by Chelsea Pittman
There’s so much power in actually deciding something and going for it.
Christopher Peyton, better known by his stage name, Peyton, has been blessing House music with his gospel-sounding vocals and songwriting for 12 years now. He has worked on numerous projects with the legendary Eric Kupper, created a song with the late Frankie Knuckles and as he put it, “raised a lot of roofs” throughout his career. Now, after much convincing from DJ and founder of Fierce Angel Records, Mark Doyle, he has released for sale on iTunes and Beatport, as well as a physical CD, a collection of his best songs and projects all in one place under the title Peyton: Ibiza House Sessions. The CD includes 24 full-length, unmixed tracks, and the digital download includes 26 full-length tracks with 2 DJ mixes by Mark Doyle: The Beach Sessions and The Uplifting House Sessions. This newest release features Here I Am by Peyton and Eric Kupper, Beautiful with Director’s Cut featuring Frankie Knuckles and Eric Kupper, Heavenly Vocal’s mix of Peyton and Arkoss’ In Love with My Life, among many more. See the full track list here.
Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak with Peyton from his Ibiza home while he sat in his ‘old librarian glasses’ as he describes them, anddespite his lack of sleep (the night before a storm rocked the little mediterranean island) and a few technical difficulties getting started, he was just as spirited and lively as any of his songs. After the niceties of hellos and how are you’s, the conversation organically shifted to the state of House music from his perspective. After 12 years in the industry, Peyton has witnessed a shift in House music and EDM overall where the soulful, lyrical music he creates is no longer the trend, and festivals and clubs are filled with listeners responding more to substances than to the music.
Peyton: “Soulful house or classic house is not exactly what you call ‘trendy,’ but for me that is what house music really is and was always meant to be. I love music that when you hear it on the dance floor you don’t need to be on drugs to connect with it, you know what I mean?”
“The connection comes from the content. It comes from the message, it comes from the soul that you feel from the artist that you’re hearing. This is the magic of house music, which sadly, these days, the House just seems to be empty. Empty House, ha! That would be a good name for an album! Not my album obviously, haha.”
Another shift in the industry since he first got his start with Hed Kandi back in 2003, is how people listen to music. We went from purchasing music, to downloading online for free and now to almost solely using streaming apps like Spotify and Apple Music. It is because of this new age of obtaining music that Peyton released his last project, Beach House Sessions, to give away at his shows and online for free download, and actually argued against selling this new project in the first place. We even laughed at the reality of an artist actually not wanting to sell their music, an idea that just a few years ago would seem outrageous.
Peyton: “…Mark insisted that we create something we could sell and I actually fought him on this. I said no, what I really want is a CD that I can pay to press up and can give away at my gigs. I don’t want to have to bother getting contracts sorted, and going through all the work you have to go through to be able to put together an actual sellable CD because people aren’t buying music enough to validate the effort. So we went back and forth on this, which now thinking about it makes me laugh. I can’t believe I argued against the idea of selling my own music, you know you think about it, and it sounds absurd. He actually had to convince me—bully me— to create this Peyton collection for sale. That kind of in itself tells you about the state of the music industry: when an artist is fighting to not sell his music because he doesn’t think that it’s going to be worth the effort because that’s how bad it is with sales.”
As much as that says about the state of the music industry, it says a lot more about the artist that will create regardless of the financial climate, and still work to give his fans a project they can connect with in a way that is currently so rare to the genre. Peyton’s lyricism and inspiration is often sparked by his personal experiences, whether it’s falling in and out of love or the drive to continue to write uplifting, gospel-esque music from his background. As a writer with a background in literature, Peyton is armed with the eye to look deeply and critically at the world around him and articulate what people need to hear, which couples perfectly with the art of music.
Peyton: “As a writer I think that I have matured a lot. I think that for the first few years when I was with Hed Kandi a lot of the songs that I wrote were very similar to gospel because I had only really known gospel and that was such a big part of my musical heritage. In a way, I was almost scared to write anything other than a big, uplifting, happy, gospel-ish song. That was kind of my forté, but over the years I think I have pushed myself and definitely expanded my repertoire, and I think my writing has matured.”
