I don’t really speak about love, so I sing about it

Interview mit Matt Wills
Promobild Matt Wills

Dieses Interview ist in der Originalsprache, in der es geführt wurde. Die deutsche Übersetzung gibt es hier.  


Sub-zero temperature, sleet and icy wind – that’s what the weather was like when I met Matt Wills, singer-songwriter from London, and his tour manager, Josh Hallett, at the showcase «Mucke bei die Fische» in Hamburg. I couldn’t ask for anything better than talking to Matt about his heart-warming music. He spoke about lonely hours at his nan’s, how he discovered his own sound and how love influences his life and his music.


Matt, I would like to introduce you to the Swiss audience. How would you describe you and your music in a few sentences? 


Matt: Drunk guy playing a guitar – no I’m joking. The whole thing is just songs about girls. That’s just the whole thing I’m doing: tell them stories about love. I’m so scared of showing emotions, so my music is about those little snippets of my life about girls.


(Matt looks at Josh) Oh, I sometimes look at him for approval.


Josh: It’s interesting what you said cause at the gig at RADAR you put so much emotion into it and when you came off stage you were crying. He was there on the stage singing all of his songs, telling his stories to the audience.


Matt: I don’t really speak about love, so I sing about it. I’m always like «ooh she doesn’t love me anymore, it was so nice, what did I do…»“ – yeah that’s me, I’d say that.


Does it help you to get over difficult times if you pack your stories into songs? Cause you sing a lot about love, about being disappointed. 


Matt: I never had that one before. (laughs) 


Josh: You get disappointed a lot.


Matt: Yeah, I do actually. Well, what I’d say about me, most when I have songs I use diary inputs. I don’t really take photos like – the way I write is that I go home, I just pick up my guitar and whatever comes out is what I want to say and I’ll kinda go «right this is what I want tell you, this thing has happened» so yeah, for me is that like little diary inputs and I like it, so I can go back and listen to it like  «Lost and Found »  which is about when I had nowhere to live so this girl let me live with her and it was amazing to me and I’m looking back and think «oh that was a really happy time» and then I listen to the song «Hurricane» which is a tune about a certain girl, and then I go like «ooohh shit» and I know this is my moment of love, this is my moment of rage, this is my moment of disappointment and that’s how I like to write. I don’t really know what to say…



Listening back makes my heart burn.



That’s good, it sounds interesting. Who or what inspired you for a music career? 

Matt: The true story is… Do you want the truth or a lie?


The truth.

Matt: The true story is I was a really fat and ugly child. Horribly fat and ugly. Not saying I’m any better now (everyone laughs). I fell in love with this girl, she’s married now. I fell in love with her but she didn’t pay any attention, I was like a friend for her. Then I played the guitar and wrote music for her while I listened to mine and her favourite bands which was The Kooks, Jamie T, Ben Howard, all of these guys, Ed Sheeran, and all those guys. I sat down and so I played and played their songs until I could play their songs. And once I learned how to play their songs I started to write my own songs over the top of what I’ve learned on guitar. So they were basically Kooks-songs but with new melodies on top. It‘s kinda nice to see how it‘s going now, just listening back makes my heart burn and listening to that it‘s like right, this is where I started with these songs. I tried to be like Ed Sheeran but I was a bit shit until now - now I’m me.   

Now you laugh about people who are trying to be like Ed Sheeran. 

Matt: Exactly! (laughs)  

So that was also the way how you found your own sound? 

Matt: Yeah. My parents were bankrupt. I moved to London when I was 15, I came back when I was 17 and I went to my parents’ home and there was no one there. I called my mum and dad: «Yo what am I gonna do?», and he was just like: «You can stay at your nans.» So I stayed at my nans, just me and my nan, which was fucking weird, but she had this old Apple Mac computer. I sat there and I had no job, no money, no nothing, no friends cause all my friends were in London, and I had no way to make friends in Kent so I could not go out. So I sat in my room writing music every night and learned how to make my vibe.


