In The Middle With Matt Maltese

Charlotte Bresh’ fears of meeting her musical idol were dissipated when she realised the alternative indie soloist Matt Maltese quite frankly could not have been lovelier.

Having been a huge fan of Matt Maltese’s since his first SoundCloud demo (the now well-known ‘Even If It’s A Lie’), I was apprehensive to meet him. What if the man behind the music I’ve been blasting in my room for the past four years turns out to actually be a complete egoist? The angsty-teenager inside me was quaking in her boots, and the pitifully drab weather outside wasn’t helping my mood. Imagine my relief then, when it turned out that actually Maltese could not have been more friendly and down to earth if he tried. If you ask me, the guy could actually do with a bit more ego-boosting. 

How do you feel about this tour in relation to the Bad Contestant tour? Is it different, are you more confident?

Yeah, it feels like the whole thing’s a bit different this time around. Making the record was very intimate, and when things were recorded it was really, properly ‘done’ rather than f***ing around with it for ages. I’ve got a whole new band and I feel like I have the right people around me for this record.

Do you reckon you prefer the more intimate production on Krystal?

It’s not really a preference, it’s how it ended up being because it’s how I feel at the moment. People tend to do an (inverted commas) ‘bedroom album’, and then they go on and do a record in a studio and progress from there. But I feel fine with what I’ve done because it’s kinda just what happened. 

Your lyrics are so often so poignant. What’s your songwriting process like? Do you tend to write the lyrics first and let the melody follow?

I think mostly, it comes at the same time. I’ll sometimes sit with half a song for two years and the other half will come two years later but yeah, most of the time it comes together.

Oh god, are you one of those really annoying Paul McCartney-types who’s lyrics just come to them in a dream?

(Laughs) No, I definitely haven’t had a Yesterday moment- I don’t really dream my songs. I definitely record a voice memo on the street and pretend I’m on a phone call though.

You took some time off in between the end of your Bad Contestant tour and releasing more music. Do you feel like this was beneficial for you or did you completely stop writing music for a bit?

No, no. I kind of started a second record outwards of the same setup I did on the first. Then I went on the U.S. tour and then just hit the reset button. I was really not in the mood to leave the house and be in the studio. I kind of wanted to bring things back a little bit- closer to the demos that I did and have always created, even during Bad Contestant. I think I kind of just took some time off from people (laughs shyly).

Your ‘USP’ has for a while been your ironic lyrics and your cynicism. Do you ever feel like you want to take a step back from that persona?

Yeah, I’d like to think that a lot from this record is a lot less ironic. I think I stepped back from Bad Contestant and I loved the process, but I got to a point where I was using irony as a self-defence. With this record I wanted it to just be about being broken-hearted. I still want to process things through comedy, I always do, and I like to joke about being sad, because otherwise what do you have?

Yep, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

Exactly! I think laughing and crying are often really close, and that’s fine. But I do feel that with this record I didn’t want to be ironic because it’s kind of the coward’s way out. You feel heartbreak and unfortunately, whether you like it or not, it brings out all of these feelings and you can’t really run away from it. With this record, it was more ‘Yeah, I’m just gonna be a vulnerable, soppy guy, and that’s fine.’

For sure, it’s definitely a big issue for a lot of people, particularly young people right now, especially that ‘mindless scrolling’ phenomenon.

Yeah, it sounds cheesy, but I think always being grateful is important. I’m very aware of how privileged I am to even be on social media plugging myself. So I think, remembering that no-one is really better than anyone else, and not being an arrogant d*** to someone is really half the battle in this world. If people could just be kind and humble then maybe it wouldn’t be such a problem.

It feels like we’re seeing more artists like Lewis Capaldi who don’t take themselves too seriously. Do you think through this attitude we’re moving away from ‘untouchable role models?

Yeah, I just think that being funny, self-deprecating and mocking makes sense because at the end of the day we’re all in the same boat, no one’s better- we’re all a mess. 

Speaking of mess… there’s noticeably nowhere near as many political undertones on this album as there was on the last. Was this intentional?

I just didn’t really feel like I had something to say on that platform that people weren’t already hearing every day. Especially because I don’t really feel like there’s a lot of ‘far-right’ people listening to my music, so what’s the use in me virtue-signalling? To be honest, it’s just such a mess that it’s impossible to write about- where do you start? Definitely not ruling it out though.

Last year, you released a cover of Driving Home for Christmas on Spotify during the festive season, are you planning on putting out anything this year?

Oh no, I’m not gonna release anything for Christmas. Actually, I’d completely forgotten about Driving Home for Christmas, and then saw it on my SoundCloud yesterday like ‘Oh yeah I did do that’… maybe next year?

Just one last question for you. There are a lot of young aspiring student musicians in Leeds. If you could give them any piece of advice, what would it be? 

I think, say everything you’re thinking. Everything that you think isn’t important, are the parts that make you unique.

Charlotte Bresh