Contributing Editor Andrea Knapp
Not many teenagers these days can say they draw comparisons to Stevie Nicks and The Cure, but 17-year-old singer Peyton Gilliland’s sound has been described as having hints of both. This seems appropriate for someone who is trying to make her mark with a style she calls “Organic Pop. It is mostly all real instruments recorded in real time and I like to think it has a throwback feel.”
Though she doesn’t feel she really compares to anyone else out there right now, that throwback quality and her vocal stylings are also most often reminsicent of Adele. When asked about who her sound is compared to, she says, “Popdust did an article on my last release, ‘Ghost’ and said, ‘echoes of 80’s gloom rock like the The Cure, combined with the modern pop flair of artists like Adele.’ I have never tried to pin down my sound but that’s pretty accurate.” She attributes the development of that sound in part to her producer, Lincoln Parish, former lead guitarist for Cage the Elephant. “Sometimes I’m not the best at describing exactly what I want, but he always nails it and helps me turn it into something special,” she explains.
Parish is also part of the reason her singing career feels like a reality for her. Though she started performing in church when she was six years old, she says, “It wasn’t ‘real’ for me until we got in the studio with Lincoln.” It’s no wonder his former band is one of her biggest influences. She also lists Amy Winehouse and Alabama Shakes as inspiration, but she says she is not trying to copy anyone else. She believes her sound and her age set her apart from others, which “is why it is sometimes hard to describe my music, and the throwback feel is because it is not as synthesized as most pop you hear on the radio right now. I feel it’s a little more organic, and some say that makes it a lot more soulful.”
This organic sound may have also contributed to her early success, which includes some impressive career highlights. Just last week her song, “Ones That Leave” charted on Digital Radio. She and her guitarist, Ryan Demers did an acoustic version of “Ghost” for NBC’s Today in Nashville, and she’s had several new music mentions in Tiger Beat. She also got the chance to perform at The Basement in Nashvile a week before tornadoes devastated the area. And she adds, “Celeb Secrets and Digital Journal both gave me incredible feedback on my music. Hannah Arn and I had a song that we wrote (when I was 14) that was a finalist in the international John Lennon Song writers competition, and I have had several semi-finalists in the International SongWriters Competition with Craig Wilson, Jason Lane, and John Salaway.”
All of this before she has even finished her junior year of high school, and she shows no signs of slowing down. Coming off her latest single, “Ghost,” Gilliland has two more singles slated for release. The first is “Frantic,” which will come out on May 15th and then “Dangerous” after that. She also has plans to record two more, “Spoonful” and “Empty” in the upcoming weeks. Aside from that, her only other plans for the foreseeable future are “to have a great summer before my senior year, and if I happen to cross paths with Matt Shultz from Cage the Elephant, it will be just that much better.”
For now, she is content to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic and stay-at-home quarantine. “I live on a horse farm, so that makes quarantine a little easier,” she says. “I have done a lot of cleaning and Facetime writes but I’m getting the chance to ride my horse a lot!” She also passes her time, ordering gift cards from local businesses and restaurants as a way of giving back to her community. When it’s over, she looks forward to going with her friends to get fast food, which goes a long way in helping her mainintain a positive attitude. She says she stays optimistic “just by thinking how amazing it will be to be back with my friends and remembering how we are all going through the same thing.” She adds that it’s hard to feel sorry for herself when others are fighting for their lives or risking their own to help the sick. “Perspective is a powerful thing when it comes to positivity,” she says.
And that positive perspective allows her to look forward to the future and what’s in store for her career. Within the next five years, she says she hopes “to grow our fan base and tour to meet all of the people who want to vibe with us (Ryan Demers- guitar, Sam Wronski- base, Bryan Good drums).” She also wants to build her following. She says, “I’d love for people to go follow me to keep up with my music! You can find me at @PeytonGillilandMusic on all platforms. See you soon! Fast food joint or on the road.”