Electronic pop band Peakes met while at university in Leeds. Singer Molly Puckering and keyboard player Max Shirley had been sharing a house since their first year at college; the trio was completed “by accident” a year later when they found out new house mate Pete Redshaw played the drums.
“It did take us a while to actually get together and practice,” recalls Puckering. “I think we were all quite nervous and wanting to focus on ourselves. It took longer than you’d expect because we all lived together to get together and write, but after that we just kept on writing and rehearsing and then started gigging in summer 2016.”
For the first 18 months they concentrated on building their profile in Leeds but in recent months they’ve ventured to London for gigs in Dalston and Shoreditch; the first, in November, coincided with the release of an EP, Space. “We’re definitely starting to get more gigs outside Leeds and really enjoying playing around the country,” says Puckering.
Finding their own sound has been a gradual process. “When you start writing together it takes a while to understand what each person wants from the band,” the singer admits. “It definitely took us time to build the confidence to say ‘I want to sound like this, I want to do this, I want to do that’.”
Another catalyst was Shirley’s growing collection of synths. “That is when I got really excited about it because our songs started to sound unique,” says Puckering.
They all contribute to song writing. “Someone will have an idea, like Max will have a few chords or Pete will have a drumbeat and that inspires it but it’s definitely me and Max working together on the lyrics,” explains Puckering. “I might come up with the concept of the song but Max is very involved in shaping it. It’s definitely more of a collaborative thing with the lyrics.”
Thematically, Puckering says, “a lot of our songs are about exploring relationships”.
“Not mostly romantic, they’re about exploring how people interact. I think also a lot of our songs when I look back on them are about trying to understand what we’re doing. Being in our early 20s as well it’s a really important time for us developing and understanding where we’re going. A lot of our music is about that – trying to process and understand stuff and work out relationships with other people.”
Having recently had their song Saint remixed by Manchester DJ TD_Nasty, the band’s next step has involved working with Leeds-based producer Richard Formby. For Puckering, it’s “a dream come true” as Formby has previously worked with one of her favourite bands, Wild Beasts.
At present they’re concentrating on two tracks with Formby. Puckering adds: “We’re not ruling out doing any more with him in the future but at the moment we wanted to focus on getting two singles done.”
On February 2 Peakes play a gig organised by the city record label Come Play With Me at Hyde Park Book Club. It also features Park Fires and NALA. “They wanted to do – apart from Max and Pete – an all-female line-up which I loved and was really excited about,” says Puckering.
“By accident for our first headline show we ended up booking three bands who we love and are friends with in Leeds, they all had a female singer in and they were trios as well. We didn’t mean to do that but I think it’s going to be a theme when we try to play with women and try to encourage that.”
In May Peakes will play at Live At Leeds. “We’re so excited, we can’t wait,” says Puckering. “We go every year and get really excited when it comes round but to actually play it this year is amazing and the line-up’s really good as well. I’m excited top play but also selfishly to see all the other bands as well.”