IntheMiddle with Matt Maltese ahead of stunning performance at Belgrave, 12/04

Matt Maltese is leading the way into a new era of song-writing, enamouring more and more listeners with his distinctive voice and romantic sway. Matt joins Sarah Oglesby on a rainy day in the warmth of The Belgrave Music Hall to chat about his song writing, musical influences, and the release of his debut album.


For those who have been following Maltese since the beginning of his career, it is safe to say that he’s yet to release a song that doesn’t stun its audience; his endearing voice and sombre style is what has made the long release of his debut album so anticipated. Congratulating him on the announcement, I ask him how he feels to have final released it; “Good,” he beams. ”I’m glad it’s not one of them tragic stories of it being shelved for five years. It’s been in my mind for a while and something I’ve thought about for years. I feel really good to have made it and I’m glad that it’s coming out.”

Earlier this month, Maltese decided to tease his audience with the release of his single ‘Like a Fish’, a single that is to be featured on his upcoming album. Unlike former songs, the single allows a brief release from Maltese’s usual sombre style. That being said, Maltese still stays true to his cynical persona, presenting a grotesque and frank message; “I think it’s one of my personal favourites from the album. It’s the least ego filled; it’s a kind of insight into a love triangle and I’m really happy with it.” What marks Maltese as such an interesting songwriter is his no-nonsense attitude; his songs have a blunt presence about them that radiates the bitter truth in a beautifully honest way. The dark humour of his songs accompanied with the lustful sound of Maltese’s vocals act as the perfect combination to entice in any listener. “I’d say they all have prevailing kind of themes but a lot of them are very open and autobiographical so I think they actually have a lot of things coming in and out of them. When you’re writing about life it’s going to seem a bit like a shit show, bits of this, bits of that.”

It is clear that all of Maltese’s songs have a matter-of-fact style, refraining from masking themselves in any way whilst remaining raw and authentic. In the music world today, it is valid to say that many bands and artists have changed their sound or the message behind their songs in order to fit into the industry and avoid criticism. “I think if the industry didn’t try to shape (artists) there’d be more people who feel less alone. There’s not enough of the truth; it’s something that is really missing in pop music.”

For those who have not seen Mr. Maltese perform before, his set can only be described as a cathartic experience within itself. Being a massive fan of the artist, I was always expecting his set to be a memorable experience; however Maltese blew me away with the serenity of his sound. It is very rare to come across an artist whose vocals live are better than its recording, yet Maltese magnetised the crowd with his captivating vocals. Performing a sweet set of seven songs, Maltese somehow managed to create an atmosphere that could only be described as a post-Brexit pop disco, despite the morbid and harsh nature of his songs. It was impossible not to find yourself swaying to the soothing tone. Serenading us with a collection of songs from his debut album, the highlight of the set came when Maltese performed an unreleased song ‘Guilty’. A tune that he wrote after he “took a very silly drug, kissed someone’s girlfriend, and then went ice-skating with his mum.” Creating an abundance of humour within the venue, ‘Guilty’ acted as the perfect representation of Maltese ‘s bare style whilst also illustrating why his writing style is impossible not to be intrigued by. Speaking to Maltese earlier that day, Matt revealed to me that a lot of his songs are greatly influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen: “I’m inspired by a lot of singers that speak with a grotesque truth, who describe the ins and outs of their lives and love situations and do it in a beautiful way, even if the details aren’t necessarily beautiful.”

As I reluctantly watched Maltese’s set come to an end, closing track ‘As the World Caves In’ exhibited why Matt Maltese provides the perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse. The beauty in the honesty of his lyrics, whisper a very morbid outlook on life and what it can throw at you. With the tragedy all around, perhaps it won’t be long before we hear the sombre sound of Mr. Maltese coming through the radio as the world crumbles down.

So what’s next for Matt Maltese? “I’ve got a show in London at Scala on the 6th of June which is five days after the album is released, so that’s the real main thing! And then we’ll see what happens with the album, and see if anyone gives a shit’.

Maltese’s album, Bad Contestant, is out 1st of June.


Sarah Oglesby