“Like, what kind of f*cking person was I… I had one shoe on, like, ‘I'm not gonna lose this man.’ I'm like, Oh my God, all of that for what?"
Peach PRC, real name Shaylee Jade Curnow, has experienced the kind of upward trajectory any musician dreams of.
From releasing her breakthrough single, Josh, in February 2021 (which followed her first two singles, Blonde and Colourblind, in 2020) to now, Curnow has found a remarkable number of followers on TikTok and other social media platforms, building a fanbase of fairies in pink-laden outfits.
Of course, the kind of rapid success and recognition Curnow has experienced comes with its drawbacks: Josh, written about a real person who she was close with after the song’s release, couldn’t get in the car without hearing his ex-girlfriend’s song on the radio. On Peach PRC’s debut EP, Manic Dream Pixie, out tomorrow, Curnow has issued an apology song of sorts to Josh.
On Favourite Person, she sings, “I couldn't take it being hated by my favourite person,” and the way she delivers that line is one of many moments of lyrical perfection on the EP. “That song, interestingly was an apology song to Josh, after I wrote Josh,” she shares.
It’s been a busy time for Curnow – this is the second time we’ve had a chat over Zoom in the lead up to Manic Dream Pixie, and this time around, she’s been busy “shooting a little sneaky project” that she can’t talk about just yet.
She continues, “We were like high school sweethearts. We were on and off for like 10 years, and we were kids when I wrote that song about him. Josh is about one of our breakups – I wasn't signed yet, I didn't really have a following, it was just on my guitar on my spam account.”
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The couple had a fight, and Curnow admits that she doesn’t think the song was all that harsh, “maybe because I've been in that relationship with him for so long, I've probably said harsher things,” she laughs.
Josh was a sort of reboot or reintroduction for Peach PRC – it was marketed as her first single and kickstarted her entire musical career. “I felt really bad, because we ended up getting back together after that song,” Curnow admits. “I didn't tell anyone that because I could just tell people were gonna kill me [laughs]. But we briefly got back together, but he had to keep hearing the song and I had to keep promoting it.
“I think I wrote it because I was so hurt by him because I thought I loved him so much, as a person. Looking back, obviously, I’ve come out as a lesbian,” Curnow adds, realising that her love for the real-life Josh was a platonic kind of love – he felt like family; they grew up together.
“I felt like he was my favourite person. Not somebody that I was in love with, but someone that was like a favourite person. I was hurt and I wrote Josh, and then in the song [Favourite Person], I was like, you're really not that much of a villain. I just really couldn't handle being hated by somebody that I love so much, and that's what Favourite Person is about. And that's what that line is.”
As you can tell, Peach PRC uses her platform as a singer with a growing fanbase to talk about issues that directly affect her – from ADHD to breakups, alcohol and drug use, and her sexuality.
Curnow’s candid nature and knowledge of social media platforms has allowed her fans to feel closer to her as an artist. While her rise to fame has been rapid, she’s thankful for the success that her fans have given her, and for the viewership she’s grown through TikTok.
The first time Curnow and I speak, she’s cat-sitting for a friend and regrettably can’t share too much about the Manic Dream Pixie EP. She was weeks away from performing at Spilt Milk and Now & Again festivals. “That’s the thing, I never really got a chance to do that [perform in front of fans] because I had been singing forever and I had all my stuff online even before TikTok,” she said.
“I've been putting videos up on YouTube and Facebook and stuff like that for years. And then everything had been done my bedroom and then I got signed, but it was during lockdown for two years.” Curnow didn’t have much live performing experience at all – she went from being “thrown in the deep end” to growing in confidence after those shows, and now has an Australian headline tour starting tonight, performing in theatres across the country, including three shows in both Sydney and Melbourne.
Fast forward to now, and Curnow remarks, “To think that like 3000 people are coming to watch me headline is crazy.” When she’s performing at a festival, Curnow knows that people might simply come across her, “or they might come watch me while drinking a beer [laughs].
