Credit: Alex DiMarco
Peyton Shay is an 18-year-old artist from Los Angeles, CA who is inspired by 2000’s era pop nostalgia and modern rock. Her confident and unique records reflect the journey of young adulthood. As life comes with uncontrollable hardships, Shay has always used music and songwriting to connect with others and share her journey. Leaving no time to spare from the release of her first EP in 2021, Shay is set to drop a plethora of songs this year, with live shows already booked. We were lucky enough to chat with this busy artist about life during the pandemic, her inspirations, and her future plans.
Hi Peyton! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. For those who may not know who you are, give us a little background on yourself and why you got into music?
My name is Peyton Shay, I am 18 years old and I’m from Los Angeles born and raised, but I actually grew up in a small town within LA – maybe like 30 minutes from LA, and that small town feel just led me to so much boredom – even though LA was like at my fingertips, I was young and couldn’t just venture into LA. So that kind of boredom and everything led me into discovering new music, and it was actually through musical theater, a local junior theater program. I remember I was always given the smallest roles. It was so funny, and I was like what can I do to get a bigger role next time. So then I met with a vocal coach and everything and that’s how I got into music; was like 9 year old me wanting to do musical theater.
From there I went and recorded my first song at 12 years old. When I wrote it I had no clue how to use a piano or even the structure of a song, I was just like I have no clue but I’m going to write five pages and this is going to be my song.
Could you walk us through your creative process? Do your lyrics come first, or are you first inspired by a melody or specific beat?
For me, concept comes first and then I kind of like move all around. I’m a very visual person such as like watching a film and being inspired or flipping through a magazine and seeing something that I don’t know what it means right now, but I’m going to cut this photo out and somehow its going to loop into what I’m trying to say.
So yeah I come in with like concept, then we flush out like bare track production and then I go into melodies. Then from melodies I go into like specific lyrics.
Your newest single “True Love Never Dies” was released April 29th and it is killer! Could you tell us more about how the track came together?
Normally my creative process is I love going into the studio with ideas, because I feel like I’m just such a Type A personality where I have to have like everything in line before I do anything.
With this song, it was weird because I feel like I didn’t really have that. I knew I wanted to create a cinematic song and it was because I had just watched a movie and I wanted to create a track that embodies a movie and that feeling – so I said to my producer lets create a cinematic track. So that was where that idea came from production wise. And then lyrical wise, I was going through a period where I almost lost somebody very close to me and it kind of made me realize just how fragile life is, and I felt like I was always kind of chasing after life and was always in this never-ending marathon. I needed to start living in the present moment and I needed to start appreciating things that are actually happening right now instead of being caught up in this fast-paced world. And so one of the greatest things about life is love – whether it be in a relationship or friendship, so “True Love Never Dies” is basically if somebody isn’t here physically, their presence and all of that never really leaves you; so you still always have that feeling with you, and that is what the song encompasses.
I really love that, especially in this day and age we forget to just live in the moment and cherish what we have and the people around us. I also really love that you were inspired by cinema, because I’m a huge film fan so I think its really cool you based it on that – trying to create that feeling.
Yeah there is just something about – and I’ve always felt like this since I was a little kid – that going into a movie theater the feeling you get after is so indescribable. I don’t know what it is, but the music picked just brings out this crazy feeling and I was like somehow I want to capture that.
Do you have a favorite song you’ve written?
Its actually “True Love Never Dies.” There is something so special about this song and I love it so much. Obviously, I like all of my songs that I write and release, but something about this one is just very different for me personally.
I also have another song releasing in June called “Badder Than The Bad Boys,” and those two songs are like they just hit something different with me. I think a big part of it is because “True Love Never Dies” is very big – it soars with the melody and chorus and all of that. And I think also part of it is like how closely the lyrics relate to me, so those are my two favorites.
Lets throw it back to before the pandemic, when your single “Waiting” hit #18 on the US Billboards and #7 on the UK charts and you were inspired to embark on an international tour.
What made you decide to go on this tour, and what was your favorite aspect of touring?
When I decided to go on this tour I was so young, I was 15 and I was in public school and I remember going to the principal with my mom and being like “hey I know this sounds crazy, but I need to take 3 weeks off. I will do my work while I’m traveling” and they were like what are you talking about. But eventually I got them to say yes, and so I think that whole experience of doing something out of the ordinary so young – it kind of gives you a different value on life and on careers and all of this stuff.
Before this tour I had never really performed live. So a week before getting on the plane, I showed up to an Italian restaurant and I just got up there and sang some song, and I was like I feel kind of bad – these people are trying to eat their pasta and I walk in and I’m like let me sing for you.
But I would say my favorite part of touring was meeting new people and learning so much. And also you just get so comfortable being on stage and all that, which is something that previous to me going over to the UK I didn’t have. I just had my musical theater days which did help, but I was very young doing musical theater as well. So yeah just like the whole environment of touring, what you learn from touring, and who you meet is something that is so irreplaceable .
I think that’s super cool and inspirational to just kind of go after your dreams, no matter how young or how old you are.
Yeah and that’s part of what I went over to the UK to do. I was singing my songs and everything but I also talked a little bit about just kind of being young – a lot of people can look at you and be like oh you know this is where you need to go, this is your path. So I talked a lot about like breaking out of those boxes and really going after what your passion is and what you love despite being young, because even though you’re young, you still have a lot of value.
How did you use your time during lockdown – did you take up any new hobbies?
So for me personally, I graduated high school a year ago because I switched to online school about when I was a sophomore in high school, just because it was getting crazy trying to find a public school to work with my schedule. And the pandemic obviously halted live performances. I did my last performance on February 15th right before everything shut down, so in that aspect it halted that, but in my day-to-day regular life because I was so used to kind of being independent in certain aspects; that kind of didn’t change as far as school and stuff like that.
But I used that time a lot to connect with people that support me and people on the internet because everyone was on their phones and that’s kind of all you could do. I recorded a lot from my bedroom. I had remote sessions, I talked to people all day every day, did live steams – I just kind of figured it out and was like I’m just going to make the best of it.
What music have you been listening to lately? Who are your favorite artists?
Oh my gosh I am a big rock person, and I love Pop rock as well, but my playlists are all over the place – filled with Avril Lavigne, Paramore, Blondie, and Green Day. I’m always that one person who can switch from all these different artists and its never like consecutive or anything, just like hey this song is cool.
What are your plans for the rest of 2022 – will there be new music, live shows, or a U.S. tour?
Yes so right now I just released “True Love Never Dies” and I’m in rehearsals getting ready for Teentopia which is a music festival in Norco, California on June 25th and I am very, very excited for that. Prior to Teentopia I have a song “Badder Than The Bad Boys” releasing, and fingers crossed I would love, love, love to go on tour very soon. So yeah, just like a lot of live shows coming up, a lot of music, and getting back into the swing of things in the post-covid world.
Check out Peyton’s official video for “True Love Never Dies” below.