‘Thinking Pop’ is Here, and We Like It (A Lot): A Conversation with Peachkit

Peachkit is a modern pop/alternative artist who subscribes to the way creating music used to be — when the focus was not on making tabloid headlines, but on the music itself. The largely-anonymous artist, producer, and songwriter recently came to Nashville from the United Kingdom and is already making a splash: her single, “Like It (A Lot),” stood out among a strong field of 140 submissions to win the second edition of Songtank, a Songland-meets-Shark Tank broadcast competition from Helping Our Music Evolve (HOME).

Among her many accolades, Peachkit has multiple number one writing credits to her name. As an artist, she combines her knack for writing chart-topping hooks with raw honesty and social commentary to create her own brand of “Thinking Pop” — and she does it all while rarely, if ever, showing her face.

All told, Peachkit is a brilliant, world-aware creative soul who lets her music do the talking — and certainly, there is plenty of room for her voice! She’s truly in a league of her own, and we’re fortunate to have had the chance to chat in-depth. Check out the full convo below!

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It can be cliché to ask an artist, “How did you come up with your artist name?” However, you have an interesting story that ties into the overall vibe of the Peachkit project. Tell us about it!
When this project came about, it was 2020. As a songwriter, 70 percent of my income disappeared overnight when artists couldn’t tour. I made my money on royalties from live shows. I had all these songs sitting on a hard drive and I thought, “I want to try to put them into something.” I didn’t want to use my name, because I wanted it to be mysterious and not be about me, but be about the music.

My favorite film is A League of Their Own. It was just one of my favorite things, and I want something to connect the music to me, but have a separation between. The baseball team in A League of Their Own is the Rockford Peaches, and the character that I identified with, as a younger sister, was Kit. I was musing around on names, and one of the iterations came together, and it was Peachkit. It stuck from there, and I liked it.

It stemmed from women’s baseball coming about from the second World War. There was so much more they had to go through than the men. They’d have to dress up, they’d have to go to charm school. They’d have to wear makeup and short skirts, because it couldn’t just be that they were great baseball players. They had to be pretty to watch.

A lot came up in 2020 for lots of people, and for me, I saw a lot of artists who couldn’t go on tour. I was scrolling through Instagram and I was like, “Why is it important that I know what you had for lunch, or where you got your bikini, or that you’re dating this person or buying these shows?” I miss having music be the most important thing about you, what you’re doing, and what you’re trying to say.

Without a doubt, 2020 brought a lot to the surface for most of us. What was instilled during your formative years that made this the time to communicate your truth through music?
One of the reasons I became a songwriter was because I had the most horrific day at school when I was 13 or 14. My mum came to pick me up, and there was this song by Amy Studt called “Misfit.” It was like she had gotten into my brain. I was like, “Oh my God, this is everything I feel. She’s articulating everything that I don’t even know how to say.” I thought, “That’s the coolest job in the world, to make someone feel like they’re not the only person who feels like that.”

That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to connect with people and make them feel like they’re not alone. From that moment, I started to listen to music differently. For me, something that’s important is using music as a vehicle to share a message, share an idea, and connect with someone. That doesn’t mean it has to be deep and meaningful every time. One of my favorite songs is Hanson’s “MMMBop,” but even the lyrics and verses are deep and profound. The chorus is joyful, but there is a message to it.

In A Star is Born, when Bradley Cooper is talking to his brother, his brother says, “You stole my career!” Bradley’s character then said, “I didn’t steal your career. I just had something to say.” That’s so fascinating, and it really made me think that I know a lot of talented artists and musicians. Why didn’t they translate? What was it about them that didn’t work?

Some of the people on the radio, they’ve got a great message. They’ve got a great writer, or they’ve written it themselves, and they’re really trying to express something. That’s what I want to try to share with my music, as an artist.

More artists are beginning to use their platforms as a means of sharing their values and being truly vulnerable. What are some of the values you strive to communicate?
I like to call my music Thinking Pop. It can be upbeat and have a message. On the first Peachkit EP, “Love to Hate” was about a tragedy in the UK, where a famous TV presenter took her own life because of the pressure of the media, social media, and fans. Everybody felt it was their business to make a judgment on what happened, and it caused her to kill herself. The next day, everyone was going, “Oh, it’s so sad. It’s so terrible and awful.” I bet it was some of the same people who were going, “You’re this horrible person.” The trolls on social media. I was like, people just love to hate people. They build them up.

In a UK sense – this is a broad statement, and there’s definite nuance in it – but because of the lack of clear religion in the UK, there’s this loss of putting faith in God. We put our faith in celebrities, but the problem is celebrities are real people. They have flaws.

It’s very easy to build someone up and be like, “They are infallible. They are amazing and wonderful.” Then, they make a mistake and go against something that you believe in. Instead of going, “I still like them for these reasons,” you have to tear them down like dogs. “Love to Hate” was very much about that; to hold up a mirror to people, and the problematic nature of being an artist and having people troll you. You need these very intense and slightly crazy fans, because they’re the ones who will buy your music, go to every concert, and put your lyrics up on Genius. They’re also the ones who will tear you down if you step out of alignment with what they think. Lots of celebrities will turn around and say, “You know what? You’re all crazy,” and they have their careers taken away.

