Interview: Peyton talks George Michael, new single 'Let It Shine' and upcoming album
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Internationally-renowned singer-songwriter and 2016 “X Factor UK” finalist Peyton’s hot new single “Let It Shine” drops across multiple digital platforms today, April 7. The inspirational track is a collaboration with his long-time friend, Steven Redant. Peyton has built his spectacular reputation in the global dance music scene by packing his soulful, powerhouse performances full of optimism and light.

Redant is an acclaimed Spanish-based DJ and producer who has remixed for artists across multiple genres including Rihanna, Lady Gaga, George Michael and Ariana Grande. He called upon Peyton to add his distinct gospel-infused vocals to his tribal beats and African chant and ultimately, something magical happened.

The infectious track boasts a huge bassline and combines Redant’s robust tribal beats with Peyton’s dynamic vocals and gospel-influenced lyrics. The song’s pulsating positive message fulfills a shared artistic desire to lift people up with their music.

It’s feel-good, dance-ready music at its best and Peyton’s soulful urging to “let it shine” immediately commands a smile and compels us to groove. This electric endeavor notably marks the first time these close pals have worked together professionally and the funky, fresh, and fabulous finished product couldn’t come at a better time.

2016 was a particularly tough year for music, as many iconic artists left us too soon. Peyton felt the sting of two heavy losses in December when one of his best friends and collaborators, Carlos Gallardos, died two days before one of his music heroes, George Michael. Plus, the global political climate had people in a perpetual state of unrest.

If anyone is known for beaming a radiant light to shatter a dark situation, it’s Peyton, whose steadfast commitment to fostering love and light in his music and beyond has guided him his entire life and greatly influenced his songwriting process. His strong spiritual connection to whatever he sings is captivating and his unbridled energy during a performance is contagious.

Performing “Let It Shine” live for the first time at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia gave Peyton a grand opportunity to build people up. The crowd went crazy and the intrinsic rewards from the experience were immeasurable.

AXS recently caught up with Peyton to discuss George Michael, “Let It Shine” and progress on his highly-anticipated upcoming album. Read our exclusive Q & A interview with Peyton below.

AXS: You’ve been traveling quite a bit since the last time we talked. Where is the most exciting place you’ve been since your “X Factor UK” exit?

Peyton: I've just returned from Sydney, Australia where I was performing on the main stage for Mardi Gras this year. I've worked a lot in Sydney over the years and I love it dearly. But, getting to perform at Mardi Gras was an incredible buzz! 

AXS: Do you keep in touch with any of your fellow “X Factor” contenders? If so, who?

P:  Yes, I do. I keep in touch with Samantha Atkinson, Janet Grogan, Relley C, Saara Aalto, James Wilson, Caitlyn Vanbeck, Gifty Louise and of course all the 4 of Diamonds! A few months ago, Caitlyn got a bunch of us together for her birthday and we had a big “X Factor” reunion which was a lot of fun!  

AXS: You dubbed George Michael as your “bucket list” duet partner in our last interview. How did his music inspire you? In what way, if any, did his death influence your creative vision or goals?

P: George Michael was an inspiration on so many levels. As a songwriter and vocalist of course, he was quite simply one of the greats. As a mainstream artist who had to cope with being gay at a time when it wasn't nearly as socially accepted as it is today, he was somewhat of a pioneer. He paved the way for so many other artists and showed the world that by being and embracing yourself unapologetically, you can shine an even brighter light in the world. His death is a huge loss, but his life was a gift that keeps on giving to all of us through his incredible music.  

AXS:  You did a tribute performance. What was that like?

P:  Two days before Christmas one of my dearest friends and closest collaborators died – the DJ and producer Carlos Gallardo. Carlos and I had created many dance tracks together over the years, but our most recent collaboration was a dance cover of George Michael's “Careless Whisper,” which is still unreleased. 

