Long Way to the Top
As the saying goes, it takes a long time to become an overnight success, and none know this more than Yorkshire born singer/songwriter/actor, Heather Peace. Rachel Cook spoke to Peace about her new album, starring on the UK’s Lip Service and her upcoming Australian tour.
For Heather Peace it seems slightly odd that most people know her for her role in the BBC series Lip Service. The show which was billed as the UK’s answer to The L Word, exceeded expectations when it was not only a hit in its home country but also in the international market.
Peace played Detective Sergeant Sam Murray whose ill-fated relationship with Cat MacKenzie was one of the focal points of the show. The show which portrayed the lives of a group of lesbians living in Glasgow was heralded by The Guardian’s Claudia Cahalane as “hugely significant” for its normalising of lesbian relationships.
“It was a progression from The L Word,” Peace tells SX.
“You could take the script from Lip Service and apply it to gay men or straight couples and that same story would still translate, unlike The L Word which was very plot driven, it was ‘this is lesbians having a baby’, ‘this is lesbians getting married’. And I think the best thing for me was the amount of straight fans that lips service had.”
However, Peace has not only had a 16-year career acting in television series and on stage, but she has also been performing as a musician for most of her life.
Twelve years ago it looked as if Peace was set to hit the heights of musical stardom when she signed to major label, BMG. However, their cookie-cutter style of music production was not for Peace and before long the two parted ways.
“BMG, which at the time, was run by a certain Simon Cowell, didn’t really pan out for me because all they were wanting me to do was covers,” Peace says.
“It was at a time when the big companies very much controlled what you did. There was one time when I was asked to do a breakfast TV show and I had to mime, and bedsides the fact that miming is a skill which I just don’t have, I’m just uncomfortable with the whole process.
“I just made a decision that I’d rather not be known for music at all than be known for what they are asking me to do and I think had that have happened I would never have built up a credibility again really.”
The three seasons Lip Service ran for garnered Peace a loyal following. This new audience has been part of Peace’s successful return to music. Peace is classically trained in piano, grew up performing in musical theatre, has had a successful run as a jazz singer and has gigged consistently throughout her life.
Peace wrote and produced all the tracks on her latest album, Fairytales. The album comes out of a “dark period” in Peace’s life where she says she had lost all direction. The subject of relationship breakdowns is explored with Peace drawing heavily on that time.
“The lyrics stem from not quite a good period in my life,” Peace says. “I was not in such a great relationship, I was not working so much. It very, very much was a kind of a therapy to write it.”
Perhaps because of her prolificness in the past, the cliché of not being able to create in a happy space did not escape Peace.
“I’m at a really happy point in my life now and I worry about not being able to write,” Peace says, “but I’m really pleased with the stuff that’s coming out because I’m taking inspiration from other places.
“I might read a poem and there will be something in it. It helps being an actor because I always see a scenario, so there is a story to it.”
While Peace has never performed in Australia before, past relationships have seen her hit our shores numerous times.
“This will be my fourth or fifth time to Australia,” Peace says. “I dated an Aussie girl for about seven years, she lived over here [UK] but her family is in Australia and we’d visit.
“And before that I’d been out with a girl whose brother lived in Sydney, so now I have really good friends in Sydney and family in Melbourne. My mother’s cousin is out there.
“I love it. I think the people are very similar to Yorkshire people - they say it how it is. I can’t wait to get back out. I’m absolutely stoked.”
Heather Peace 2013 Australia Tour
February 10 – Mardi Gras – Sydney
February 15 – Mardi Gras – Sydney
February 16 - Notes Live – Sydney
February 17 - The Cavern- Adelaide
February 21 - Northcote Social Club – Melbourne
February 22 - The Palais – Hepburn Springs
February 23 - The Loft – Chevron Island - Gold Coast
February 24 - Black Bear Lodge – Brisbane
Details at www.heatherpeace.com.