An energetic performer and uncompromising musician, Master Peace is readying himself for a certified ascension to indie rock stardom. Over an afternoon at his recording studio in Croydon, END. and Master Peace discuss community, multiplicitous influences and where he wants to be in the future.
Hailing from Morden, South West London, Master Peace has found himself bridging the gap between contemporary rap and indie rock. Heading into largely uncharted territory, the 20-year-old musician carefully bivouacs between a variety of influences from seemingly disparate sources, cultivating a unique perspective on indie rock that nods to the past while feeling wholly modern.
Having spent his formative years navigating the myriad of music scenes in the English capital - no mean feat in the internet age - Master Peace’s musical output has shifted ostensibly since his first offerings two years ago. Now, Peace has found his footing and voice, presenting a contemporary interpretation of indie rock filtered through his eclectic listening habits and influences. Having cut his teeth performing grime and trap music, building a name for himself for his raucous live shows, radio sessions and festival performances, the young artist is ready to launch himself into the public eye. Not one to rest on his laurels, Peace’s ambition and drive is infectious, as he stridently launches his career with his first official single, “Night Time”.
Cast over skittering programmed drum rhythms and surf-rock inspired guitars, Peace's London drawl croons bittersweet romantic gestures to deliver an infectious indie-pop banger. The perfect end-of-summer anthem, "Night Time" signals Peace's understanding of his own musical history and what he has achieved. Blending elements of hip-hop production methods with indie rock instrumentation offers a unique twist on the genre - a twist that Peace is certainly aware of. Now, with a charmingly confident debut single under his belt, the young artist is set to take over. Sitting down with Master Peace at his producer's studio space in Croydon, we discuss community, multiplicitous influences and where he wants to be in the future.
What inspired your first experimentations with music and when did you know that you wanted to make music professionally?
It was towards the start of college really; I’d played around with music before but that was the first point that I thought I could take it seriously. I’d watched Straight Outta Compton and saw how Eazy E couldn’t really rap to start with – so I thought I’d really give music a proper try. I always wanted my music to be a bit left field when compared to what I'd been doing before; everyone always expected me to make straight up trap or grime but that’s not what I’m about. The music I’ve grown up listening to has helped me shape the music I’m making now, but I just didn’t know how to put it out into the world. That’s why it has taken me a lot of time to build my sound with my team. I really had to take time with it to get it to where it is now; finding out what does and doesn’t work, experimenting with different sounds. It was a trial and error learning process over the past two years.
Did you find that audiences were instantly receptive to the music you were producing?
Yeah! But I feel like I had to do the live round first, trying out all the songs I’ve written in the studio before releasing my music. I didn’t want to sit around at home, doing nothing and waiting for music to drop. I wanted to build a name for myself as an exciting performer and really gas it up before I released any music, to really give the people who’ve seen me perform live something to talk about. The live circuit really helped me to form a fan base before I actually dropped any music.
Your live shows are always full of energy, capturing the raw power of a trap or grime show but transferring it to a different genre. Was this a natural by-product of your musical history?
It happened naturally! If you try and force a sound, a look or an image it doesn’t work as well – but I naturally listen to Busted, The 1975 and Bastille. I listened to those bands growing up – I didn’t just decide “I want to be in an Indie band”. When it comes to my live performance, I already have a lot of energy, so I just tap that natural energy, dive into it and really gas up the crowd, making it feel like they are a part of it as well. It’s not just me that’s on the stage, I want the audience to feel that they’re the superstar.
Your shows have this openness to them – the audience and the performer are very close, and it almost feels like a communal experience, with you getting as much out of the performance as someone who has paid to go and see you. Is cultivating a community around your music important to you?
Building a little fan base and community of people who really fuck with your music is important, and I feel that it really starts from home. If your friends like your music, then when you actually release it to the wider world, they’re more likely to spread the word. For example, we used to go to Relentless’ Number Five music studio in Denmark Hill and throw our own gigs, hoping that people would come down just on word of mouth. All we’d do was put it on Instagram, saying that we had a show there with 100 capacity and get people down. We got a fan base in a really DIY way. From that, people started bringing their friends and eventually A&R reps started to come down - it was so easy to just get our faces out there without doing a huge amount. I always thought, “let me see how much I can actually do without dropping any music”. I’m building my career properly, so I don’t want to drop music and have it completely overlooked - it makes more sense to wait and drop it when I have an audience. With my new single “Night Time”, all the groundwork from before I had released any music has really contributed to why the track is doing well. I’ve already built that fan base where people know the lyrics to my songs that aren’t even out yet, who are then waiting for them to drop and getting really excited when they do.
How have your old fans reacted to your new sound?
I went from grime, to trap, to indie in the space of two years. I was doing a lot of grime sets on Radar Radio to get my name out there, and people really liked the way I was making that kind of music in a different way. Then I did some underground trap, soundcloud music, where I could post a quick tune or a demo, and there wasn’t so much pressure. I always knew where I wanted to go with music, but it would’ve been really hard for me to just appear and release indie music to the community I’m a part of. You have to do the groundwork through each genre to let people take it in, cos now all the trap and grime fans are into my indie stuff too. All of this is squeezed together to make Master Peace.
How do you approach writing music?
You’ve got to just try new things, and even if it doesn’t work at least you’ve tried it. You’ve got to fail a lot to get to where you want to be. The last two years have been tough because I’ve been trying to get everything together into a cohesive project. There are so many hoops you’ve got to jump through to get to this point, and now that we’re here it really is go-time. My career starts now. Whatever I’ve done in the past, that’s cool, but for me and the people who are new to my music this is the start of my career.
Who is your music written for?
I think it caters to everyone. I have a lot of young fans, but I think that if I dropped an EP now, there would be something there for most people to enjoy. My next single is going to be completely different to what you’ve heard on “Night Time” - it’ll be totally unexpected. I want to dip in and out of different sounds, moving between Indie, Trap and Grime. When I drop my EP, you’ll see! I think that whatever you like, there will be a tune there for you.
Top 3 musicians to collaborate with (dead or alive)?
Definitely Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, facts! Trippie Redd for a contemporary rapper, and then I would probably say Matt Healy from the 1975. It has got to be those three, one-hundred percent!