… at your nans (I giggle) 

Matt: Yeah (laughs) – look at you! 


It’s actually a sad story.

Matt: It is sad. But I’m back in London and I’m fine. It’s nice cause for so long I kept writing music and I didn’t have any money of it. Everyone was like «Could it? Could it?». It’s about the little things like this; playing my first show outside of the UK, being in Europe. It’s quite cool and people like it and know about my music which is mad.


Is there a topic you would never put into a song? 

Matt: No! There’s nothing. The only thing – I wrote a song called «Good Morning, Good Night» which will come out on the new album. It’s about mom and dad and that was the one thing I didn’t mean to write about. But my mum and dad asked me to do it. I sat around and the whole thing was just an elaboration. My mum was like «That’s literally what me and your dad are like» and listen back to the lyrics I was like «that has no relation to me, that’s just about my parents». That’s what I always thought I’d never write about and now I have.


But the other thing I personally never want to write about is like glamorizing any sort of life. All my songs show reality like «ADX» was about drugs and shit, and I just hate these songs when they’re like «yeah it was such a great time» but it actually wasn’t. On my t-shirts are cigarette packs, my logo is, it’s all about drugs. I protest but I’m so addict. I wish I didn’t smoke, I wish I didn’t drink, I wish I didn’t take these drugs and do this shit. But I did… (thinks)… Ohhhh, I’m getting very deep! Where’s the fun answers?!


(I laugh) No that’s fine, they’re coming.

Matt: No one ever gets this stuff. Normally I’m just like «Yeah, I love drugs», and that’s it. 

Josh: Swiss peeps better like you. (everyone laughs)


Which song are you most proud of and why? 

Matt: «Ellie Grab Your Gun» is one of my favourites. No one was there to work with me when I first started to write music. Like no one. I was like «Can I come for a session?» and they were all like «Nah you’re shit» and I was like «Uhm, fair enough.» (laughs). Then there was this guy called Adam Coltman who’s done some Ed Sheeran records.


I went down, first session and we wrote this song «Ellie Grab Your Gun» and it was the first thing I ever wrote that properly. Now it’s on my album and I’m endlessly proud of it. I mean that was just two mates hanging out, you get them into a vibe. When nobody wanted to work with me, this one guy did, that song got signed, that song got me radio played, that song’s got me further. I mean that’s a cool feeling. 



Justin Bieber is just fucking mental.



Yeah, I can only imagine, it sounds fantastic.

Josh: It’s a really good song. Ah, we need to go in five minutes cause Tom Grennan is on and you wanna watch him.


Matt: Right, what else is on there?


If you had the opportunity to open for any artist who would you choose?

Matt: The Kooks. They are a part of the reason why I started to do music. Luke of The Kooks has messaged me the other day so who knows. It would be super wavey, I‘d love to support The Kooks. Also – please don‘t be mad – but Justin Bieber would be sick. You get what I mean? I don’t care what other people think but Justin Bieber would be sick. And The 1975 because I’m a big fan of Healy. So those three: The Kooks, Justin Bieber – Justin Bieber is just fucking mental – and The 1975 cause I’m such a big fan.  

(I’m nodding) 

Matt: Okay okay, you get me (laughs).


I do. Are you nervous when you go on stage?

Matt: When I’m on my own headline shows? Nah, not a thing.



Matt: I know everyone. Everyone that comes to my shows, I’d invite them to my house party like «Come chill with me» - do you get what I mean? I know everyone kinda personally, and it’s when I leave my little comfort zone where people know my songs, where I can take away my guitar and people are still singing. But then there are shows when I go like «Oh shit I’ve got to prove myself again» cause for so long in London I was doing shows and I had to prove myself. I got to places where people were coming to the shows and knew my songs and get caught of it and liked it. And then I’m going to be like today, I got to prove myself that they’ll be like «Yo this guy is dope, you should check him out».  Then I realise how lazy I got and that’s when I get nervous.