I was already booked to perform in London for a David Bowie-themed event. So, I asked if I could turn it into a tribute performance for all three artists. It was an emotional night to say the least. More recently, I performed George Michael's 'Freedom' at Sydney Mardi Gras, with thousands of people singing the lyrics to that iconic chorus together back to me. I think George was definitely looking down and loving that moment as much as I was!  

AXS: You mentioned a sense of the “darkness winning” in your press release statement for “Let It Shine.” What has inspired you to stay positive and continue to project your vibrant inner light?

P:  Like many of my friends, I arrived at the end of last year with the feeling I was dragging myself across a proverbial finish line. It was a tough year for many reasons, not least because the world stage seemed to be darker than ever. It felt like overall there was a consensus that the forces of evil were gaining ground.

“Let It Shine” is my anthem of defiance. It's my message to the world that in the face of darkness we mustn't cower, but rather shine our lights more brightly. After all, darkness is nothing more than the absence of light! 

AXS: What was the collaboration process like on this song? What is the best thing about working with Steven Redant?

P: Steven sent me the bare bones of the original track to see if it was something that interested me, and I immediately loved it. I've been a fan of Tribal House for many years. But, I don't think I've ever actually worked on an original project in that style. This track grabbed my attention and I knew working with Steven would be both fun and easy, because he is both.

AXS: Your gospel influence fits this track so well! How did you approach the songwriting process? Did the lyrics come quickly?

P: Steven had of course made it very clear his idea for this track was to create a fusion of African tribal and American gospel sounds, so I at least had that concept for direction. The rest just flowed quite easily as we got together and talked about what we wanted people to feel when they heard this track. We wanted to create the kind of dance track which would have an impact on the dance floor, as much for its lyrical content as its sound. We wanted to take people to the church of love and light!   

AXS: You performed the track at the Sydney Mardi Gras. What was that experience like and what was the crowd reaction to the song?

P:  I performed it twice, and the second time was even more fun than the first because it was at the official Mardi Gras after-party called 'Laneway' where thousands of people were outside dancing in the street. It started raining during my show and yet nobody ran for cover. The rain just seemed to make everyone even more joyous!

As I sang the Dirty Disco remix of “Let It Shine” that tribal chorus kicked in under the gospel chorus and thousands of people were just dancing in the rain singing 'this little light of mine I'm gonna let it shine!' It was magical.  

AXS: What message do you hope people take away from “Let It Shine”?

P: Everything is gonna be okay. Just keep shining your light and let the world know that love is and always will be winning.  

AXS: Can you tease any details about your new album? How is it progressing?

P:  I'm heading to London this Sunday for an intense week in the studio to finish up the final few tracks.  I’m over the moon with how it’s going. It has been such a labor of love and so emancipating for me creatively to work outside the dance music genre. I’m in love with making music again, and that's the most important thing. I promise you will be hearing more about the album very soon! 

AXS: What people, places, or events over the past few months have inspired or influenced your writing process?

P: I decided to go back to London for a few months at the end of the year, and I'm so glad that I did. It was exactly where I needed to be, given the way I was feeling and then after losing Carlos. As much as I might say other places in the world can feel like home, there is nowhere in the world that really IS my home in the way London is. 

I was in a dark place emotionally, but being where I have so much support and so many genuine longtime friends really reminded me of how blessed I am. I wrote some great songs over that period which stemmed from that connection to a place in the world where I could feel miserable and euphoric at the same time!  

AXS: You have a very large and loyal international fan base, who has supported you before, during and after your “X Factor UK” journey. What message would you like to send to them?

P: First, I’d like to send a message of gratitude! Second, I just want them to know it's all gonna make sense soon enough. I promise! Just keep trusting me!  

Listen to "Let It Shine" on Spotify below.

The “Let It Shine” original track (from Swishcraft Music) and remixes are available for purchase and streaming on all digital music platforms:

Juno 
iTunes
Amazon
Google

Follow Peyton on Twitter @Peytonsmusic and on Facebook. Visit Peyton's website at peytonmusic.com.
Follow Steven Redant on Twitter @stevenredant and on Facebook