Aside from values, fandoms can also turn volatile when the artists they love make different creative choices, as well. What do you make of that?
People change. When you love a pop star or artist in a certain genre, era, or moment, you’re like, “I want you to stay like that.” The only thing that is certain is change, but to fans, there feels like there’s this betrayal. I think someone who’s handled change really well is Coldplay. They’re just like, “Cool, we’re going to do it anyway. We’re going to try something else.”

Shifting gears here: your single “Like It (A Lot)” recently gained recognition as the winning entry into the second edition of Songtank. You were selected as one of 10 finalists from a field of 140 songs, and the judges picked your single as the chosen one. What was the experience like?
It’s so incredible. I was just so shocked. I had heard some of the other songs and turned up on my own, because I didn’t think I was going to win. I was so delighted to be in the top 10. That was such a joy, and anything else is a bonus.

The whole experience was amazing. The final 10 were just lovely – it didn’t feel like a competition. It felt like a brand-new community. Because I was on my own, some of the other finalists were so encouraging and sweet. It just had a great energy. It was so inspiring, and it really invigorated me into going, “I didn’t even know this existed.” This surpassed my expectations of what it was like moving to Nashville, and relocating is no small feat. I have done writing trips before, but I’ve never fully moved countries. There is a lot of stress that comes with that – that you’re not aware of and nobody tells you about. Having this was such an incredible affirmation that I’m where I’m met to be. There are these great people who are here to help you, and there’s a HOME. That was so wonderful. Working with HOME and being a part of this whole community is so exciting. It feels kind of surreal.

Listen to “Like It (A Lot)” by Peachkit

What a beautiful introduction to Nashville! Having recently moved here, what has your experience in Music City been overall?
Other than the administrative hurdles you have jump through, it’s been incredible. That Nashville spirit. I always had someone say, “Nashville should have above every door, ‘If you’re nice you can come in. If you’re good, you can stay.’” You see a really talented person, and you’re like, “You are so nice, but you are so good.” It is that Nashville thing. You can notice it when someone comes from New York or LA and think they’re slightly superior, but we don’t do that here. Ego at the door.

Because everybody is so talented, there is a sense of intimidation, but there’s more a sense of, “I want to learn and better myself, rather than compete against you.” I want to be able to play with you, rather than play against you. I think that is so incredible, and I wish LA and London would jump on board with that. It’s such a shock for me being from the UK. People never share; it’s very much like, “This is my artist, and this is who I work with.”

Back to “Like It (A Lot),” it’s such an upbeat, feel-good slice of modern pop. Take us through the making of the song.
It’s so hilarious, because I wrote it with two incredible Nashville writers, Menna and Deanna Walker. We were laying vocals down for another song at Deanna’s studio. They turned to me and were like, “Do you like this?” I said, “I like it. I like it. I l-l-like it a lot” as a joke. I remember the moment – I thought, “That was really stupid. They’re going to think I’m a dork. This is really embarrassing.” Deanna just looked at me and said, “Is that a song?” I said no, and she said, “That’s what we should write.”

I have the original voice note. I found it the other day. It’s very funny – I’m not sure if it will ever be released, I wrote down a bunch of lyrics and had the rhythmic melody in my head. It was more of a rap thing, and then we all collaborated on it together. I wanted to keep it percussive, and kind of sassy and fun. I also secretly think I’m the fifth member of Abba, so I was like, “We have to add all of the harmonies in the world.”

Originally, Menna was the vocalist. She was incredible, but said it wasn’t really her vibe. We were going to try and pitch it out, and a lot of friends have said I have to put it in a commercial.

Also, it’s always been the one that I love and just want to play, It’s just fun. It came from that moment of, “Everything’s going right. I’m in charge of myself, and I really like that feeling.”

The line, “Sunshine in my pocket.” I have to credit my nephew for that. I was taking him to nursery, and he really didn’t want to go. I said, “Don’t forget, you can always have sunshine in your pocket. You can always bring the light and the sun.” He went, “Sun-SHINE in my pocket?” and I thought it would be cool to bring that in. We wrote it to that same rhythm.

So then, in 2020 during lockdown, I tricked Deanna and Menna. I told them that there was this artist who needed a song, and I re-recorded the vocals. There was this great guy called Dario who played drums and guitar, and gave it all the magic stardust it needed. Then, I sent it to them. I thought they’d know it was my voice, but they were like, “Oh my God, all of the harmonies. This is amazing. Who is it?” Menna was messaging me as Peachkit saying, “I love this. I just heard you were working together on this,” and I said, “I have to come clean. It’s me.” They found it very funny.

