Recommended Tracks: “No Control,” “Someone,” “Before You Go,” “When We Were Young (Adele cover)”
Artists You May Like: Kadeli, Dylan Rockoff, Hotel Apache
By day, Baton Rouge, LA-based singer-songwriter Peyton McMahon works a by-the-numbers remote sales job. By night, he is a rising star in the indie pop scene who has rubbed elbows with heavy hitters like Kelly Clarkson and Dermot Kennedy. Both Clarkson and Kennedy became familiar with McMahon from his musical content on YouTube and TikTok, inviting him to perform on their stages. His impressive interpretations of songs across genres by both males and females, comedic attempts to “cheat” the algorithm, dog content, and unveiling of original music have helped slowly grow his audience and form the building blocks of a budding career.
His new song “Someone” is out now.
New Orleans Born-and-Raised
The soulfulness of nearby New Orleans is written all over McMahon and his voice. He is a frequent attendee of Mardi Gras and the famed New Orleans Jazz Fest, putting himself smack in the middle of motivational musical environments that include standout performances from Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran. “I think that is something that has always been innate in me,” he said. “I’ve gone to New Orleans a ton since I was kid… and there’s definitely a little bit of that soulfulness and that spark that comes through sometimes.”
Songs like “Tell Me Why” and “No Control,” the latter one of if not the best of his discography, equally represent both the pop and soul he possesses. “Tell Me Why” is reminiscent of post-Idol Daughtry, soaring vocals and all, while “See The Sun” leans more toward accidental theatricality.
“When there’s no… noooooo, control”
“No Control,” from the jump, feels like the perfect bedroom-pop song, with McMahon sitting comfortably in his low chest voice cruising alongside subtle yet commanding indie pop production: “I kinda hate the way you’re wired/ My mind’s always on fire/ I can’t change it… I can’t change it.” With every go-around of the chorus, he builds his vocal intensity until the climax of the tune when he fully commits to the anguish, using a healthy mix to support his bright yet fully supported higher belt: “What do I worry for?/ Why do I have these questions? Nobody’s keeping score, so what’s the point of asking?”
“I actually wrote that song three years ago,” he said, despite it coming out just this past winter. “That’s another thing… I feel like I evolve pretty quickly. For that one, I was listening to a lot of HAIM and The 1975. Everything that has come after that been more of the organic side of things. More guitar based. I feel like I’m really settled into this singer-songwriter vibe.” Recent release “Before You Go” reflects that guitar-based structure, relying almost strictly on acoustics and solid lyricism to paint the picture: “Take me out of the cold/ All I ever do is hurt/ Give me something to hold/ Another memory to know/ Give me your hand to hold/ Just an end to the show… before you go.”
His evolution throughout the years goes beyond his vocal and songwriting prowess, but as a producer as well. Stumbling across NYC-based duo Eighty Ninety a number of years ago led to a fruitful working relationship with member Harper James, who produced McMahon’s 2019 track “Higher.“ They also worked on two additional tracks remotely in 2020. For my early stuff, I really wasn’t much of a producer,” he said. “I didn’t really know the terminology or how to be a part of it. Working on ‘Higher’ was the first time I had the chance to be a part of the process and learn.
While opportunities like performing at the Clarkson and Kennedy shows don’t come around every day for DIY artists like McMahon, he says they fuel him to keep going, whether or not they lead to anything substantial. “None of them have been a game-changer for me, but, from the Dermot thing especially, there are a handful of people who saw me there who started following me and really like what I do,” he said. “They still keep with me. On a personal level, it just got me extra fired up and motivated.”
“Someone,” a straightforward pop-rock track begging for pickups on driving playlists, addresses McMahon’s frustrations with being single at this stage of his 20s: “I’m tired of waking up with no one else around/ Going solo to the party get me down/ All my friends, they’re all slowly peeling off to better halves/ And I’m still alone… is there anyone out there?”
“I’m on a different path… music is really my number one priority in life,” he said, acknowledging his somewhat abnormal journey. “I’ve had those moments… I live alone, I always feel like a third wheel, and I think there’s a bit of insecurity because of where I’m from. It’s more of a common thing to, by a certain age, get married, have a family… that kind of thing. I’ve had moments of weakness about it, so I just wanted to write a song about it. Vent about it.”
The chorus of the tune is indicative of what he wants out of a partner when the stars align: “Someone I would die for… bring me back to life/Someone who will catch me… help me through the night.” “I talk about it in ‘No Control’ … I wish I had someone who could be an ear for me,” he said. “I have that with friends and family… they hear enough of it, but someone who can pull me out of those dark places and bring that extra sense of joy.”
While tentatively putting together a collection of songs fit for an EP, McMahon, who is wearing all of the typical indie artist hats at the moment as it pertains to his career, hopes to be able to get out and give back to the fans who have been waiting for his next move. “My biggest hope is to be able to go on a small little tour if some of these songs get a little traction,” he said. “I go on TikTok Live all the time to play and I have a handful of people… kind of my day ones, who show up to all the streams and want to see me play in person. I really want to be able to do that. I want to go travel and play for new people.”