- 07 Jul 23
After scoring her first No.1 album with The Good Witch, West Sussex star Maisie Peters discusses Joan Didion, her favourite Irish artists, and being on the roster of Ed Sheeran’s record label.
At 23, Maisie Peters has already packed in more career highlights than most artists could expect to enjoy in a lifetime – from clocking up well over a billion global streams, to garnering a fanbase that includes the likes of Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers, as well as Ed Sheeran, who signed her to his label, Gingerbread Man Records, in 2021.
But even by those starry standards, the past month has been particularly exceptional for the West Sussex singer-songwriter. Less than a week after making her Glastonbury debut on the iconic Pyramid Stage, her eagerly anticipated second album, The Good Witch, debuted at No.1 on the UK charts. It makes Maisie the youngest British female solo artist to top the chart in nine years, as well as marking a career best for the young star – whose debut LP, You Signed Up For This, peaked at No.2 in 2021.
“It’s been a really mental two years,” Maisie reflects. “I feel like I’ve been constantly going. But it’s been the most fun, most surreal, and the most memorable.”
Initially rising to prominence through songs posted online, her razor-sharp songwriting taps effortlessly into the concerns and trends of her generation. But The Good Witch also marks significant growth in her artistry, with Maisie exploring spiky pop-punk touches, and quirky indie elements.
“I learned so much from the first one,” she says of her discography. “Both of these albums have me so heavily within their DNA, so it makes sense that this one would be the older, wiser sister to the first one – because that’s what I am, to the past me!”
She describes the titular 'Good Witch’ as “somewhat of a persona”, through which she delves into the highs and the lows of her own experiences of young adulthood.
“I always say that, with songwriting, there’s power – and with power comes great responsibility,” she smiles. “I try to use my power for good, especially as I get older. It’s up to me to tell the story however I see fit, and to use the truth however I see fit, which is important. I’ve earned the right. But also, to tell the story responsibly.”
Clearly, Maisie is a storyteller first and foremost. Among the unexpected influences that have shaped The Good Witch are the writings of Joan Didion.
“I only read her work last year, post-lockdown, after she died,” she reveals. “I very much connected with her and the way she wrote, and her tone and style.
“I’ve always read a lot,” she continues. “You can’t help but absorb everything you read, and it’s sort of regurgitated – even subconsciously – in what I write.”
When it comes to her own writing, the ‘voice of a generation’ label has often been applied by fans and commentators alike – with lyrics rooted in the sort of heightened emotional intelligence that’s become a Gen Z trademark.
“Maybe there’s a greater desire to understand ourselves, this generation,” she muses. "But maybe we’ve also just been given the tools to do that. I don’t write for anyone other than myself, really, and my fans, but if I can speak for other people too, then that’s really cool.”
She looks up to American rising star Noah Kahan for his own unique approach to songwriting, as well as the era-defining work of artists like Lorde.
“I listened to Melodrama a lot when I was making this album,” Maisie recalls. “Not so much for the sonics, just the cultural importance of what it meant to me and my friends at the time. I wanted my second record to feel like that for somebody else.”
She also has a few Irish artists on her radar – including her fellow Gingerbread Man Records labelmate Foy Vance.
“I love his music!” she enthuses. “He and Ed have a song called ‘Guiding Light’ which I love. It’s beautiful.
“And then, obviously, there’s the King of Ireland, Niall Horan!” she laughs. “Literal prince regent! I’m a big fan. I love his work.”
Of course, being signed to a label created by the most successful singer-songwriter in the world – and having him “as someone you can call” – is also “super cool,” to put it mildly.
“Ed is wonderful,” she tells me. “He’s a real artist’s artist. He’s super generous, super kind, and knowledgeable. He’s lived everything, and done everything. I’ve already grown so much – and I feel very supported, and inspired, by Ed and by the people around me.”
The Good Witch is out now. Maisie Peters plays the 3Olympia Theatre, Dublin (October 25 & 26).