Matt Maltese: “It was a mix of not giving a fuck, but also really giving a fuck”

Matt Maltese on album number two, and embracing the ballad.

Hailed as the schmaltzcore king we all deserved when his debut came out, Matt Maltese is back with album number two. Moving from a studio to his bedroom and focussing more on his love for ballads, Things are a little bit more intimate this time around. We lit a few candles, cooked a romantic meal, and asked: why are so many South London shops named Krystal?

Hi Matt, first things first: How’s this album been different to your debut?

I guess the main thing is probably the number of people I had involved in the making of it. It was more insular this time around, fewer people to bounce ideas off of. I guess it was a more lonely experience, but in a good way. The more it went along, the more I realised it needed to be like this and I wanted to go as far with it as I could.

And was it your first time producing as well as playing?

I’ve been doing home demos for quite a while, but never really trying to get them to a place where it could be considered a finished song. This was the first time where I can actually say it’s a song that I’ve produced, rather than just a demo which I finished with someone later.

Did that give you more freedom?

I think so, definitely. There’s a lot to be said for the non-performance of it all. When there’s someone in the room with you, no matter how comfortable you are with them, you still kind of perform when they’re there. You’re singing and playing a part for them, and without that middleman, everything was the most honest it could be.

Were there any themes you wanted to touch on that you didn’t with the first album?

I think there was a lot I wanted to do differently. I wanted to just embrace the ballad a lot more with this one, I really love writing love songs that maybe two or three years ago I would’ve thought were too cute, or too sweet. I just wanted it to embody the fact that I feel a bit more comfortable writing those kinds of songs. It was a mix of not giving a fuck but also really giving a fuck, in that I had a lot to prove to myself, but also I was just in my room doing what I feel good doing. There’s more intimacy there, and it just felt like less of an event, so there was less pressure, and I think – I hope – that benefitted it.

“I wanted to just embrace the ballad”
Matt Maltese

Would it be fair to call this a break-up record?
I think there is a theme of heartbreak, but it’s very broad. It is break-up in the sense that it’s about losing someone, but it’s also about all the other parts of love, too. There’s a lot of falling in love with people there and falling in love with love. I don’t really wanna announce it as a break-up album, because I know I will have many more break-up albums, so I think it’s half-true this time round.

Are you worried you’ll run out of real experiences to write songs about?

Definitely, I worry about it every day. This idea that I might’ve just written the last song that I’ll ever write is scary, but I feel like worrying about it isn’t good. I think it’s important not to base your life around wanting it to be a song. As long as I don’t fall into that horrible pattern of seeing your own life as a movie, it should be ok.

Why is the title-track called ‘Krystal’ with a K?

Well, it’s not the name of an actual person, but in London, whenever I take the bus, I feel like I see places with Krystal in the name. I live just off the Old Kent Road in South London, and I’m faced with these shops all the time *laughs*.
The feeling and emotion in the song is real, but I didn’t want to name the person and that word, whether I liked it or not, just kept popping up in my face, so that’s kind of how that happened.

Why did you pick it as the title-track?

I felt like it was a bit different from the rest of the record in that it doesn’t have humour, it’s just a very honest song in its soppiness, and I liked that. I didn’t want the name of the album to be a pun, as much as I like puns, I just wanted it to be a title with no curtains.

What would be the most flattering comparison someone could make to the album?

There are lots of answers, I just hope they would say something good. I’m worried that I’ll answer and it’ll bite me in the arse! I guess any good album with heartbreaks, although there are a bunch of those… I’m not going to be able to answer this one, because I’ll regret any answer, definitely.

Taken from the November issue of Dork. Matt Maltese’s album ‘Krystal’ is out 8th November.

Words: Jake Hawkes

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