Molly Payton

  • Date: Wed 4th September 2024
  • Doors Open: 7:00 pm
  • Supported By: TBC
  • On Sale: Tickets Open

It’s easy to make Molly Payton’s life sound like a musical fairytale, albeit a grungy one. At sixteen, she moved to London from her home country of New Zealand. Beaches were traded for pints and late night tube rides, and she soon fell in with a crew now headlining major festivals and producing acclaimed albums – the likes of Oscar Lang, who helped Molly make her first tracks in high school, and a then-undiscovered Beabadoobee.


A force in her own right, Molly soon carved out a distinct sound that excels in dualities. Across three EPs and a mini-album, her music spans from heavy alternative-rock to melancholic ballads. Her voice is as powerful quiet as it is in a raw belt, her lyrics as vulnerable as they are wryly funny. It’s an output as prolific as it is impressive, one that’s seen Molly play festivals including Pitchfork Paris, Primavera, Laneway and SXSW Australia, as well as support artists such as Beabadoobee, Arlo Parks, Alex G and Tom Odell.


While it may sound like a linear ride on paper, after spending five years navigating the instability of a Covid-stricken music industry, Molly found herself back in New Zealand at the start of 2023 – without a label or management. Still only 21, and lacking support, funding, and a clear path to follow, she knew that she had to work twice as hard to keep things moving. “I needed that fear I was going to lose my music career to make me push even harder,” she says.


Crucially, this gave Molly the chance to be fully in the driving seat of her career. Getting into the music industry so young meant Molly hadn’t experienced that level of ownership over her work yet – she’d spent years being surrounded by people wearing the hats before she’d had a chance to try them on herself. “I didn’t even know how to tell people what I wanted, and I wasn’t confident enough to ask questions and learn,” she says of the time.


When she set to work on her upcoming project, Molly was present in every aspect she’d shied away from before, from production to visuals to mixing. As well as guaranteeing she got exactly what she wanted, this gave Molly a new sense of confidence. One that’s allowed her to tread new lyrical ground – the project deals with deeply personal subject matter she hasn’t been able to share in the past. For the first time, she’s co-produced the project, alongside longtime friend and collaborator Oscar Lang. Together they’ve gone back to a more DIY sound, recording in childhood bedrooms and studios where they could score mates’ rates. “I’ve recorded in expensive studios on past projects, and I do feel like the music loses some of its vibe when it’s all perfect and everything sounds really nice. And also I have no money,” she laughs.


That’s because she’s poured it all into her music (and the odd hair dye, as a treat). Without a label to bankroll her, Molly picked up a day job to help pay for the project, working 5 days a week and fitting recording around it. Besides giving her the sense of stability she’s been lacking for the past five years, it’s importantly allowed her to start creating for the right reasons again. “This job’s been the best thing ever, because now I’m not doing music to make money, I’m doing it because I love it and because I want to express myself,” she says.


Not relying on music to pay the rent has also given Molly total creative freedom. Asphalt, the first track of her new project, is a case in point. Where most lead singles try to entice people in with hooks and heavy hitters, Molly chose Asphalt – a piercing slowburn. “I picked it to be the first single and shot the music video before I met my new management or a label,” she says, “because I knew no one would want me to make it a first single.” It’s brutal (and beautiful) in its simplicity. Just two chords, four verses, the same melody on loop, experimental production slowly crescendoing throughout. ‘I haven’t been sleeping’ are the opening lyrics, and the track evokes exactly that – all the thoughts running through your brain when you put head to pillow, the ones that have you in a chokehold while you try to get some rest.


The music video cuts equally as deep. A metaphor for the industry, it depicts what happens when the cameras stop rolling and the lights turn off. “Music videos used to be my least favourite part of the process,” she says. “Whenever I watched one of my videos back for the first time I’d cry. I never felt like people got who I was, but that’s because I didn’t involve myself enough in the creative side of making visuals.” This time it’s a different story. Molly came up with the idea herself, developed and shot it with frequent collaborators Oscar Keys and Damin McCabe, and had a hand in the entire process.


The result is something she can stand by, and the same can be said for the rest of her upcoming project. “It’s made me realise how capable I am,” Molly says of the decision to do things on her own terms. “I’m finally backing myself.” No doubt when it drops, there will be many, many other people backing her too.

Molly Payton ON SPOTIFY


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