On a sunny day in June, in the "bait" surroundings of Boxpark Shoreditch sit myself and Laura Pegler; better known as Peggy (a childhood nickname which has now become synonymous with her current endeavours). Peggy likes to keep herself busy helping to promote up and coming talent, from online interviews with soon-to-be chart topper Zak Abel to putting on events which act as a showcase for an eclectic group of artists. The latter comes in the form of a monthly residency at The Hoxton known as Peggy's Big Sunday, for which there is no charge to attend *eye emoji*
Continuing our series on Women in Music (read the first one here with ladies of Time of the Month), we spoke to Peggy about her hopes for the future and as time went on, one thing became clear: it's Peggy's World and we're all just living in it.
Talking about MCing for Sofar, meeting Normanton Street and he started QM records.
Your Insta bio describes you as a "London based MC / Presenter / Promoter, always on the scout for fresh sounds and a Big Day Out." A triple threat; how did this journey begin?
I started MC’ing initially with Sofar Sounds which are living room gigs. But that’s a very different kind of MC’ing to the gigs I do now. I was at a gig with Ned (of Normanton Street) in Camden, and he actually suggested to put on a gig called “Peggy’s Big Day Out”. I thought it was a good idea so started doing MC’ing for live gigs; but as this was when I was still at uni, it was a side hustle. Then we started doing Peggy’s World on my (Youtube) channel, like interviewing artists in silly places; we’ve been rowing, played tennis, climbed trees - because, why sit down when you can climb a tree in an interview? Just making artists feel like they can sit down and have a fun time. Disclaimer: this is not me saying I hate all interviews but a lot of interviews can be the standard corporate questions. Visually it’s not that great and sometimes you don’t always get the best from the artist. So I kinda ask them: is there anywhere ridiculous you’d like to be interviewed? And we make it happen, have a bit fun; like bringing back music tv.
Are the artists quite receptive to the type of interviews you do?
Yeah definitely. I remember when I interviewed Zak Abel for In Sound State in aid of Mind Mental Health Charity he was performing at this event and I was running it. He was just about to jump on stage and I was like, let’s do the interview now. It was just a bit of fun, we just started playing air ping pong for no reason.
Another one I did was with AKA George and this was one of my favourites for sure. When I first met him, I was like wow, you’re so long-limbed. He had the most insane amount of energy it was great. So I was like: I just want to put you in a tree.
That’s the presenting side of things which I’d love to focus on more.
You currently host a Big Day Out on the first Sunday of each month in London to showcase up and coming talent. Tell us more about this.
So this is at Hoxton on the first Sunday of every month (get yourselves down there). I work with QM Records on this event, they’re from Brighton and I’m from London. This is very stereotypical, but I find in London people have an incredible work ethic and what you get in Brighton is an amazing pool of energy and talent. It’s great to bring that all together. Let me explain it this way: everyone loves a festival. And when you go to one, you don’t necessarily know every artist there: you go to explore. So with us, as long as they’re good, we will have an artist or band on stage. We’re also all about how an evening flows.
Why is it important to you that this event takes place?
I just like fun and I want everyone to be happy; my most favourite thing in the world is MCing and music. So to be able to help people out that need that platform but also put my favourite artists on a stage, be able to MC, and put on a great gig in the exact kind of environment that I like, it’s just great - I’m so lucky.
"I think confidence is a huge thing. You just need to have the balls to go up to someone that you want to work with and say: hi, this is me, this is what I do and go from there."
This is currently being held for free, why is it important to you to not have a price right now?
I think for this, we like it being a free event because anyone can come. It’s kinda like: here’s what’s out at the minute: come check. So that’s my premise.
What do you think of the London music scene right now? (Is it quite influenced by international artists or has it got its own particular sound?)
I think London is split up into the various genres. I’m not sure that they merge necessarily. Take the rock n roll scene for example, everyone’s work ethic is so good. That’s one scene and then London also has an incredible funk and soul scene and a jazz scene too. But everyone kinda wants to help each other out. Who you know can definitely help you out but it does not mean to say that it is cut off to anyone.
So when I first started, I didn’t have any contacts in music at all. I think confidence is a huge thing. You just need to have the balls to go up to someone that you want to work with and say: hi, this is me, this is what I doand go from there. Once you work with someone, you just turn out to be mates and everyone just helps each other out. It’s a nice, healthy way of working.
You've MC'd for Sofar Sounds, how important are initiatives like Sofar in helping to nurture talent and get them out there?
I think it’s really important because when it was started back in 2009, they were tired of people going to a gig and not listening, taking videos of the whole event etc. So by putting it on in a living room, again it puts focus on the event as a whole.
It’s really great for the artist to have people who may have never heard them play before, have a full room that they have had to do no promotion for and they all have to listen to you. Whether they like it or not. Yeah, it’s just a really nice way of trying to help each other out; it’s a lovely setting. I think the attentive mindset is transferring into the main music stream.
You’ve taken the Big Day Out to Brighton, have you had a chance to explore the music in any other cities in the UK?
We’ve been doing this for a year so it’s about not running before you can walk. So now we can walk, I want to start jogging. It would be great to do stuff in Manchester because I’m from the North-West; but that’s a long way off now. I think it would be important to keep trying to solidify Peggy’s World as a brand.
What is Big Day Out’s affiliation to QM Records?
QM Records are a Brighton-based record label and promotions company. They promote so heavily in Brighton like 3 shows a week. And they have so many different projects on-the-go. They’re so amazing and have helped me out so much.
What kind of music do you listen to and who are the artists you’re really excited about now?
I’d say AKA George - he’s kinda like EDM vibes. He is great and has a lot of energy.
There’s a lovely girl who was actually at my first show in July last year called Bess Atwell. It can be a room full of loud and rowdy people and she can silence the room by just singing. Also, Milly Upton - she is wonderful, she again has the most gorgeous voice and incredible lyrics; she really tells a story. It’s not the usual kind of heartbreak thing; she has some really interesting stimuli behind her work. And finally, Will Heard - he is a top musician.
Other musicians to big up: The Caress - I’m excited for them; I just discovered them on Soundcloud.
Do you think there is money in music today?
I think, if you do it the right way, there definitely is. It takes a while.
Do you feel like the definition of success has changed in music today? Success used to be selling millions of records and getting airplay. But today, you can have someone on Spotify with millions of plays who is not played on the radio; are there multiple avenues to success now?
I think it has become a lot more ‘muddied’. In that sense I think it is a good thing that it is muddied in that you don’t just have to be signed to have loads of money pumped into you to see what happens. You can still be successful going down the independent route and making it for yourself. When do you even become ‘successful?’ For example, likes on Facebook may not equate to who turns up. I’ve noticed that a lot with putting on gigs that, some artists with huge followings online don’t really have that many of their followers at their gigs. On the other hand, artists with smaller followings invite everyone and get loads of people down to their gigs. i.e a more loyal fanbase.
Finally, what does success mean specifically to you?
I would just love to promote bands that I want, in all the venues that I want, to be able to MC at all the events, MC at festivals. Do you remember T4? I would love to be that kind of presenter. And then also still having my own brand. And just everyone enjoying it; what’s the point in doing it if people don’t enjoy (doing) it? To me that is success.
A huge thanks to Peggy for sitting down with us to chat. Be sure to check out some of her upcoming shows and follow her on her socials below:
'Peggy's Big Sunday' @ Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, Sun 5th Nov. (first Sunday's of every month)
'In Sound State' (in aid of Mind Mental Health charity) @ Kamio, Wed 29th Nov.