Meet Maisie Peters, the Singer-Songwriter Poised to Be Pop's Next Big Thing: 'My Music Is Me'

Maisie Peters' new single "Cate's Brother," which she says started as a "joke," is out now

Let it be known that Maisie Peters is not a fan of Wordle.

"I want to address the elephant in the room, which is I hate Wordle," the singer-songwriter says from her London studio as she Zooms into her PEOPLE interview, where a conversation on the popular game is already in progress. "Normalize being bad at Wordle. I never know what it is and it doesn't fill me with joy, it just fills me with panic."

The absolute fierceness with which Peters, who has enjoyed a swift rise to fame thanks to her ability to channel the most specific of experiences into catchy tunes, denounces the daily puzzle is a bit surprising, given her affinity for words.

With rapid-fire lyrics that range from clever and playful to heartbreakingly poignant ("I'll cry you a river, then I'll drown you in it," she sings on "Volcano"), Peters, 21, has amassed a growing fan base and even earned herself the job of Ed Sheeran's opening act on his European arena tour.

Next up, she'll dive head-first into her own flavor of '80s arena rock with "Cate's Brother," her new single out Friday, which she wrote with producer Fat Max Gsus.

The song — which takes a page out of the "Stacy's Mom" handbook as Peters pursues romance with a pal's sibling — has been hotly anticipated by fans since the star teased it in a February TikTok that featured her playing it for her friend Cate (who very much exists) for the first time.

"Cate does have a brother, who is a sweet, sweet Canadian prince. No, we are not dating," she says. "The song was literally just a joke for me and my friendship group. I wrote it in Sweden and was like, 'Oh, this will be funny.' And then lo and behold, out it came."

While "Cate's Brother" may not exactly be ripped from the pages of Peters' diary, many of her songs are — or at least, sound like they are, giving her catalog a hyper-specific relatability comparable to that of pop darlings Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo.

"Sometimes things are entirely autobiographical and literally lifted from the scenes of my life," she says. "And then sometimes there's truth to it, but I just let myself be really free with what my imagination conjures up. I am someone that is just down for a laugh all the time, and I really want my music to have that personality in it. My music is me, and it's the same."

Maisie Peters
Maisie Peters. Erik Rojas

Peters was born and raised in a small town in West Sussex, England, to a teacher father and a mother who works in communications. The singer, who has a twin sister, wrote her first song at 9 years old, so long ago that she can no longer even remember the tune.

"My parents are not musical at all," she says. "But they're both really into music, and I grew up listening to ABBA and Meat Loaf and Lily Allen and British girl bands. I loved Girls Aloud, I loved the Sugababes. Taylor Swift was a little bit later, but obviously that was my deep, true love. I loved stuff that told stories."

Early lyrics borrowed from lives from far different from her own, including a song she wrote at 13 that featured the narrator "throwing my husband in the river, in the creek. I think I was in Texas."

As she started looking inward for inspiration, Peters hunkered down and honed her craft, writing songs "every day, all the time" without giving too much thought as to where it would take her. Though she uploaded her first song to YouTube in 2015, she considered going to college, unaware that being a musician was something she could pursue full-time.

Maisie Peters
Erik Rojas

"I was not trying to be a pop star, but the pop star life found me," she says. "I was in pubs and doing open mics and I was a busker, and I was in bands and would do local festivals. I think I met my manager through that, and then from then on, it was really just, well, how far can I take this? Because I really love it."

Her debut album You Signed Up for This was released in August on Sheeran's Gingerbread Man Records, and the Grammy winner said at the time that he was "so proud to have my name associated with her and her talent."

Now, after a headlining U.S. tour of her own, Peters is serving as his opening act as he plays Europe, something she calls "the most out-of-body experience." Sheeran, who was once an inspiration, is now a friend — and a source of wisdom.

"He's given me a lot of advice, [like] celebrate the highs, but don't feel knocked over by the lows," she says. "And then a slightly funny piece of advice is, if you are not trying to have a hangover, then stay clear of spirits with little hats on them. Like tequila, the spirits with little hats on the bottle."

Maisie Peters
Maisie Peters. Erik Rojas

As for what's next, Peters seems well aware that what isn't broken doesn't need fixing. The singer says her forthcoming new music is "pretty autobiographical," and will feature a mix of new influences, some more unexpected than others.

"[Growing up] I loved the Arctic Monkeys and My Chemical Romance and All Time Low and Fall Out Boy," she says. "You hear a little bit of that in my new music as well. 'Cate's Brother' is just the beginning. I'm feeling really good about the music that we've been making and I think it's really fun, so I'm excited."

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