To this point, you’ve released music as Peachkit anonymously, opting to let your music do the talking. Have there been challenges associated with that creative choice, leading up to Songtank?
It was so difficult to think of social media strategies or ways to send out to publications. A lot of people in the UK were like, “I don’t get it. We can’t see your face. How are we going to sell anything?”

There was one guy, Danny Fulbrook, who runs BBC Introducing. He loved “Like It (A Lot).” He played it so much, and he was like, “I don’t know who this is. She’s this anonymous thing, and that makes me like it even more.” He was such a champion for me, but a lot of labels and PR were like, “I don’t get it.” It kind of re-fueled that thing of, it’s all about how you look and what you’re selling, and what can people buy into. How can this be profitable via how you look?

During Songtank, there were so many great songs, and there was a moment where I was like, “I haven’t been this artist. I haven’t put myself out there like all of them had.” But then, there was a part of me that was like, “I’ve kind of worked double, because I couldn’t ever use my face.”

Looking toward the future, what’s on the horizon, and how does your creative evolution to this point inform the road ahead?
I think I’m going to have to play out. I have a gig at Grindhouse Coffee on July 28. I had my Bluebird debut. What I want to do is more collaboration. There are a couple of artists here where I might do a “Peachkit-featuring,” or a “Peachkit-times” release.

I had an EP out at the beginning of this year. The first EP was very shiny and happy. There’s a song on there called “Running on Time,” which is about being in your power. Everyone’s like, “I’m running out of time. I’ve missed the boat, I’m over 30, and it’s all gone horribly wrong.” No, you’re running on your own time. Artists knowing that and staying in their power is helpful. It’s incredibly hard for a woman. Being over 30, suddenly it’s like, “We can’t market you until you’re 60, and then you’ll be like Meryl Streep, and we can do the whole silver thing.” But, it’s that whole 30 years in between, where women are apparently unmarketable.

It’s very different here in the US, but definitely in the pop world in the UK, everyone’s like, “It’s a shame. You’re really good, but we can’t really do anything with you.” Or they’ll change their age, and give them a stage age. Someone will be “24,” but I’ve been to their 30th birthday party.

That first EP was trying to shake things up. “Love to Hate” and “Heartstrings” were very provocative. The music video for “Heartstrings” was really digging into the music industry. It’s confrontational and calling a spade a spade, where everyone wants to play nice.

I released the second EP with Ben Parker Jr. They were songs on the shelf, because I wanted to keep with the idea that there were songs left over and they should be used. He brought a wonderful magic to it, and we wrote on them together. That was more about being honest about how hard it is in the music industry. It’s a lot darker, a lot more Americana, like a darker version of Oh Wonder. It still has all the Peachkit vocals and harmonies, but with more vulnerability. It was called Voice in My Head, based on the idea that we are our own worst enemies. Sometimes, you don’t have to have a silver lining. Sometimes, it’s just really hard.

There’s a great quote – one song, “Ships,” was built on a quote, “Ships only sink when the water gets inside.” That hit me, because, as a ship, you only sink when you let the negativity in. When you listen to it, hold it, or absorb it, that’s when you start to go down. I thought that was a cool thing to look at, but without necessarily providing a neat resolution. Actually think about it and meditate on it. What does that feel like? Do you do that, can you catch yourself doing that, and how do you best respond to it?

Going forward from there, I want to collaborate with some more people and do some new stuff. Maybe brings some old ideas in and see what magic I can build out here.

Looking way down the road, what do you want your legacy to be, as Peachkit or otherwise?
It’s such an interesting word, legacy. I think it is important to me. I’d love to witness my songs having a moment, rather than having it be posthumous, because it would mean so much to know that what I was feeling was felt by others. It is an energy exchange. Knowing that I felt a certain way, and having it come back.

My wildest dreams would be continuing to write songs and produce for other artists, but being able to do Peachkit, and think about what it might look like to do a mini tour. I’ve always been behind the scenes, and I’ve never even considered touring. I’ve worked with so many amazing vocalists – like, Beyonce level. Why would I do that?

But, the reaction from Songtank – and from people since, who have found me and reached out to me – makes me think that maybe there’s a place for my voice. It’s exciting, and something that is totally out of left field. It’s not what I was expecting.

What are the most important lessons that we should take away from your artistic journey?
As an artist, if all the doors are closed, build your own door. Do something different. You don’t have to do the tried and tested methods. Look to left field.

As a songwriter, find the people who are going up. Don’t try to chase the stars who have already risen. Sacha Skarbek, who wrote “You’re Beautiful” with James Blunt, once said to me that James was just starting out when they wrote that song. Sacha went to go up with him. He said to me, “I didn’t chase him. I was trying to find the people who I then went up with.” And then, he went on to write “Wrecking Ball” for Miley Cyrus. That was always immensely inspiring and incredibly helpful, because it made this seem so much more realistic. I felt so much more in control. I went to gigs and said, “Wow, I love that! That could be the next thing.” Sometimes I was right, sometimes I wasn’t. But, I learned that if it chimes with you, it’s more likely than not going to chime with others.

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