Girlhood and Growing Up, with Matilda Rose
“Your art is YOUR art. You’re not writing songs for other people, you’re writing them for yourself.”Matilda Rose
Canberra-based singer/songwriter, Matilda Rose, undoubtedly represents those from humble beginnings. Singing the likes of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift outside of shop entrances from a young age, Matilda’s music has evolved with her. With her earlier releases such as ‘Stay’ and ‘Watch Me Break Your Heart’ capturing something more uplifting and sentimental, there’s a contrasting loss of innocence with her latest release, ‘this is personal’. Earlier this month, she explained to us that the song explores a turbulent and dysfunctional relationship within an ex-partner, (here).
However, that essence of the humble and soft personality her former releases encapsulated is, of course, still there. Matilda loves dogs, baking and confessed to wanting to be Hannah Montana.
With an album in the works, Matilda Rose’s music provides an intimate and honest experience – her down-to-earth personality only confirms it further. We discuss girlhood and growing up, as well as experiences that have shaped both her and her music. Upon listening to her work, I feel her music very much IS her. It’s a pleasure to hear this personal growth through a delicate, angelic voice. Now, take it away, Matilda!
Tell us some interesting things that describe who you are. What do you want your audience to know about you / imagine you’re writing your autobiography and were to summarise your life in a couple of short paragraphs… what would you write?
I grew up in the country scene, singing Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift outside shops. I spent a few years playing at country festivals before taking a break, finishing school and changing course completely. Throughout several moves, jobs, relationships, heartbreaks, I progressed into writing angrier dark-pop music. I’ve made myself at home there and am now writing an album full of it.
Country music is quite a stark contrast to the music you’re putting out – how did you get into music, and who would you say has influenced your music the most?
I’m gonna shock you with this one, but Taylor Swift got me really into song-writing… and I desperately wanted to be Hannah Montana for a hot minute. Taylor is definitely my all-time favourite. I have always admired her song-writing and ability to craft songs that everyone can relate to.
Tell us about how you create your music and what instruments you play.
I started on guitar when I was about 10. It was a pink acoustic guitar from Aldi and I was in love. I learned the basics on piano, bass guitar, drums, ukulele, and even clarinet at one point. Then, when I was about 16 I had a surgery on my wrist, preventing me from playing guitar for about half a year. Overall, I’ve been playing guitar for roughly 10 years and writing/singing since I could talk!
I imagine that time away from playing would’ve been really challenging, but you were obviously determined to get back at it! What is it that motivates you, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
I tend to draw from any emotional life experiences. Anything that I can’t express properly goes into a song: deep dark secrets, desires, or big emotional events that screaming in the car won’t solve. I also love talking to people about their own problems and draw inspiration from them so as not to just “talk about myself”.
Moving on to a song that, by its very title, is based on your personal experiences. How did ‘this is personal’ come into fruition? It’s quite a tonal shift from your previous work?
The track was originally created in my bedroom, during the first lockdown. I was bored and wanted to try producing. I laid down a track then wrote over it, something I don’t usually do, and haven’t really done since. I tend to write lyrics and then music, so this was more of an experiment. Then, I sent it to my producer, and he turned it into this epic piece!
It really is a great track – both you and your producer did a fine job with that! If you were to describe your style of music to someone who hasn’t heard it yet, what would you say about it? Is there a particular genre you associate with the most?
Dark-pop/indie. I’ve always been a sucker for sad songs and that reflects in my writing. I find the best songs are written from real, emotional places and it’s definitely something I’ve always stuck to. At the same time, I try to make a mix of sad, sad songs and dance sad songs, stuff you can dance/cry/drive to.
Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process, and perhaps a few key lessons you’ve learned whilst making music – how has your approach developed over time?
Your art is YOUR art. You’re not writing songs for other people, you’re writing them for yourself. It took me a long time to figure this out. It’s good to know your audience but you don’t need to cater to their every need. I grew up as a sweet little country girl because I had so many people say they loved that about me. I thought: “Well, this is my brand, I can’t change that.” That is NOT the case: people change and so does their sound. I dropped a pop song and lost a lot of supporters in country, but I was comforted in the fact that if they were true friends, they would’ve stayed. You can’t please everyone.
What significant events or successes in your musical adventures that you are most proud of?
I think my proudest moments have been the ones that reflect my hard work. I don’t think of awards or anything to be the real successes, I like to celebrate the things such as releasing a song that I paid for myself at 18, having freshly moved out of home for the first time. Or having a young girl coming up to me thanking me for helping her with struggles she’s going through with my songs. Those things make me want to keep going.
The music industry can be pretty harsh… have you experienced any challenges or set-backs so far in your career?
I struggled a lot with body image for a long time. Still do, to some extent! I used to do talent quests and competitions, and they completely killed my self-esteem. I got to the point where I was having panic attacks before and after every performance, and – when I was old enough – couldn’t perform without having a few drinks beforehand. I took a long break and didn’t write anything for a long time, but I got the help I needed, and my skin is thicker than ever.
Huge respect for getting help, and it’s awesome to hear you’ve won that battle! You’ve just released your latest singe ‘this is personal’, congratulations! What are you going to do with your time now, and what can we expect to hear from you in the future?
I work 2 jobs currently, lockdown didn’t really help musicians, so I’m pretty busy! I’m either working, making music, or napping. I’m pretty happy with that. I’m in the process of recording a debut album, which will hopefully to released mid-next year!
Thanks again for your time Matilda, and all the best for the forthcoming album, we’ll be watching out for that! Readers can find Matilda on Instagram, Facebook, all the major music streaming platforms, and her official website (where there’s much merchandise to be had!).