So today was very different compared to shows in London?

Matt: Massive different. Cause no one knows who I am, no one is interested in who I am. They are like «We don‘t care who you are». You think you doing big things in London but like in Germany no one knows who you are. So that’s also why I didn’t drink before the show today. I gotta focus, that’s the vibe.


What do you do right before you go on stage?

Matt: It’s basically chain-smoke. Normally I’m so worried about everyone else than about myself, that’s the vibe, also just right before the show. I make sure I go around before the show and speak to everyone like «Yo man how’s it going, you good? Thanks for coming to the show, you having a good time? Get a drink». It’s like being a party host, like a house party host; is everyone okay? Is the house tidy? – That’s kind of the vibe. So before the show I just like chain smoking and chat to everyone else. Then I have to play the songs on guitar before I go on stage. If I don’t play them on guitar, I’d forget them (laughs).


Yeah, you better play them before the gig, that makes sense. We switch to some quick fire questions.


Matt: Okay, cool!


Coffee or tea?

Matt: Tea.


Beer or wine?

Matt: Wine.


Town or countryside?

Matt: Town.


Playing guitar or singing?

Matt: Singing – fuck guitar.


So if you had to decide you’d give up playing the guitar?

Matt: Yeah, I’d give up playing the guitar.



Matt: Yeah man!


Yeah man – that’s not as clear as you think! (everyone laughs)

Josh: Matt was always the singer and not the guitarist.


Matt: Exactly, so that’s why!


Hotel or camping?

Matt: Hotel - fuck camping. People who camp: you weirdos. They’re like «Oooh come with me to the countryside, sleep in a tent.» Fuck that! I want a nice shower and a good bed.


I’m a camper but don’t worry.

Matt: Oh no, I’m so sorry. (everyone laughs)


I would actually have bet that you say camping.Matt: REALLY? Everyone thinks I’m a camper, but I’m not. (everyone laughs)


Coast or mountains?

Matt: Coast.


Tour or studio?

Matt: Studio.



You think you doing big things in London but like in Germany no one knows who you are.



Is there a question you have never had to answer and you would like to say something to this question?


Matt: Ooooh, that’s a great question, isn’t it? Uhm, to be fair.. like…most questions people ask are like «Is your hair magical? You got such a big hair». Seriously? The only thing I’d like to do in an interview is like «How’s your day?», that would be cool. Like «How are you?» – yeah I’m good actually, I’m fine. Cause most of the time someone asks you how you are, you could be like «I’m fucked in the head» (laughs). I’d like to say that (laughs). 

Yes, people are just trying to find good questions so they don’t think about a simple «How are you?»


Matt: Yeah, but that’s the thing. Just ask me how are you and I can tell you every little shit. Uhm…are there any other question? I don’t know. Like, to be fair, when the questions come I love these, it’s fun. So whatever question it is: hit me up with it, no matter where I am.


To come to an end: Do you wanna say something to your album release – which is hopefully soon – or some «save the dates 2017»?


Matt: Alright, so in March, I have one of the EP’s coming out called «The Wallflower EP».


What even is a wallflower? 

Matt: She knows it, she knows it!!! What even is a wallflower!!! (everyone laughs)


So yeah, I got this EP coming out and after that a single and then the album «La Petite Mort» which means «the little death» in French.


Why did you choose this title?

Matt: Because all my songs are about loving the dark manner and I love the fact that «la petite mort» means «the little death». If you just look at it it’s the little death but in friendship crises it’s the feeling, the euphoria you have, without having an orgasm. It sounds a bit more awful when you say it out loud but in my mind it sounds beautiful. All my songs are about love – it’s all about love and affection. 


It is wonderful, I love the idea. That’s it, thank you so much for your time, I don’t wanna keep you away from seeing Tom.


Matt: Thanks to you and you coming with meee!!



Matt Wills - «Set You Free»



Rahel Inauen / Mi, 01. Feb 2017