Interview: Matt Maltese

Following the release of his most recent album Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow, Matt Maltese sat down on Zoom with The Mic's Matty Hill to talk about the inspirations behind the album, how it differs from his past work, and - most surprisingly - peanut butter preferences.


Riddled with the worst fresher’s flu to plague Nottingham since the Forbidden Cough of ’97, I stare at the empty Zoom call waiting for Matt to join. As the seconds tick by the battle between my throat and its frog rages, until finally I admit defeat. “Don’t join the call now, please don’t join the call now”, I beg as I allow the amphibious army (the official term for a group of frogs) to charge forth from my mouth and nose in a revolting, messy gloop… *beeep*… “Hello! It’s Matty right?” “Hi, yeah nice to meet you”. Did he miss it? Or was he just too polite to mention it? I’ll never know. So, I began chatting with my favourite musician - who may or may not now think I’m repulsive.


"Following this style of introspective ballads, the Anglo-Canadian’s sound has since been defined by his use of curious metaphor and beautifully-blatant writing"

Back when he was aged just 17, Matt announced himself to the musical world with his debut single Even if it’s a Lie. After introducing us to his style of introspective ballads, the Anglo-Canadian’s sound has since been defined by his use of curious metaphor and beautifully-blatant writing, earning him much critical acclaim from the likes of NME, the Independent and DIY. Releasing his first full length album Bad Contestant in 2018, Krystal followed a year later, and I talk to him about his most recent record, Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow.


Despite reflecting on the tolls of lockdown, it was surprising to hear Matt himself label the new album as “the most positive record I’ve made”. Progressing from the more sombre themes of his earlier albums, the hopeful sound of this release reflects a certain degree of maturity and newfound perspective. The public’s reaction to quarantine and the ability to persevere through the pandemic is greatly admired in the new album; the lyrics of the title track and You Deserve an Oscar (for pretending nothing’s wrong) highlight the singer’s admiration for how most of us were able to take the challenges of the last year and half in our stride.


"We didn’t need to point out widespread misery because it was already being pointed out by everybody else every day"

Discussing his own experience of the pandemic, Matt emphasised how important a time it was to “dig deep into ourselves to find the small things that brought us joy”. The singer admitted his own luck in being able to continue his work on the album in his London flat and found his own small moments of joy in “morning runs and group meals with housemates”. Explaining how he was able to create a more upbeat tone for Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow even through the difficulties of the pandemic, Matt poignantly said, “We didn’t need to point out widespread misery because it was already being pointed out by everybody else every day,” and that in creating a more hopeful sound the singer was able to create a sense of escapism, which made it a “coping record” for him during lockdown.


Talking about this newfound positivity led us to reflect upon the reasons for the more pessimistic tone of his earlier albums and the extent to which Matt separates himself from the emotional states of them. “The themes of banality and loneliness” have always influenced Maltese’s music, and reminiscing on his earlier work, the singer showed great self-awareness and even sympathy for his younger self. “When I look back at my first record [Even If It’s A Lie] I hear pure two-dimensional heartbreak, and just think ‘You poor, poor thing.’”



While Matt admitted to no longer being able to relate to that mindset, he acknowledged that “it’s still nice to look back on my earlier work, even if the writing might not be as impressive. I’m just at peace with it all, you love it for being a stepping stone to what you are. It’s so silly to want to think every song represents you right now, as long as I was being who I thought I was then, that’s all you can do, you can’t have regrets.” Not wanting to wish any bad luck to his love life, but being a sucker for a sad album myself, I put in my own request for the release of a few more heartbreak singles which Matt humorously assured me would be on the way.


"When asked about his musical influences, Matt has always brought up the great Leonard Cohen, and our conversation was no exception"

When asked about his musical influences, Matt has always brought up the great Leonard Cohen, and our conversation was no exception. Whilst he may have now surpassed his idol in terms of monthly listeners, it’s clear to see the impact of Cohen’s writing throughout Matt’s discography. “I like storyteller-songwriter, classic songs,” he explains, “Writing and music that revolves around the matter of fact, writers that have comedy and bluntness in their work, people that aren’t trying too hard to say something in a poetic way, because that can sometimes be the most poetic thing, when its conversational. There’s obviously a drama in songs but a really successful song is a line you can say in real life, without it sounding like a poem. Often just saying details of the truth is abstract and weird because the truth is weird.”


This principle holds true to Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow which, unlike his earlier work, is a stripped-back, less sensationalised portrayal of the matter of fact. Krystal and Bad Contestant provided a superfluous, yet self-aware take on the highs and lows of beginning one’s quest for love, using sarcastic wit to create a character behind the writing. Whereas the newfound perspective of the musician, afforded to him by lockdown, has resulted in the development of a less dramatized and more genuine tone for Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow. “I tried to carefully walk the wire between serious and stupid,” Maltese says, and while this more serious tone may have resulted in the falling-short of a few attempts at humour, especially in the lyrics of the second single released Shoe, it has gone a long way to create a more mature and intimate record.


"Having struck a chord with the online audience during lockdown with As the World Caves In, Matt’s popularity has zoomed in the last 18 months"

Exited by the prospect of returning to live performances, Matt talked about his upcoming European and American tours, which are taking place in early 2022. Having struck a chord with the online audience during lockdown with As the World Caves In (which is now at 164 million Spotify streams), Matt’s popularity has zoomed in the last 18 months. “You can see the stats of people listening, but there really is nothing like going to a show and having someone sing back a song at you or tell you what it means to them,” the singer stressed, excited that “being able to play more shows to more people translates into me being able to do more of the work I want to do”. Yet to perform in front of a large post-lockdown audience, the recent fame may not yet have sunk in, and in typical fashion Matt said to expect ‘‘a warm, comforting evening of me playing my songs. I might say some things that are funny, and some things that are less funny,” and I am certainly looking forward to seeing him in Leeds in February.


In a Desert Island Discs-esque conversation, and after long deliberation, Matt selected Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor as his favourite track and peanut butter as his one luxury item. Then, a seemingly harmless question of “Crunchy or smooth?” caused a reaction never seen before by this humble writer. Over the infuriating three second Zoom delay, I was able to make out a torrent of abhorrent language in favour of the (quite obviously inferior) smooth variety – language which would probably render this article unpublishable, so I'll leave it out.


What followed was almost indescribable, but I’ll give it a go: Maltese repeatedly clarted my pixelated face on his laptop, cracking his own camera in the process, and a team of what I believe to be primary school dinner ladies ran into his room, held him down, spoon-fed him peanut butter (presumably smooth) and stroked his hair while whispering the lyrics of Krakow into his ear, until his anger subsided. This definitely did happen, I promise. And once the rage had drained from his bloodshot eyes and the spittle had been wiped from his quivering lips, I rather courteously thanked him for his time, ended the Zoom call, and began writing my article.

Written by: Matty Hill

Edited by: Gemma Cockrell


Featured image courtesy of Matt Maltese via Facebook.