WORDS RACHEL EDWARDS - PHOTOGRAPHY EVA PENTEL
Pixey is a bit like a Powerpuff Girl. Her eyes are big, it's likely that she hasn’t worn monochrome in her life and even likelier that she has superpowers. After a near death experience in 2016 the Liverpudlian singer songwriter literally decided overnight to ‘try it at the whole music thing’. Flash forward two years and a lot of hard work later and here she is playing her first live show in London after being picked up by BBC Introducing.
On the surface she’s so confident that it’s hard to believe that her crippling shyness saw her nearly back out of her school play - a shyness that might just have been her superpower. Afraid of working in a studio or sharing her writing with anyone there was only one other option - she’d have to do it all herself. She set herself up as a one-man band and began writing, producing and playing in the safe sanctuary of her room. It wasn’t long until she was making a name for herself around the world (how many people can tell you that a stranger named their baby after them?). Still incredibly humble and on a mission to inspire other women to take risks, Pixey acts as a stark reminder that time is precious and now is as good a time as ever to take a chance and turn your ‘weakness’ into your biggest strength!
Rachel Edwards: Do you remember the first time you played live?
Pixey: (Laughs) Yeah, it was really funny. I was basically in a place which is now closed called ‘The Zanzibar’ in Liverpool and it was owned by Tony Butler, he was such a nice fella. But it was so nerve wracking that I was sick before I went on stage… and there were literally five people there! I was shaking like a leaf and I had this little band with me who then played with me for a while, but yeah as Pixey that was the first time I played to an audience.
R.E: Do you still get scared now?
P: I still suffer from stage fright but it’s definitely manageable now. I think most people get nervous before they go on stage but stage fright is pretty terrifying because you seize up. This is only my third gig with my new band but we’ve rehearsed it to within an inch of our lives so that helps!
R.E: And you must have the exciting side of adrenaline as well?
P: That is what overrides it. Once the adrenaline kicks in you just enjoy it. When I’m jumping around it’s so therapeutic I don’t get scared at all.
R.E: I imagine you just get lost in it! Do you have any pre-show rituals?
P: Yeah! Not right now cos I’m not in my flat but because I’ve only ever played in Liverpool but I usually do laps of my flat just running around to burn off that excess adrenaline.
R.E: (Laughs) Like an excited puppy running around before going on a walk?
P: (Laughs) Exactly! And then I do my vocal warm up.
R.E: What song are you most excited to perform tonight?
P: Probably ‘Just Move’. That’s the one I’m really excited about - I love the fact that it has seemed to take off recently. The other day was the first time I’ve ever heard lyrics being sung back at me which was just bizarre.
R.E: Has anyone got your lyrics tattooed yet?
P: No but somebody named their baby after me! His name was Derek and I think he lives in Nigeria and he sent me this amazing message with the birth certificate. That is nuts - there’s a little baby Pixey somewhere in the world.
R.E: (Laughs) That is crazy because you know she’s always going to tell that story… And one day she’ll probably meet you, it’ll be her 18th birthday and you’ll play live…. Ok I’m getting carried away. What’s one thing you always want in your dressing room before a show?
P: Probably peanuts or crisps. One of the simple pleasures!
R.E: I love peanuts too - nothing worse than when you can’t open them on a long-haul flight because someone has an allergy. So you exude confidence both in real life and on social media but were you always confident as a child?
P: Oh my god this is the funniest thing about where I am now because always as a child I was so painfully shy. I was known for being that kid who wouldn’t say anything and would just stand behind my mum. Even into my late teens and early 20s to be honest - in college I didn’t speak to anybody, I was super introverted and I sort of became more relaxed and confident when I started making music. I felt really accepted and I enjoy the fact that I could write this stuff and people enjoyed it, it was weird because at that point people were talking to me all the time and I was like ‘aw shit I gotta speak now’.
R.E: And I read that you had a near death experience - if it wasn’t for this do you think you would have taken the plunge and gone for it with music?
P: Not at all, I definitely wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for that. My stage fright was so crippling, my knees used to knock and I used to sweat and vomit before going on stage. Even tiny things like a school play!
R.E: Wow! I suppose exposure therapy is the only way...
P: Yeah it’s a learned thing. Learning to perform and speak to people and be confident in myself and my music was totally a learned thing, it wasn’t a natural thing. Like a lot of people it was easy to be self-degrading or critical of myself when I was around people. I’m a huge over-thinker, I always think I’ve said the wrong thing! But at the end of the day people don’t care as much as you think and it’s better to be confident with it than to be terrified of it.
R.E: And you sing about California, you look very LA...would you move there at some point?
P: (Laughs) Oh my goodness I was literally talking to someone about this the other day, I was like ‘Oh I would love to move there’. That would be so cool. I’ve never been to America. They wouldn’t understand my Liverpool accent!
R.E: I can picture you there so much! I’ve heard that if you’re musical you pick up on accents so much faster than non-musically talented people.
P: (Laughs) I love the Irish accent so maybe I’ll move to Dublin!
R.E: And what advice would you give to women starting out in the music industry?
P: This question is something I’m so passionate about because when I started out I was so nervous, terrified, intimidated. It’s really overwhelming at times, it’s so male dominated. That’s why I started with production because going into a studio terrified me. The thought of being in a room with a strange person I didn’t know and having to be open about my emotions and my writing. I would say don’t be afraid to start from scratch. Just because it’s going to take you a couple of years to get there, you’ve got to be patient with it and stick at it and don’t let people intimidate or bully you into doing it their way. I was thrown into the studio really early on and it just wasn’t for me. I like being in the studio sometimes now but having the power to record all my own instruments , produce it all, it’s just so empowering.
R.E: That is really amazing advice. You don’t have to go down this traditional route, you don’t have to stick to the rules, you can still make it by doing it your own way.
P: It’s so true and it’s really exciting. You can learn so much from meeting different people. And studio is a fine experience when you’re confident but as you start out just don’t be afraid to do whatever you want.
R.E: And in ‘Electric dream’ you touch on love in the digital age - do you use dating apps?
P: (Laughs) No, err I did once, but then I just met up with someone I knew already so it was one of those! That terrifies me, I’m super nervous on dates and things so oh if I met someone I didn’t know I’d be a wreck! I don’t use dating apps also cos I got a fella - he’d kill me if I was just casually on a dating app!
R.E: (Laughs) Imagine if you said yes and he found out by reading this, we could cause some drama!
P: (Laughs) That would be some spicy content.
R.E: What’s your most played on Spotify right now?
P: Oh it’s probably one of the ‘Noizy’ songs - what they’re making is so exciting. I love that 90s Fatboy Slim meets Prodigy kind of stuff.
R.E: What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not making music?
P: Oh go out and eat. I love to eat. I’m obsessed with Japanese food. I literally have the same dinner every night - I eat 5 fried gyozas every night!
RE: Morrisons frozen section do a good gyoza... On that note, good luck for tonight!