Matilda Mann interview: “I’ve never played to 3000 people before – I’m loving it”

Fresh from supporting Dodie and Arlo Parks, Matilda Mann is stepping into the spotlight. We chatted to the singer about inspirations and latest EP 'Sonder'.

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Currently on her biggest tour ever with Dodie and returning with her third EP, West London’s Matilda Mann has already lived out a few dreams. Armed with a voice made for John Lewis Christmas adverts and a handful of low-key bops, Matilda is on the up. Her latest EP ‘Sonder’ was written in the thick of the pandemic and imagines a better world. At only 21 years old, she’s got the lyrical sensibilities of someone far older, thanks to her curious nature and drive to pursue music since she was a child.

Matilda achieved a life goal by supporting Arlo Parks, Beabadoobee and The Staves on tour – who, alongside Laura Marling, were her initial musical inspirations – and she chats to us now in the midst of her current run, where she’s taking a day to chill at home with her dog.

So how do you feel this tour compares to the ones that you did pre-pandemic?

It’s nice and it’s amazing to be performing to people again. Dodie has quite big crowds. I’ve never played to 3000 people before, so it’s quite an experience, but I’m loving it. It’s crazy because I think there are actually some people who have come early because they know they know my songs, and I’ve never had that before. I don’t think anyone’s ever been in the audience who knows who I am, so that’s quite insane.

Credit: Theo Batterham

What can you tell us about your new EP ‘Sonder’?

All of the songs were written in the middle of the pandemic, and I had all the time in the world to think about how other people were dealing with the situation. I was so lucky to be in a household and get along with everyone that I was living with, and I was able to still support myself financially, whereas it must have been a very different story for so many other people. I think everyone else thought about that too, and we all kind of realised that we needed to change everything that was rubbish with the world. I really liked that whole movement. I guess I wanted to do something that would continue that, so it’s called ‘Sonder’, just basically as a reminder to look out for other people. And all of the songs are for other people or about other people.

Do you prefer writing about other people, or writing from your own experiences?

I think I do a combination. I think I take someone else’s story, or something that they’re going through, usually my friends’ stories and heartbreaks, and I kind of write as if I were them, like what I would do or how I would be feeling. I do write about myself, but I guess because I write a lot of songs, there’s only so much I can say about myself before it gets repetitive.

That brings us to the inspiration for ‘Stranger (For Now)’, which is about Jim and Pam from The Office.

I love them. I love both versions of The Office, but I think I love the US one because you go on such a journey with Jim and Pam. There are so many ups and downs with them, and you become more invested in them. I just wanted to write a song summarising the whole thing of knowing that you’re meant to be with someone but the timings just always off – it just switches back and forth.

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Strangers are a common theme in your writing – why do you have such an affinity for them?

I think it’s getting to make up this whole scenario. It’s a whole blank person. You don’t know anything about them. I kind of wonder what people think about me when they first meet me, like, what kind of stranger I am to people.

Are there any other offbeat inspirations that you think we should know about?

‘Glass Ceiling’ I wrote because my friend, who is an amazing woman, started seeing this guy and at the beginning, he kept putting on like, ‘Oh my god, I’m such a feminist. I read all these feminist books’. And then after like two weeks, he dumped her because she was too independent, which made no sense. He didn’t believe in anything that he was saying, and it really ticked me off.

Do you feel that you’re quite an observational person?

Yeah, definitely. My parents found my baby videos the other day. There’s one of a birthday party of two-year-olds and they’re screaming, running around, being children. And then it pans over to the corner, and I’m sat there by myself staring at all of the kids, just watching them all like a psychopath. So I’ve always been very interested in how people act and why they act that way.

Matilda Mann’s new EP ‘Sonder’ is out now via Arista Records.

READ MORE: Arlo Parks interview: “I’m determined to do positive work with the time I have on this earth”

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