Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Peyton: Soul Provider

Peyton Peyton Peyton Peyton

(Having the opportunity to play live) is one of the reasons I'm so excited about this album. I've already been doing showcases. It's been a great way to hone my craft. Over the years my average stage time has been midnight or 2 am plus…

Singing in a club where people are inebriated, off their heads on drugs and not necessarily there to see me because I'm performing as part of an overall club night. Then you have a crap sound system because these venues are generally not set up for live (performance). I have everything working against me so I have had to learn how to somehow get people's attention. I've always had to sing so full on, that it felt like giving birth to the notes through my mouth!” Since his 2005 self-titled debut album and hit single “A Higher Place”, soul singer Peyton has become one of house music's most distinctive vocalists. Splitting his time between the UK and Ibiza, while collaborating with legendary producers including Eric Kupper, James Reynolds and DJs Frankie Knuckles and Wayne G, the vocal powerhouse has spent the last fifteen years jet-setting and club hopping, performing to crowds of enthusiastic clubbers around the world.

Off stage, Peyton went on to co-host Queer Eye For The Straight Guy UK, and would later find himself amidst controversy following his shocking elimination from 2016’s X Factor. “Now I'm working with a vocal coach to help me pull back and just sing. I'm loving it but I'm taking it very seriously” Peyton continues, “I come from a long line of preachers so now I can talk between songs. It's a chance to perform in a different way. In clubs, I wouldn't allow the DJ announce that I was coming on because it would kill the vibe. So to sing to people that are at least relatively sober at 8pm in the evening is amazing!”

With his new album “Sinners Got Soul Too”, Peyton's new found vocal restraint and focus has helped to create a beautifully personal and intimate album. While his signature rich vocal style remains, Peyton's new material demonstrates his evolution as a song writer. Tired of hook-driven, repetitive beats, now Peyton says his music is all about the songs. “I've been working in dance music for fifteen years - my first hit was in 2003. There have been elements of gospel and soul in the majority of the original mixes of my work, especially the house mixes. At that time, house music was still a song based genre. My first hit “A Higher Place” had three verses, a bridge and four choruses. I've always joked that it's almost like a hymn! It's a very big soulful, uplifting house track. I carried on making that kind of music. I grew up in the church, so I have tried to infuse the music I make with the feeling of gospel, the optimism of gospel but without the religious aspect of it. The lyrical content has always been uplifting. Over the past few years, the trends in dance music have drastically changed. Now they often don't want more than just a hook. It is absurd that we would actually want to write a whole song! I am a singer and performer but what I get the most satisfaction from is the writing.”

Born Christopher Peyton, in Virginia U.S.A, the energetic and articulate showman comes from a long line of preachers. Raised on gospel music, a young Peyton discovered his musical gift at age six performing choir solos. With a passion for all things creative, Peyton was often bullied as a child but found refuge in his church. Recalling those difficult early years, Peyton shares “I would do little solos on stage for the Sunday morning service and I would often star in the little children's church productions. That carried on all my life.... (Later), I was severely bullied for a couple of years at school. If you were a boy and you were doing something in the creative arts you got bullied for it. I pulled out doing anything musical at school, it wasn't worth paying the price, I just couldn't face it. So I've often given credit to the church for giving me that safe space to nurture my love of music and performing. I still approach singing in the same way - you are singing to lift people up - I learned that in the church. I am really glad I had that foundation”.

In an unusual twist of fate, Peyton received an unexpected request from a fan to which he reluctantly agreed. Ultimately, this would also become the catalyst for his new album.“A fan that had followed my house music for many years got in touch with my management team to ask if I could sing at his wife's birthday party as a surprise. He and his family had listened to my music (a lot) then he asked if I would be interested in writing a song for his wife, as (a message) from him to her. He wanted it to be a song about their love story. I was like a surrogate for this love story of two people that I never met. It was a tall order because is so personal. I agreed to take on the challenge bearing in mind if he wasn't happy with what I did, that was OK. There was something liberating about writing about feelings and a story that weren't mine. Even though it was also from my heart. Writing outside the parameters of the dance music genre (was great), In the end, it became the song “The Way I Love You”. I got in touch with James Reynolds who I'd worked with for many years when he was a dance music producer. He has since gone on to produce some of the big pop superstars. But he agreed to do it because he loved me and wanted to help me out.

Album “Sinners Got Soul Too” is out through Peyton Music

You can read more from our exclusive interview with Peyton, including his thoughts on making his debut album “Sinners Got Soul Too” and the artist's inner struggle while appearing on X Factor in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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Words Karen Lawler

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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