Music is one of the many forms of artistic expression that has commercially increased exponentially, where past generations of iconic musicians couldn't even fathom the great depths that the music industry has plummeted into. In a world where a vast majority of adolescents are tied to fandoms or fighting for concert tickets on corrupt websites, the matter of music has changed, more importantly so, how artists approach this intimidating industry.
One individual in particular is the very special Matilda Marigolds. A raw talent who embodies the way in which music has progressed, creating timeless songs that speak from the root of her emotions while maintaining a humble, down-to-earth charm that shined throughout our recent interview.
The artist from New York City, real name Matilda Marigolis, is someone I've had on my radar, as songs like Time 2 Go have reached early success, even landing on one of Spotify’s playlists, Lorem, sparking even more attention for this exceptional person who I feel very lucky to have gotten to know during our short time together.
The time that we spent talking felt more like a conversation with an old friend, an approach I didn’t expect, but that Matilda warmly enforced throughout, especially from the very beginning when my own anxiety began to creep up. The ways in which Matilda carried the tone of the dialogue has transgressed my own mere concept of an interview, turning it into a connection that she fostered from the very start of our conversation.
"We're all just human beings. As one of my best friends, Jude Ciulla [Lipkin], from Laundry Day, once said, 'It don't make any sense, we all put our pants on the same way every morning.' And I have never heard a truer statement in my life. We all put our pants on the same way every morning, so why act any different?"
Upon first speaking to her face-to-face, she was no stranger to introducing me to her own environment, panning her phone to the most beautiful view of the East Coast sunset brushing past the green hills that occupy the quiet world around her. The most perfect setting for an unforgettable conversation with someone whom I admire as an artist, but now, entirely more as a person.
Matilda grew up in the New York City borough, Brooklyn, where her passion for music first bloomed. Being an only child, Matilda spent a lot of her childhood following wherever her parents took her, one of the many places being her father's shows, as he was a musician as well. Now, at 20 years old, Matilda has her own music under her belt.
She released her first EP, Union, in 2021, a seven-track record that she wrote during quarantine that ultimately helped her understand the executive processes of making a production. She has received some success since its debut although she chose not to promote Union as much now because her sound has changed since its initial release.
"For such a long time, I just really didn't talk about it [Union] because I was so focused on working on my personal development, and making stuff that I actually felt aligned with. And it was interesting because it was such a weird feeling, starting to become successful off a body of work that I didn't feel super aligned with at the time, but like I said, no hate, no shame, she's cute, we love her, great stuff happened. But it was really weird because I was marketed as a country artist, when I was not that."
For what it's worth, though Matilda's sound has matured, Union was the foundation of the artist whom we know today.
"The product definitely is not what I would make now, but if I'm thinking about my own personal growth, I would say that without that experience, I wouldn't know how to do any of the things that are the most important things to me in my creative process, which is like, collaborating with other artists and people on the production, and having an overall and overarching aesthetic and vision, and executive production goal for my project. Which is something that I'm so invested in now."
The time period in which Union was created amplified the project further. Written during the COVID-19 Pandemic and released the year following, these ideas that erupted during quarantine are heard throughout the record. In tracks like Old Sweet Way, a song that is entirely its own isolating feeling, an energy that primarily carries through most of the record.
Even the desperate acts of wanting to be near people is an element that is boosted during this song, paired with a somber, almost piano-like ballad that is a direct representation of the state of the world when the song was developed. The lyrics themselves seem to hone in on the isolation just as much as its production counterparts. "I keep on touching you, I keep on touching you // Even when you're far away, in that old sweet way."
"My process on Union was very much, very, very secluded. Just because of the life situation that everybody was going through, but also just because I don't think I was mature enough to have the skill set to understand the value of interesting production paired with my songwriting."
Even though the music Matilda makes now is vastly incomparable to her debut release, she hasn't forgotten the impact that it's made on her own choices moving further on with her career.
"The skills that I learned from [Union] helped me and shaped me as a producer in terms of making those decisions later on in other records that I made, because I don't think I would have the confidence to do that had I not had that experience with Union. And I also think I had a lot of experience collaborating with people through Union, and like, I don't think I would've been able to understand the value of that to me in my own creative process, had I not gone through that with Union."
The Bridge Between It All
The song that landmarked Matilda's final departure from Union, was her song Jesus Christ, which was released on March 1st of this year. The single catapulted her new era by introducing a whole different genre from Matilda, leaving the adolescent indie tune and welcoming a thought-provoking, experimental track that is undoubtedly one of her strongest songs in terms of her discography.