It’s safe to say that in any profession, as time progresses you learn more and more about your craft. Sometimes those lessons are more technical, while other times those lessons are what we learn about ourselves and how we want what we do to affect others. I asked Peyton what he felt was the number one thing he has learned after being in this industry for so long, and it was refreshing to hear how passionate he remained about creating and retaining a relationship with each person that comes and sees him at his shows. The fact that after over a decade of performing in countries all over the world and in front of crowds of all sizes with both the best and worst conditions, for him, what he’s learned is to never allow that part of his job to become like just another day at work, but to make it special and to make it have a lasting impact.
That kind of in itself tells you about the state of the music industry: when an artist is fighting to not sell his music because he doesn’t think that it’s going to be worth the effort
Peyton: “None of us are on it all the time, or always at our peak, or as good as we could be or as focused, but I have always strived to make each performance genuine and to connect. Sometimes that requires me getting off the stage and getting down into the crowd, which I do a lot. I prefer seeing into people’s eyes. When I do very large shows, and I’m in very big crowds and I can’t get off the stage, I actually find it less satisfying. When I have to stand and sing for 26,000 people, and of course I can’t see anything, I don’t actually enjoy it in the same way that I do when I can get down into a crowd of people and get right in their faces and sing to them and smell them and feel their breath on my neck as their dancing. This for me has always been what it’s about because I feel like if I can physically see them, I can spiritually effect them.”
The more I listened to him answer my fairly vague, yet introspective questions the more inspired I became. Peyton represents to me what every true artist strives to be. Of course there is the want for fame because what that carries is a broader audience and a deeper reach. It spreads the impact you are allowed to make, but in 2015, where fame isn’t exactly a novelty anymore, I think it can be difficult to find an artist who is as sincere and giving as Peyton. His artistry is selfless, and because of that he was able to be honest with himself and take a risk into doing something different with his career. A change that has re-inspired him and I believe will excite his existing fans as well as create many more.
Peyton: “I now want to step away from having to write within this shoebox of a genre which is dance music. It’s no longer providing me with the platform that I feel as inspired or challenged by, and I need to move on. I don’t know if I didn’t do this before out of lack of confidence? I think in some ways I needed to carry on with my career making dance music because it was also the thing that was bringing me an income, so this is where I focused all of my creative energy. But what I’m now working on is a new project, a new album, not a dance music project whatsoever, but it has all the soul and the power and the grit of the music that I’ve made up until now. So, by next year I should be releasing a brand new Peyton album, but in a whole new way. It just feels right, and once you make decisions to do something, whatever it is, all these things you never could’ve conceived of before conspire to help you achieve the thing you suddenly put your sites on. There’s so much power in actually deciding something and going for it.”
I feel like if I can physically see them I can spiritually effect them.
An artist’s path is never easy, and with so many avenues out there, it can be difficult to know which direction to take. Even when you get comfortable, one day that thing that provided you with security can change, and what we can all get from Peyton is comfort in the fact that it’s okay if that happens, and to take those risks because your calling probably has many ways it can be shared with the world. This newest release, put together by Mark Doyle, represents an already fulfilling career for any fan of his, but I don’t really want to call it a ‘Best of Peyton’ mix, rather than a best of what he’s done so far. His knack for connecting with his audience doesn’t end on the dance floor. His gift doesn’t lie solely in his big voice or uplifting lyrics, but it carries on in his spirit and will undoubtedly carry him into the future. The best is yet to come for this well-deserving singer/songwriter, and I’m more than excited to see what he does in the next couple of years with his new endeavors in the music world.
Peyton: “When I used to sing in the church I used to pray that God would use me as an instrument, but nothing more. That he would direct the crowd’s attention away from me and upwards towards him, and as I continued to perform—and I don’t do anything that is religious as I’m no longer a religious person—I still very much pray for this same thing to happen…so that my show is not just a big ego-fest for me, but what it actually really does is take people to a higher place. That’s sort of been my life’s mission and it still is.”
Check out the promo video for Peyton’s new release: Fierce Angel Presents : Peyton – Ibiza House Sessions
And download on iTunes and Beatport (£6.99) or purchase the CD version (£7.99) here.
Tune in to Dance One Radio to hear the entire interview, including his creative process with Eric Kupper, Saturday, August 22, 2015 at 11:00 am PST during a streaming of Peyton’s Beach House Sessions. Or listen on demand here…