In the space of one week, British indie-pop darling Maisie Peters has called me “feral,” “bestie,” “rogue” and “iconic” — words all central to her online lexicon.
The “rogue” descriptor is a valid one. I took an unconventional approach to contacting her for this article and got lucky: I made a TikTok asking the internet at large for her publicist’s information and the video went viral enough for her (and several thousand other people) to see it.
I was elated to have reached her: Peters’ star is on the rise, particularly in the week following the release of her new hit single, “Cate’s Brother.”
The song is a fictionalized telling of an inside joke gone further than expected: Peters is friends with Canadian musician Cate Canning, whose brother visited the U.K. from Abbotsford, BC. The song details an imaginary romance between Peters and Cate’s brother on a track reminiscent of Avril Lavigne’s yearning, boisterous “Sk8er Boi.” Peters’ single concludes with a happy ending in which Peters meets his mother in Vancouver.
Cate’s brother, as Peters described him in our interview, is a “Canadian king.”
Canning agreed, calling him “the most Canadian man you’ve ever seen. He’s a rock-climbing, flannel-wearing dude and very wholesome.”
Peters, 21, has a particular fondness for Canada — her gig in Toronto on March 5 was one of her favourite stops on her most recent tour.
“I love Canada. I’ve been to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The Toronto show was a highlight for me,” said Peters. She’s also fond of Canadian music legends Carly Rae Jepsen, Alanis Morissette and Drake.
Listen to my new song “Cate’s Brother”: https://maisiepeters.lnk.to/cates-brother
“There’s an instant connection for me with Canadians. Maybe it’s a Commonwealth thing? Yeah, Commonwealth girlies!” she laughed.
Peters’ online persona is nearly as magnetic as her musical hooks. Her candour on Twitter makes her relationship with fans feel intimate and authentic, while her cutting, dry sense of humour makes her an approachable figure on TikTok and Instagram.
A tweet on May 6, the day “Cate’s Brother” became available worldwide, declared the song Canada’s new national anthem, no small assertion. But Peters was ready to back it up.
“How many songs of the summer reference Canada?” Peters asked. “Not once, but twice! It’s only a three-minute song. That’s a Canada every minute and a half. That’s so many Canadas. Of course it should be the new anthem.”
“I think ‘Cate’s Brother’ should be the new national anthem because it’s iconic,” she said. “Why not have a British person sing our Canadian anthem? It’s about someone who’s so Canadian.”
Beyond “Cate’s Brother,” the precocious Peters has spent the first few years of her career trying things out: her discography is a mosaic of genres and projects.
After a string of EPs released since 2017, last May Peters composed and performed the soundtrack for Season 2 of Apple TV Plus series “Trying.” That August, Peters’ first full-length album, “You Signed Up for This,” was released under Ed Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records. Sheeran has remained a close mentor and collaborator — Peters is opening for him on the U.K./Ireland leg of his world tour.
Peters’ sound has certainly evolved since 2017. When I first discovered her, many of her songs — the lovelorn “Favourite Ex” and nostalgic “Place We Were Made,” for instance — skewed toward simple acoustic production. Peters’ first track to break one million streams on Spotify was the more R&B-informed “Worst of You” in 2018.
With age has come a brighter pop esthetic and a change in hair colour from brunette to white-blond, but Peter’s commitment to biting, resonant lyrics has remained steadfast as ever.
“The music industry as a whole has changed so much in four years,” said Peters. “I’ve grown as an artist, as a person, as a songwriter. But I’ve still been able to make music that feels like me, and music that’s a reflection of who I am and what I’m into right now. ‘Worst of You’ was definitely the beginning of that journey. I’ll always have a soft spot for that song.”
Peters is also a Swiftie, or Taylor Swift fan. Swift has become known for segmenting her career into “eras,” or esthetics and moods that align with her various albums. It’s become commonplace for Swift fans to “claim” eras as their own.
Peters said she would like to be in her “Reputation” era, which references the dark, brooding, rock ’n’ roll esthetic that accompanied Swift’s sixth album.
“But I’m not,” said Peters. “I think it’s my ‘Speak Now’ era. That feels reflective of right now. That feels relevant.”
“Speak Now” was Swift’s 2010 coming-of-age album, on which Swift contended with coming of age, launching to stardom, and telling stories of love and heartbreak both real and imaginary.
For Peters, relishing the ascent of “Cate’s Brother” on the U.K. charts, the comparison to the earlier years of pop’s top superstar feels apt. One week after release, Peters’ new song was at No. 4 on iTunes (just behind Harry Styles and just ahead of Lady Gaga).
She may be feral, or rogue, or iconic: but whatever you call her, Maisie Peters, performer of what may be Canada’s new pop anthem, is just getting started.
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