that’. Shakka came up with the chorus first, so we decided to start the song with the chorus, and then the answerphone concept came in. We didn’t quite understand it because we’d never heard the term ‘answerphone’ before, so we were like, ‘Can we go with ‘voicemail’ [instead]?’ But that didn’t sound as good. Yannick Rastogi: The session started at 12pm and by 8pm the song was done. Every time we come to the UK our time is limited and precious because it’s quite costly for us to come over. Most of the time we’re here for two weeks and we just try to make the most out of it. When we go back to Montreal we fix things – we can work on the production, mix and everything like that – but on the day, most of the time, the song is done. For instance, our latest record Traffic Jam [with Kojo Funds] was done that same day. ZR: We had two sessions simultaneously so we were bouncing from room to room. We always work very quickly – when you don’t finish a song the same day, it can be really hard to finish it. What’s funny was that Ella thought she had just done demo vocals and was planning on re-recording a final version that she would be satisfied with. She was like, ‘Guys, this is the demo vocal’ and we were like, ‘Yeah, it sounds great!’ The whole team was happy with the song and that’s when we knew it may have big potential. We can’t imagine it with a different singer. YR: Ella is an amazing performer and her belief in the song was so strong. Her involvement helped break the record because she was promoting it on an arena tour [supporting The Script] even before it was released and people were Shazaming it and vibing to it. I don’t think anyone could have done a better job than Ella. It was an unusual combination – Ella is quite pop and [Yxng] Bane is a more urban act – with us in the middle producing some tropical Afro beats and rhythms. We wanted Bane on it from day one and he brought a chemistry to the record that is quite rare. ZR: We try to stay neutral while we’re making a song. If it feels good we keep working on it, but we don’t overthink it – we don’t decide if it becomes a hit. YR: I wish it were that easy! ZR: Yeah, it’s not that easy, but all the ingredients were there for it to be successful. The combination of Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane was amazing, it was well balanced between pop, urban and Afro and the tempo was a bit faster than usual Afrobeat songs so you could dance to it – and I think people of all ages could relate to the lyrical content. It went straight into the Top 20 on iTunes and kept on building. We performed it on [BBC One’s] Sounds Like Friday Night, which boosted it and our label, Parlophone, really believed in it so they put everything into it. We’re really grateful because our first break was the song Kiss Me by Olly Murs [in 2015], but we hadn’t had huge results with our music since then, so we were getting anxious and nervous about what was going to happen next. Then Answerphone happened and we were like, ‘Oh, thank God!’” Writer’s Notes Publishers Kobalt, Warner Chappell, Sony/ATV Allegro, Sentric Writers Ella McMahon, Guystone Menga, Jacob Manson, Shakka Philip, Yannick Rastogi, Zacharie Raymond Release Date 16.03.18 Record label Parlophone Total UK sales (OCC) 774,330

