Back with yet another brilliant new song, ‘In Plain Sight’ – and a new EP, ‘You Look Like You Can’t Swim’, on the way next month – Londoner Matilda Mann is an artist to cherish. Check out the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit The Cut.
What did you do on the hottest day of last year? Probably just sat and pitied the sweaty mess you’d become, right? Not Matilda Mann. She wrote an absolute peach of a new track, ‘In Plain Sight’, which she’s just dropped today.
In it, Matilda invites us to revel in the magic of finding the perfect person hidden right before our eyes. “Some would say it’s obsessive, but I think it’s damn impressive that I found you hidden in plain sight,” she sings. Always the last place you look, isn’t it?
It’s taken from a forthcoming EP, ‘You Look Like You Can’t Swim’, set to arrive at the end of June. The latest collection from the London-born talent, she’s already proved herself an extraordinary prospect, able to captivate through impactful lyricism and timeless charm.
Hello Matilda, what are you up to today? Apart from this, obviously.
Hi, I think so much for having me! I’m actually recording some songs for something very exciting next year!
So, you’ve got a new track out. What’s ‘In Plain Sight’ about?
I think it’s crazy, out of all the people in the world, you manage to find someone so perfect for you, hidden in plain sight.
You say in the associated press gubbins you wrote this song on the hottest day of the year. Have you had to sit on it until it started to get a bit warmer out so the vibe fits?
In all honesty, songs do just take that long after you’ve written them to get out. Which, on one hand, can be frustrating, but then also can loop around to a situation like this, where it fits the time that you wrote it the year before.
If you had to hide something so nobody would ever find it, where would you put it?
Woah, that’s a crazy question. I guess it all depends on what I’m hiding. I think the sand/the desert is probably an impossible place to find anything, just because of how vast it is.
It’s part of a new EP, ‘You Look Like You Can’t Swim’. Should we expect more of this kind of thing there?
So, this is an acoustic EP. It’s really made me realise how much I enjoy the folk side of my music and the harmonies and types of instruments that go along with it. They’re all sweet and slightly simple songs ahah. Songs that are made to be listened to, but also in a subconscious sense, if that makes sense?
How does it differ from your previous collections? You’ve said that you’ve written it to give the lyrics their moment – did you spend a long time working out exactly what you wanted them to say?
A lot of the songs came around quite quickly in terms of writing them. I had the pleasure of getting my friend Tobie Trip to write and record string arrangements for three of them. I’ve never had a string arrangement on a song, but it’s always something I’ve longed for. The whole process has been very fulfilling, and I feel like I’ve taken a big step forward in terms of figuring out my sound.
Were there many songs that didn’t quite make the cut but that we’ll hopefully hear another time?
There were a few that didn’t make it, but I think they’ll work in a larger body of work, where they’ll stand better as a single folk song, amongst different types of songs.
How did you come up with the title ‘You Look Like You Can’t Swim’? What does someone who looks like they can’t swim look like, exactly?
It’s actually really silly, but it was a trend that you would say that to someone like a cuss. It’s like a really confusing, petty comment that I just thought was really funny.
I also love Loyle Carner’s album title, ‘not waving but drowning’. This is the kind of the polar opposite of that. People think he’s waving and having a good time, and he can handle everything, but people look at me, and they just know that I can’t swim. They know I can’t handle the situation I’m in, and I know it too.
Are you a good swimmer? Do you have any badges?
Actually, I can swim, and I love swimming. I wouldn’t say I’m amazing at it, but I love being in water.
You dropped a track with spill tab earlier this year. She’s brilliant, isn’t she? Are there any more people you’d like to work with like that?
She’s incredible; I’m so lucky to have had her on the song. She really brought it to life! There’s a bunch of people. I’d love to work with for many different reasons. I think still woozy is definitely someone that would bring a different kind of song out of me that I haven’t done before. But then, working with a band like boy genius or Big Thief would enhance that songwriting side of me that I feel strongly about.
What comes after this EP, then? Not to rush you, but can we start saying ‘album time’ yet?
Yes, we can start saying album time!! I’ve got the name, and I have most of the tracks, but it’s now just a case of getting everything recorded, and I’m annoyingly a perfectionist.
Lastly, you posted a pic on Insta from a bookstore the other day – what was the last 10/10 book you read, and what did you love about it?
Ahah, it sounds like a kid’s book, but actually, it’s really interesting. It’s called What It Feels Like, and it’s a bunch of really short chapters from people’s actual perspectives of having to go through certain things. For example, what does it feel like to be bitten by a shark? What does it feel like to be struck by lightning? What does it feel like to have OCD? What does it feel like to have an identical twin? What does it feel like to be shot? I love that they’re all real stories, told to the author, who has just edited it down and organised it all. ■