Interview: Peyton talks bullying and shining a light with uplifting new single 'When They Go Low'
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Internationally-renowned dance artist and former “X Factor UK” contender Peyton’s electrifying new single, “When They Go Low,” officially drops on Nov. 19. The idea for the uplifting, inspirational anthem was sparked by Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s moving Democratic National Convention speech last year; particularly when she addressed bullying, saying, “How we explain, that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”  The timeless nature of her words made a deep impression on Peyton and its resounding positive message prompted him to write a song.

Though inspired by a political speech, the talented U.K.-based singer-songwriter isn’t seeking to make a political statement with “When They Go Low.” He’s hoping the song will project hope and light and send a positive, empowering message instead.

“When I watched Michelle Obama give that incredible speech, it literally brought me to tears. Her words spoke to all of us who at that time felt incredibly disheartened by the abysmal tone of the whole presidential election. These are pretty dark times all over the world,” Peyton told AXS in a recent exclusive interview. “I felt like her message transcended the politics of that specific chapter in American history and delivered a far-reaching, timeless message.”

The vibrant, visually dynamic video for “When They Go Low” was created by Peyton, Cathy McDougal of Rabbit Hole Group and animation designer Phil Bearman. The concept for it began when Peyton’s husband, Boris, noticed a pink flamingo pool float with its neck submerged. He told Peyton, “Look at that. That’s a great image for ‘When They Go Low.’”

The final product (which you can watch in the attached video above), is brilliantly crafted and executed. It’s filled with positive (and fun) cartoon images including a pool party featuring lots of famous peacekeepers and a protest rally with crowd members bearing signs boasting statements like, “Love is the Answer,” “Make Tea Not War” as well as silly expressions like “Stop Premature Christmas Decorating,” “I Was Told There Would be Cake,” and “Kiss my Grits” (for those Flo at “Mel’s Diner” fans!)

“I know the song is inevitably going to be politicized and there's nothing I can do about that. However, I have tried to ensure that the artwork and the video reflect my interpretation of her words by creating a funny, light-hearted, and exciting journey that gives the viewer a visual idea of what it must look and feel like to resonate on a higher frequency,” Peyton explained.

Given the recent rash of mass shootings and tragic deaths caused by multiple instances of vehicular-terrorism in the U.S., U.K., Jerusalem, France, Germany, Spain and beyond, a cloud of darkness arguably looms over many parts of the world. The resilience of the human spirit, however, remains strong and Peyton, who is a Virginia native that has lived in the U.K. for more than 20 years, is compelled to use his musical gifts and talents to combat oppression and celebrate the power of love, understanding, compassion and positivity.

Towards that end, and in honor of anti-bullying week in the U.K., Peyton created a special PSA video (which you can watch below) in partnership with  BullyingUK, a United Kingdom anti-bullying organization. Bullying remains a global problem that can have damaging and even fatal effects on bullying victims. According to a 2016 Ditch the Label national survey, 1.5 million young people were bullied in the U.K. that year, with 145,800 of those reporting being bullied every single day. These are staggering statistics – and only reflect U.K findings.

Fortunately, many schools around the world are adopting strong anti-bullying programs to combat the issue and help kids build a positive self-image and promote kindness. Students at Eureka Primary School in Australia have been using Peyton’s song and it’s fun, animated video as a positive communication tool. Knowing his song and video have made this kind of positive impact on these kids touched Peyton deeply.

“I wanted to create something accessible to kids, that would immediately kind of grab adults and children alike and be fun, be quick. I want to make a difference with my music and in my own tiny way change the world – change the world around me and spread some sort of message of love and hope,” Peyton said. “Sometimes I feel like music is the last bastion of hope that we have to hold onto and there’s really no greater sense of success as an artist than feeling like you’ve made some impact. That you’ve achieved some change or encouraged someone or moved someone.”

In the PSA, Peyton candidly admits he was severely bullied as a teen and sadly, he didn’t feel like he could ask anybody for help. He encourages viewers to start a dialogue about bullying, to stand up and “make sure that no kid in this world feels alone, or feels helpless, or defenseless.”

As an openly gay artist and strong LGBTQ advocate, Peyton is keenly aware this destructive, dangerous behavior is not restricted to targeting members of a single group or community. People are bullied for a myriad of reasons including race, religion, physical appearance, income bracket or in many cases, for no identifiable reason at all, maybe just for crossing a bully’s path at any particular moment in time. Therefore, he’s seeking to use his musical gifts and talent to be a light and an ambassador for love, kindness, and compassion and to take a stand to stop bullying.

Positivity and elevation of the human spirit have remained recurring themes in Peyton’s musical endeavors throughout his career, from his Top 100 UK Singles chart dance track, “A Higher Place,” to his indelible “X Factor UK” audition performance of “I’ll Rise.” This desire to move and uplift audiences sets Peyton apart in the dance-house music world. But, his raw, soul-stirring delivery, his extraordinary range and explosive vocal power and his ability to forge an emotional connection with his listeners arguably puts him on par with an elite group of artists across music history.

George Michael, Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Adele, and Stevie Wonder, offer strong examples of artists who embody a kind of fluid, soulful, spiritual connection to songs and an audience. Being a musical “vessel” is not a learned skill. It’s something that lies inherently within and separates “artists” from singers.

Peyton arguably possesses this rare, inherent musical quality and Simon Cowell instantly picked up on his natural gift during his stunning, emotionally-transcendent "X Factor" audition. Peyton’s global fan base was shocked when Sharon Osbourne ultimately eliminated him at Judges’ Houses on the series. But, Peyton used the experience and the exposure as a platform to spur him on toward completing work on his upcoming album titled, Sinners Got Soul Too.

“When They Go Low,” is the impending album’s anthemic lead single. Overall, the album marks a creative departure from the dance music world from which Peyton hails. Sinners Got Soul Too springs from his very personal, deep drive to impact hearts and make a positive difference. A new, stripped back version of “A Higher Place” will appear on the album, along with a breathtaking love song he wrote and sang to Boris at their wedding called “Be My Enough,” and much more.

When asked where he draws his inspiration and optimism from in what could arguably be described as dark and hopeless times for so many people, Peyton conveyed how his grandmother always told him “something good always comes from something bad.” He also said he's been moved by the way people are standing up in communities everywhere, banding together, and letting their voices be heard. That sense of shared faith in a brighter future boosts his spirit and compels him to move forward and lend his voice and his light to the world via his music.

“I've travelled extensively these last sixteen years and one thing I can report without hesitation, is that there are beautiful, generous, funny, bright, open-hearted and open-minded people all over this great big world, Peyton said. “They are everywhere. Even in the places you'd least expect to find them. The whole world is full of these human lights, shining out in the darkness and reminding us to hope. This is why we have to always try our best to let our little light shine, because by shining our light we inspire other people to shine theirs and little by little, all this light illuminates the space around us until darkness doesn't even have a chance.”

“When They Go Low” is available to stream on Soundcloud and Spotify. “Sinners Got Soul Too” will be released on February 9. Follow Peyton on Facebook and @Peytonsmusic on Twitter. Visit Peyton’s website and stay tuned to AXS for news, updates and information about Peyton.