New music special: Maisie Peters - The Music Week interview

Ask Maisie Peters what it’s like to be a new musician and she’ll shoot you a quizzical look. She gets the idea, but her initial reaction is to wonder how to analyse a feeling that’s become the status quo. How does it feel to write and release songs that thrill an ever-expanding fanbase? For Peters, a more interesting question would be to ask what it might be like not to make music. For the 19-year-old, this has already become a way of life. When she eyes Music Week and says she draws comfort from setting herself targets to write 90 or 100 songs a year, she’s not joking or exaggerating in the slightest. “This is all I’ve ever known, so it weirdly grounds me. It’s everything that I know, writing music and being a new artist,” Peters begins. “Being in the music industry is almost like my safe place! I’m always in writing sessions because I love writing and I want to do it all the time, that’s how you get better. My normal life is going to random people’s studios who I don’t know and writing songs with them. While being 19 is a crazy time, this way of life is where I feel most at home, when I’m writing and doing all these things.” Peters talks fast. Her sentences land rapidly, words tumbling in winding sentences, punctuated alternately by self-deprecating laughs and quick pauses for breath while her brain whirrs, preparing the next one. The singer is consumed with songs and songwriting, she has been this way from a young age, when her mum and dad, a geography teacher and journalist respectively, would play records at home in Steyning, a small village near Brighton. Peters has long-nurtured her Taylor Swift obsession, which was sparked by the video for Love Story, from the 2008 album Fearless. She was particularly enamoured with its video and wanted to have a crack herself. Peters’ first outlet for her writing was YouTube, where she’d upload folky songs with titles like Spring Clean and Toast, which came with a home-recorded video of her burning some wholemeal Hovis. She’d set up in various rooms in the family home, then rope her mum in to press record. If she didn’t like what she’d done, she’d scrap it and start again the next day. She looks back on those days fondly. “I was very purposeful. Some of those videos have stood the test of time, some of the songs are amazing and I’d release them now, some of them have not!” she says. “I like the idea of new artists being able to see videos of me then and now, the idea that they can think, ‘Maisie’s been doing this for a minute and she’s taken time and progressed’.” She signed to Atlantic while studying for her A Levels, and things have been building ever since. With similarities to predecessors such as Lily Allen and Kate Nash, plus contemporaries like Maggie Rogers and Haim, Peters’ songs are relatable and spiky, emotional and funny. Atlantic co-president Briony Turner is understandably excited for the future. This isn’t the first time her label has developed a modern songwriter who started out busking and playing pub gigs. “From the moment we first met Maisie we knew she was a star in waiting,” Turner tells Music Week. “Written on the cusp of her 16th birthday, Place We Were Made blew us away and demonstrated the prowess she has as a songwriter. It was clear she had an immense and unique talent and she’s continued to develop her writing and sound with the release of her two EPs, Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket and It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeral.” Plans for Peters’ debut album are in full swing and Turner believes it will be an important record. “Maisie is a storyteller for her generation,” she says. “She has an innate ability to craft relatable music which is as a soundtrack to the lives of her peers and her fanbase.” With our cover shoot complete, it’s time to sit down with Peters and unpick just what makes her such an exciting prospect, starting with a story about fish… What songs are you working on at the moment? “I write so much that I never see it as working on a specific project. Yesterday I wrote a song about fish, that was good [laughs]. Minnows is the title, I don’t think it’s a No.1 but we’ll see. What would be great is if it was a No.1 total smash, the world could use more fish-based songs. I like to write one or two songs in a session, normally the second one is better. Someone just said the word and I was like, that’s quite a good word and lo and behold we now have a song called Minnows. I find myself writing about so many different things. Recently I did a song with three key changes, meant to be a wedding song for a couple who like The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve also just made some soul-baring ballads and a song about kissing people who live with the person you actually want to kiss.” It sounds like writing comes really naturally to you… “Don’t get me wrong, I spend lots of days tearing my hair out, stuck on a pre-chorus for five hours. It’s mindset more than anything. If you have it in you... I like to work where I can end the year and say, ‘OK, I wrote 90 songs, by the law of averages at least three of them surely should be good’. That’s literally how I comfort myself. Maybe one day I’ll try and write less, when I’m, like, 40 I’ll try and do just a song a month. I’ll see if they’re better.” How are you feeling about your debut? “There’s so much pressure on the debut album. Maggie Rogers did an interview where she was asked about her debut and she was saying she loved it and was really proud of it, but wasn’t stressed about it because she would make another, and one after that… It’s so true. You make so many albums in your life. Your debut is one and it should be a good one, I have many plans for mine, but I try not to think about it too much. The pressure comes from the world, everyone just cares about a first album because it is a big thing. I can get a bit fixated on things sometimes, so I’m trying to teach myself out of the habit of being like, ‘Oh my God, it’s your first album and the singles and da da da…’ I hope it’s good and I honestly think it will be. But also, I’m going to make other albums, I’m going to make 40 albums in my life.” That’s some serious forward planning… “I like to make a lot of music and release it. I’m a big Charli XCX fan. She looks at releasing music in such a cool way. That’s not really where I am right now, but in a few years, I’d love to make an album in a day. I’d love to go on holiday for three days, make an album and just put it out and no one’s allowed to change it.” How has your songwriting evolved since you started? “I knew I would make music but I never imagined I could do this. The last few years when I’ve been doing sessions pretty regularly have taught me so much. It’s such an interesting and bizarre process and so many people just can’t wrap their heads around it, but a lot of who I am today has been formed by it. It teaches you so much about how to work with people, stick up for yourself and compromise.” How are you enjoying the process of developing as a new artist? “Nowadays everyone’s so happy to shortcut things, but there’s pride, love and goodness in the process. If you’re a new artist people are like, ‘Oh they’ve dropped the first single and it was a No.1 in seven countries or it wasn’t, or whatever.’ On my YouTube channel before I was managed or signed I had 30 songs, that’s two albums. Loads of them are still up. I’m not going to take them down because they’re funny and interesting, they show you at the start. Someone tweeted me a video of me performing a year ago and I posted it saying, ‘This was quite bad but look, I’m better now and isn’t that nice?’ That’s the point. You should do 100 gigs and make 200 songs, that’s good. It’s sad if you feel the first thing you do needs to be the best, songs, gigs, photo shoots... everything. It’s a process.” What advice would you give to other new acts? “It’s so important to have people steering you to keep you on course. I had that, a great manager [Bobby Havens] and team from the outset. But it takes a big toll, this takes over your whole life, it’s important to have people you can trust. No one tells you how to behave in an interview, for example, obviously not. You can’t Google it. I like the idea of trying to help people through.” As 2020 begins, have you had time to take stock of how far you’ve come? “I’m constantly thinking about the next thing, but I’ve been trying to do more reflecting. It’s funny, I’m so young, but I’ve been making music and writing music pretty seriously since I was 14. I’m almost six years in. My O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig (in November) felt like the beginning of what I’ve been working towards. Over the past few months, the music I’m making and listening to, just how I’m living and existing as a human being feels like it’s becoming something. The past few months have cemented a lot of my inspirations, what I am, what and who I like and who I choose to be with. What I want is cyrstalising and I can recognise myself in things a lot more. I really like that.” KEY TRACK: This Is On You LABEL: Atlantic TWITTER: @maisiehpeters MANAGEMENT: Stripped Bear SPOTIFY MONTHLY LISTENERS: 4,016,239

The Aftershow: Tom Walker

subscribers only

2020 visionaries: Who's going to break big in the next 12 months?

subscribers only

New music special: Celeste - The Music Week interview

subscribers only

MORE Music Week Features

Show More
Loading
subscribe link free-trial link

follow us...