"But when they pay out of their own pocket to come and see just me specifically is so insane and the fact that there's people saying, ‘I want tickets but the show sold out,’ like, that is crazy to me that there's more people who want to come and watch me sing.”
When her tour kicks off tonight, Curnow won’t only be playing Josh, God Is A Freak and Heavy. Fans will also get to hear the Robyn-influenced Kinda Famous, which pulls from the beat of Dancing On My Own and recalls the storytelling prowess of Kesha.
On Kinda Famous, Curnow mentions choosing baby names with a “kinda famous” member of a boyband. “There’s this Kesha song called Stephen and I thought it was absolutely genius,” she begins.
Curnow hadn’t heard any songs like it – “I was obsessing over this guy, and she wrote this song and wrote about keeping him under her bed. I just thought that was so funny and kind of awkward,” Curnow admits, sharing that she was obsessed with a “semi famous” person she went on to date as a teenager.
“He was on other talent shows or something, and then I saw him in a club. We knew each other. So, I said hello, but he ran from me, and I physically chased him, literally running through a nightclub chasing this man who was kind of famous not even really that famous and I lost a shoe and kept running,” Curnow laughs.
“Like, what kind of fucking person was I… I had one shoe on, like, ‘I'm not gonna lose this man.’ I'm like, Oh my God, all of that for what? That’s what the song was based on, I was tapping into that… I think it's a teen girl thing. It's just something when you're a teen girl that makes you have this hysteria over boybands.”
Part of a song like Kinda Famous is Curnow’s love for writing pop songs with different themes – “I love a good love song or heartbreak song, but sometimes, I just want to tell a silly, funny, goofy story that isn't anything to do with anything,” she says. “I think Kesha’s really good at doing that. She's got so many songs that I've never heard anyone sing about this in a pop song before and I really admire that and so I wanted write a tribute to Stephen.”
She also looks up to Paris Hilton – who’s recently become a close friend. “It's such a spin out – my friends in my real life asked me this. They're like, what is it like to be friends with Paris Hilton or releasing the EP. I actually just feel delusional,” Curnow admits with a chuckle. She continues, “Oh, yeah, Paris Hilton. I'm just texting Paris Hilton. Normal thing for me to do, like, I've always done that [laughs]. Like, just completely delusional.
“But yeah, the EP has been the most exciting thing ever. Paris Hilton is so sweet. Even when I've been upset, she's reached out and been like, ‘it's okay. You make so many people happy with the music,’” Curnow shares.
Hilton even posted a Happy Birthday message to Curnow a few weeks ago, and “I just think she's magic and I would have never, ever in my life thought that I’d speak to her. Like, that's not a real life thing. I'm starting to think maybe I'm just actually crazy because none of that feels real.”
But it is real, and Curnow’s fans are latching on to her brand of 2000s-tinged glorious pop music. Songs that don’t take themselves too seriously written by an artist who wants her audience to dance while relating to her music. You could call Manic Dream Pixie “throwback” or “2000s” pop, but it’s really just Peach PRC.
“I think some people just want to dance and party. They want vibes and I think that's what I also want,” she says. “I also want to bring back that 2010-era fun, camp music, like not taking it too seriously.
“I think we're entering an era of pop that is still so beautiful, and it's its own thing but it's not my personal direction,” she continues.
As much as Curnow loves Billie Eilish, Ethel Cain, Phoebe Bridgers, and other artists making a darker kind of indie/pop music, (“it’s lyrically beautiful and such stunning music”), Curnow misses “the Carly Rae Jepsen and Katy Perry era of music. This fun music you want to sing along to in your car, have the windows down and just drive and blast it, and it's not that serious. There might be some serious lyrics snuck in there, but you won't know because you're too busy partying.”
Peach PRC’s debut EP, Manic Dream Pixie, is out tomorrow via Universal Music. You can pre-save/pre-order the EP here.