“Things Happen For A Reason” Master Peace Interviewed

“Music is amazing and dangerous at the same time...”

Master Peace made his introduction to the Clash team like a sledgehammer going through a wall. We got the London artist down to play one of our parties, having heard a couple of demos. By the end, with sweat-drenched fans literally tumbling over his feet, the mic held aloft like the Jules Rimet trophy, we knew we’d met someone special. Yet it’s not been plane-sailing. The music industry is a tricky arena to navigate, and Master Peace took some time out to deal with behind-the-scenes chicanery. 

A matter of days ago, however, he made his return. Out now, ‘Peace Of Mind’ is a fantastic, thrilling, visceral EP, a blast of punk-drenched energy that simply refuses to cow-tow to outside expectations. “I’m buzzing!” he beams over the phone to Clash. “It’s been a long time coming.”

It certainly has. His first proper release for well over 12 months, ‘Peace Of Mind’ is a point of reintroduction. “I felt quite underrated for a while,” he comments. “I felt like people weren’t really taking me in as much. And I thought the best way for people to take me in was to just say what’s on my mind. It’s quite direct, it’s quite punchy. I just… stopped caring. And put what I actually wanted to the forefront.”

He’s got a point. British music seems particularly slow to give artist’s their flowers – just look at Little Simz’ come-up, for example. “I’ve been given my flowers from a lot of people I look up to,” he notes. “But if you look at the way music is at the moment – you’ve got Jersey Club, that fast DNB thing. It means that my music, people find it hard to take in.”

Master Peace has never sat in one lane, and that is particularly true of his latest EP. It’s undeniably indie – and certainly punk in ethos – but other elements creep in. In Britain we have this infuriating habit of pinning certain tags on artists, and this is particularly – sadly – prevalent for Black artists, and artists of colour more generally. Is Rachel Chinouriri an R&B singer? NO. Is Master Peace a rapper? NO.

“I feel like a white artist making this music would find it easier to be taken in. I’ve been stereotyped a lot. People would say: oh Master Peace, great rapper! I’ve never dropped a rap song in my life. It’ll come, though – it’s slow and steady.”

“The lead singer of easy life – would you call him a rapper? Probably not. But on every song, he more or less raps. People are judging with their eyes, and not their ears. If you look at my Spotify, there’s not one rap song on there. It’s alternative, it’s indie.”

“I’ve never really been one to complain… I just got on with it,” he reflects. “Making this EP, though, I found myself in the mood to complain! So I didn’t hold back. I dealt with everything that’s happened to me as a young Black artist. I just said my shit.”

Laughing he adds: “I don’t care if people like the music, or like the song. If they do, then they do. When you let go of that feeling, that’s when it starts to work. And you’ll feel when it starts to happen.”

‘Country Life’ was first song written for the EP, and it opens the project in a blaze of colour. “At first I was like… ooh, this is out-there! I was afraid of how people would receive it. But I can’t feel like that. It’s gonna hit home. Even if people hate it… at least I did that from myself.”

EP highlight ‘Veronica’ was largely one-take, the work of someone moving with momentum. “It’s mad because I never do that,” he laughs. “I’m very precious about my music. But the mindset I was in at the time… I just didn’t care. What you hear is what we did.”

“You’ve got to care about the art,” he says. “But I got to a stage where I thought… people don’t give a shit about the art. A lot of it just feels like trends. The way music has gone is sad – it’s service, it’s all taken in. People don’t care.”

One long belch of frustration, ‘Peace Of Mind’ resulted in a cathartic emptiness in its maker. When he’d said what needed to be said, Master Peace was able to rest; the EP title is apt, after all. “It was like a therapy session, I would say. It’s me saying: I’m only human, like everyone else. Don’t be like me, because I don’t want to be like me, sometimes… be yourself.”

During our conversation he seems completely at ease with himself. The chat flits between DIY work and his touring plans, with Master Peace waxing lyrical on any topics that captures his imagination. “This is the most relaxed and in-depth project I’ve ever made. I’d always spoken about relationships, and stuff like that. But I’d never spoken about myself, and my own shortcomings… and I feel like on this EP I finally have.”

“Music is amazing and dangerous at the same time,” he adds. “It can make you do anything. It can make you be serious about your life, and go and do something amazing. It’s this powerful thing – it’s therapeutic.”

The process of crafting this EP, it seems, has brought Master Peace closer to his true self than ever before. “I really understand the music I’m trying to make more than ever before. I just finished making my debut album, and I took it over to a friend’s place so they could listen to it. It feels complete. I understand what I need to do.”

“I used to be someone who over-thinks… and I still do,” he says. “But I don’t regret anything. I feel like everything has to happen the way it happens for me to get here. It’s all coming together. It all makes sense. I was always going to end up here. Things happen for a reason.”

“I believe in my fate,” he finishes. “And I know what we’re trying to do here. I think a lot about longevity… and nothing good comes easy.”

Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Ewen Spencer

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