Master Peace: the singer-songwriter making indie fun again
Peace Okezie’s infectious energy could convert the most die-hard techno fan to guitar music
words Megan Wallace
To celebrate our first birthday, woo has curated a list of our ones. The people in our wooniverse who are redefining fashion, music, clubs, culture and much more.
It’s a bright Friday afternoon and Master Peace (aka Peace Okezie) is going a million miles a minute: catching up over a grainy video call, he’s speed-walking through the London Underground on his way to the airport. But while his faltering wifi connection frequently stutters to a pause or cuts out completely, these logistical issues fail to dim his shine. In conversation he’s charismatic, quick and brimming with star power.
What else would you expect from this rising face of British indie? Rejecting the poe-faced cool of guitar darlings dreaming of Mercury Prize nods and chin-stroking Guardian profiles, he’s got his sights set on a much more ambitious goal: number one singles and bonafide rock stardom, taking inspiration from the golden age of indie when Klaxons, Bloc Party and LCD Soundsystem dominated both the charts and the dancefloor.
And his formula for reaching these halcyon heights couldn’t be simpler: talent, verve and lots of hours in the studio. Oh, and there’s the bonus that he boasts the cheeky grin of a Gallagher brother (on a good day), an infectious stage presence and a flair for off-kilter, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
Having recently dropped his aptly named Peace of Mind EP and sold out Shoreditch’s XOYO, he’s now readying to begin the rollout of his debut album – his most ambitious project to date and a big-swing statement of intent about the kind of artist he wants to be.
Describe what you do in your own words.
I would describe my music as alternative indie, so a lot of influences from LCD Soundsystem, Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party.
And how would you describe what you do to a date?
I just make music really, to make people happy and whatnot.
How did you get into your chosen career?
I started writing as a teenager because I struggled with ADHD in education and with concentration and hated school. My key worker was always like, “Oh, why don't you write down how you're feeling?” And I kind of liked the way Dan from Bastille used to sing, he sounded British and authentic and I realised if I ever I wanted to sing I’d do it in that kind of pocket. That’s how I went about it.
Are there any upcoming projects we should look out for?
My album, we're dropping singles really soon. But nobody knows that yet. I'm really confident about it.
What’s one thing you'd like to see change in the world? And is there anything you do that you think helps that change along?
Just giving young people more opportunity. In London and the UK, there’s not really much opportunity – there’s always some sort of issue and it’s hard for young people to get our heads around that. Especially in school. They teach us so much bullshit, but they don't actually teach us how to do taxes. For myself, having my disability [ADHD] I feel like it helps [other] people feel like they can do stuff, you know.
What's the one thing in your career you're most proud of?
I don't know, I never really got a chance to kind of stop and look back. I’m always active, on the move, and I never really know what's going on. As of recently, I’d probably say selling out my headline show at XOYO, I only had a month to sell it out. I was really worried but in the end it ended up being very loud, rocking out like crazy.
And what's one thing you would do if you were Prime Minister for the day?
Well, I think it’s crazy that anyone could have that much power. You're always gonna upset someone, someone's always gonna be sad, right? Like, whatever you do some people will be like, “he’s amazing” and the other half will be like, “no, he’s shit”. I wouldn’t want that power. But if I did, I'm a people pleaser so I’d do whatever the people want.
Is there any one thing you do on the regular to take care of your mental health?
I binge watch a lot of telly and a lot of like gangster films as well, like Goodfellas. I just find them intriguing. My life is very straight and narrow but their life… I don't know, it gives me a sense of like, “Alright, I'm doing alright in life. Other people just go through a madness really.” I find solace in it.
What's one lesson that changed your life?
People are afraid of what they don't know. I felt like that a lot in my career, especially when I started. When I start making indie guitar music, people didn’t understand. I remember one of my friends at the time was like, “Don't do this. Trust me, man, it ain't gonna work.” Fast forward three, four years later and apparently the same guy saw one of my other friends and said, “I'm not gonna lie, I feel like back in the day. I didn't believe in what Peace wanted to do. And now I'm seeing it with my own eyes, I think maybe I was just narrow-minded at the time." In my life, I've questioned a lot whether I'm doing the right thing or I'm going about things the right way. But when full circle moments happen I realise that yeah, maybe I'm doing the right thing.
How about one moment in your career that you will cherish forever?
Nothing's more significant than any other thing. All of them have some special meaning in some way, shape, or form, you know, and they all get cherished in some way.
What's one thing you want to achieve in the next year?
To be a massive rockstar. Only that really.
If you had a number one song, what would it sound like?
It's called "Might be Fake”. I'm calling it now. It's on my debut album and if it’s not a top 10 song or a number one song, then I don't know what I'm doing and I have no idea about music. That's all I can say to you, so trust me that when you hear the song you’ll understand what I’m saying.
Who's your number one fan?
I’d probably say myself because, I’m not gonna lie, I love my shit.
And who's number one on your speed dial?
My mum, I'm a mama's boy. She’s number one on speed dial just in case I'm so excited about something or something's going wrong.
Name one person who's killing the game right now.
I'm not gonna say me because that's just a bit narcissistic. Who’s killing the game…? Oh, there's a guy from America. Right, he's called The Dare and he's someone that I'm really into right now. He’s in the New York scene and makes music similar to mine, indie dance, and he's having a little moment over there. I feel like we’re at similar levels in our career. I've actually never met him face to face but I've spoken to him over DM a few times.
What's one piece of clothing you can't live without?
It’s the durag. It’s the signature. With it, I’m Master Peace and without it I’m just Peace, which is cool – I think he’s even more wicked than Master Peace. But we’re playing a character essentially, like you don’t have Superman without the cape.
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