New Zealand-raised but London-based newcomer Molly Payton arrives pretty much fully-formed. Her songs are rich, accomplished and instantly relatable in a way that belies her only-a-couple-of-years on the job. Her first EP ‘Mess’ was an angsty, low-key collection co-produced with fellow bopster and school pal Oscar Lang, while her second, ‘Porcupine’, is a full-on, no-holds-barred statement of intent. Molly takes a break from moving house (“I’m boxing my things up”) to fill us in.
Has what you get up to day-to-day had to change during the past few months? Bit of a weird time, isn’t it.
I was away for two or three months in New Zealand and the US at the beginning of the year and then came straight back into UK lockdown, so I think I kind of lost any idea of what my day to day was! I’ve been lucky enough recently to get back in the studio and see a few of my close friends, so things feel a little less weird.
How are you coping with all of it? Do huge events like this bleed into your music at all?
At first, I found it really hard, during lockdown I experienced proper writer’s block for the first time ever and I didn’t write a single song for about two months (I used to write multiple a week). After I got past that though I think I started to view it almost as a blessing. Things had felt full-on for a while before lockdown, and I think it was nice for me to have time to just noodle and watch movies and read books.
How long ago did you leave school, has it been 100% music for you since then?
I finished school in May last year, and I think it’s probably been around 90% music and 10% pub jobs since then, hahaha.
Have you always known you want to be a musician?
Kind of, but not in the way that I am now. I did classical piano from when I was three until I was 15 – which was when I picked up the guitar and started writing – so it’s always been my ‘thing’. I didn’t take it seriously as a career option though until after I moved to London when I was about 17.
You still live in London, right? Where are your favourite places to hang out?
I do! I miss New Zealand so much, so I’m always looking for little pockets of nature to hang out in. I spend a lot of the time in Hampstead Heath and the pubs around that area.
Your new EP is great, what was the timeline like on putting it together?
I recorded most of it with Oli Barton Wood last summer, my first summer out of high school. The only exception being ‘Going Heavy’ which I wrote with him about a month ago and got so excited about that we’ve decided to release it as the next single around my EP.
Did you write the songs specifically for the EP, or is it more collating tracks you already had?
I definitely knew I was writing the songs for the EP, but I still think of each song as a separate thing rather as part of a body of work.
How did you find working with a producer? Had you collaborated much beforehand?
Working with Oli was great; it made everything feel a lot more legitimate than before. Oscar Lang produced my first EP when we were at school together, but at the time I had intended to only put it out on SoundCloud, so it felt more like a fun project I was creating with a mate than anything else!
Where do you like to look for inspiration, both in music and in life?
My own relationships, friendships and mental health, and the way that other artists have talked about those things mostly within film and poetry. Wong Kar Wai’s films inspire me a lot as well as Leonard Cohen’s book, The Flame.
What else are you working on at the mo?
Lots and lots of writing and collaborating with other people while it’s still allowed!
Taken from the November issue of Dork. Molly Payton’s EP ‘Porcupine’ is out now.