Paige Talks Process Behind Her 'Always Growing' EP [Q&A]
Since Paige was 9, she's been a singer. Larger than life Disney Channel characters like Lizzie McGuire were her inspiration to share covers on her YouTube channel 'Paige's Space', where she gained thousands of viewers (including Billie Eilish, who shared one to her Instagram story), before switching to original song writing as she approached adulthood.
Writing songs is now a way of life for the 22-year-old. She's signed to Sony and just released her second EP Always Growing. Her debut major label single, 'Bloom', was released in late 2019 and led to a busy run of shows, sometimes playing to tens of thousands of people as she supported New Zealand mega-acts Drax Project and Six60. Here she shares the background to her start in music and how she grew into song writing while staying true to herself.
Ones to Watch: You started singing at a really young age, who or what made you want to start so young?
Paige: I used to watch a lot of Disney Channel as a kid. In the Lizzie McGuire movie, she sings this song at the end called 'What Dreams Are Made Of' and, when I was about 7, I performed it in front of my school. I guess that’s kind of what started it all. I've always been fascinated with the idea of music, and I wanted it to become a reality for me.
You picked up the guitar at a young age, was that a Lizzie McGuire influence too?
My grandad passed away when I was a baby and left my Dad a guitar, but nobody ever touched it. One day when I was about 9, I pulled it out and asked if I could start playing. The next day, I took a 'sick day' off school to teach myself. I became obsessed. I mainly taught myself through YouTube, then I did lessons for about a year after I got the hang of the basics.
And how did song writing come into your life?
I think I was just fascinated with songs and I really wanted to have my own. When I was 9, that's when I started playing guitar, so it was all coming together. Then I realised the stuff I really liked to sing about, and at 12 I started writing! Disney Channel definitely influences the music I like, the pop blended with heavy emotions, really corny songs.
The Billie Eilish re-share on Instagram in 2016 was a huge deal, do you remember where you were when that happened?
I was at university, studying music at the time. I was waiting in line for class and I kept seeing Billie liking a lot of my photos. Then my phone started vibrating heaps and I saw she re-shared one of the songs I wrote. You never think stuff like that really happens, and I was thinking 'Why did she do that? It's not that great of a song!'. It was so bizarre.
After that, did you feel a certain type of pressure to put something amazing out?
I felt highly pressured. I'd been waiting for attention from the music industry - at the time I was writing songs and putting them online but didn't know how to start, so I just thought 'hopefully someone will see me', then Billie re-shared it.
Now all these people were seeing me, and I didn't know what to do. It was stressful; I didn't get a lot of sleep that week. I actually got myself a manager that day, I was trying to be organized. I feel less pressure now because it's been a while but at the time it was stressful.
Your second EP Always Growing is out now, can you tell us about the recording process that went into it?
I recorded it with [songwriter] Josh Fountain, I brought him the song 'Waves' which I wrote nearly 3 years ago. It was so hard to finish, and he figured out how the production worked. We also wrote 'Hit and Run' and 'Bloom', actually every song but two we wrote together. We also wrote 'Yellow' which was interesting. That’s a very vulnerable song and we wrote it after meeting for just the second time.
It actually wasn't hard to make the songs - it was a fun process to create a body of work I'm really proud of. The EP is about my growth through mistakes I've made and moments I'm not the proudest of, every song speaks to me trying to grow through them. I also wanted to speak about things that matter to me like mental health, gay rights and owning your mistakes.
Given you started song-writing by yourself at such a young age, once you started to write with other people, what was the adaptation like?
I started writing with others once I got to university, I was very protective of my ideas and didn't want anyone else to have a say in my songs, I found it insulting. I was not good to work with for a while! Then I started writing more and getting used to it. I had a big ego, and I've realized that I'm not always right about everything! That's what writing with other people taught me. Luckily when I got put into rooms with writers like Josh, Djeisan [Suskov] and MAALA, I was ready to write.
Over the course of your career, you can see in your music and who you are online that you've stayed true to yourself. Did that become harder throughout your career?
I don't think it's hard for me to stay true to who I am, that's something I'm proud of. I've always been happy about being quite honest and real, not moulded into something people want me to be. I also have a really big family who keep my feet on the ground. At times it was hard to check in with myself though, particularly after the whole Billie Eilish thing. That was a very drastic thing in my life, I think because I've always liked my grounding.
Does that reflect in the artists you listen to?
Actually, no. Although I really admire Julia Michaels and the way she portrays her vulnerability and speaks her truth, I also like the bold and outrageous. Lady Gaga is my favorite! Miley Cyrus too. They're down to earth in their own way.
Yeah, I feel like Lady Gaga is just an exaggeration of who she is.
Which I love! I think the music I listen to is quite honest, I tend to be drawn to people personality wise. They don't mask anything. Maybe that's why I find it quite easy to be that way.
Over summer you had a few big shows with Drax Project and Six60, how was playing in front of tens of thousands of people?
I loved it! It was my first experience playing festivals, I had never even been to one before! At times though it was a bit discouraging only because you're the opening act and it can be kind of hard. You're aiming so high for things, but people aren't really listening to you sometimes. I learnt a lot from it.
Do you have any tricks to calm the nerves before shows?
I don't really get nervous; I get really excited! Me and my band members play tag, we stretch. I just have so much energy inside of me! Every summer I've either been working at Krispy Kreme or with my mum at the golf course, then this summer everything happened all at once!
Your live set-up has changed, you used to perform with your guitar, right?
I used to perform with my guitar a lot. I had a job singing at a bar where I sang every week. But I always did it with a guitar, never a band. When you play with a guitar you get used to the way you move, and without one I never knew what to do with my hands. Now I don't ever want to perform with a guitar again, I love to jump around! I love performing, it's probably the main reason I love making music - watching those Katy Perry and Justin Bieber documentaries, that's the goal for my career to have some really outrageous production. If I don't fly in a concert, it's career over!
Final question, who are your Ones to Watch?
I'm plugging Wells* intensely, he inspires me a lot. He's doing unique stuff, and people don't give him the time. I'm a big rap fan too, I'd love to work with Vayne, MELODOWNZ, Wax Mustang. I love Technicolour and Laiika too.