They say you can tell a lot about someone by the way they talk about their mom. And just a few minutes into our conversation with Payton Moormeier, it becomes crystal clear that he’s not just a prolific producer and songwriter; he’s also a genuinely kind and humble guy. When asked about his stratospheric rise on social media, he replies, “It just kind of happened. My mom first noticed it. She raised me; it was just me and her. She was a little stunned by it, but she was really supportive. She’s the best.”
It was his mom, Joanne, in fact, who bought Payton his first guitar when he was only seven years old. Payton would spend hours on the computer, not playing video games, but teaching himself how to play guitar by studying tutorials on YouTube. And soon enough, he started writing his own songs. “I was nine or ten and writing songs about crushes I’d have,” he laughs. “Or I’d be singing in the shower and [think of something and] sing it in my head until I could go write it down.”
At 12, Payton posted his very first cover on YouTube: Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” His rendition racked up close to one million views on the platform, but for years, he struggled with the idea of releasing his own original music. “I was really self-conscious about it for a while,” he explains. “I didn’t know how people were going to react to it.”
That all changed when Payton started hitting the recording studio, creating songs, and mixing on production software. “I felt a strong passion for it,” he says. ” I was like, ‘Okay, I can’t not do this.’” And for someone whose every move is scrutinized by millions on social media, the studio soon became Payton’s sanctuary. “I’m with people who are there to watch me make something,” he says. “I could say really sad stuff in the studio and just write about it, and no one’s judging me for it.”
Payton did just that on his first two releases, “Love Letter” and “Habits,” which were both inspired by the same breakup. “I was in this relationship and it was kind of my first good relationship,” he explains. “I was really into it and then it just ended out of nowhere. I never got answers, so I had a lot of leftover feelings and emotions. I went into the studio and ‘Love Letter’ came into my head and I made the beat.”
Both songs have amassed millions of streams and just last week, he signed with powerhouse agency, UTA, whose artist roster includes the Jonas Brothers and Post Malone. Needless to say, Payton’s come a long way from the shy kid he once was growing up in North Carolina.
“When I first started, I didn’t think I would end up in LA following my dreams and doing everything that I want to do,” he says. “A lot of people in my hometown were weird about it, but you’ve just got to think of the end goal. If it’s something that you’re really passionate about, don’t worry about what’s going on right now. Things take time and nothing happens overnight, so you’ve always got to put in the work. Stick to it and just keep going. Think of the end goal and don’t stop.”
Creative Direction & Interview by Natasha Dye
Story by Colleen Broomall
Photos by Joe Magnani of JSquared Photography
Video by Nicolas Wendl
Special thanks to Bobby Kalton of 513 Entertainment & Nick Ponisi at Press Here Publicity
Come back Friday, July 31, to see how you can win this ukulele signed by Payton!