The song is packed with brilliant production elements that enhance the overall feel of the song, a song that ropes you into its obsessive atmosphere, and filled with complexities that are far beyond my repertoire of conceiving an explanation, but is still so brilliant that it makes me want to understand the song even further.
"Every time I play that song, it never gets old. It's taken so many iterations and forms, and every single time I sing it, it moves me so deeply emotionally. I've never, ever sung a song that makes me feel that way, because it has so many different meanings.
And it just means something new to me every time it comes out of my body, and it feels like I'm just channeling at that point. It doesn't even feel like it's my song. Sometimes I wonder if I even wrote it. Sometimes I'm just like, 'Oh, my god, did I just get super f'd up and just forget that I wrote this?' Like I remember it happening, but it's just such an out of body experience every time I play it."
Matilda explains that the process behind the song took some time before releasing it this year. She created the initial parts of the song in 2021 with her close friend, Maxwell Vai, another proficient talent who created the bass line that opens the song.
The two of them recorded a snippet of the song and posted part of it to Instagram, where people found it and wanted a full version released, though the song simply existed as a demo at the time. Matilda sent the demo of Jesus Christ to childhood friend, Jasper Harris, a member of the NYC band, Quarters of Change, who helped produce the song and eventually turn it into the masterpiece played today.
"I wrote the bridge as I was recording the demo, like literally I just wrote, 'You're a people pleaser, heartbreak teaser,' then I just did it and it just happened. And then I sent it to Jasper that night and I was like, 'Hey, I just wrote this, do you want to work on this together?' And he was like, 'Yeah, yeah totally.' ... Didn't work on it for a year. Then one day, he just sends me the demo out of nowhere.
Jasper sent the demo maybe eight months after I wrote that song, and it grew on me. So much. I didn't really like it at first, to be honest, but I never told him that. 'Cause I was so used to it sounding one way, and then it didn't sound that way because my favorite person on the planet reimagined it."
Similar to how it was developed, the song itself takes you on its own journey. Swelled with a soft intensity that then builds into this explosive outro, that resonates with the story of how the song was created.
"I wrote Jesus Christ kind of about feeling like, revisiting the feeling of falling in love with somebody. And also just feeling really... I don't know! Just super confused! Kind of like the end of the song."
A quality of Matilda's that was noticed during our conversation was how important artist collaboration is when making music. When she mentions the people that help her create her sound, her face lights up, and she almost can't help but talk about the wonderful minds that aid in bringing forth the art they put out into the world. Art that speaks from her heart, but willingly shares alongside her truth.
How refreshing it is to hear from someone who exists fully in their passion, who talks about it fondly as if it's a being outside of the physical realm, a feeling that is only ignited when truly manufacturing the essence of a timeless creation. That's what music is really all about.
Fostering the Vessel of Expression
When speaking about her latest singles, Elbows and 1972, Matilda opens up about how challenging it is to express her own feelings. The two songs hold a lot of Matilda's personal vulnerability, a type of sensitivity that she says is challenging to express on its own, but combats through music. Giving a very real, honest response that just rounds out Matilda as a pure human at her very core.
"I'm really good at talking about things that have happened to me, but I'm not good at talking about how I feel. And that's what songwriting is for, for me. That's why Elbows and 1972 hit so hard, because I will probably never be able to say that out loud for the rest of my life... probably--"
"Actually, no. I'm not going to put myself in a box here, it is entirely possible for me to say those things. However, I'm a little tweaky about it [laughs]. So it might take a hot minute, it just comes out quicker in lyric form."
During the live performances of Elbows and 1972, the intimate songs are amplified even more given the stripped down versions, Matilda really only using a guitar. Though the environment adds to the raw performance, there's nothing like seeing an artist live on stage, where all the energy builds up and then the lights dim, the audience goes quiet, and the performer comes on, a reality Matilda is familiar with.
She'd been performing since she was around 6 or 7 years old, and recalls being asked if the "stage is her home", where she laughs and says that it's not, but that it's just a part of her job.
"It's that rush that you get every time. I don't ever get anxious about it, but I definitely do get a little jittery sometimes. I think people who say that they don't get stage fright mean that they're not caring about it, and I care so much."
The ways in which Matilda is knowingly fostering her own vessel of expression is more telling when talking about performing her music live. Any Youtube video of Matilda performing live showcases the care and quality of the work she wants to put out into her shows. The majority of people who enjoy music don't realize how expensive it can be to put on a show, an insight into the industry that she goes on to say. But that's what makes these performances so sacred, especially to Matilda and her bandmates.
"At the end of the day, it's such an out of body experience for me. And quite frankly, it's the only time, when in the whole process of everything, where my brain is quiet. And I'm just thinking about what I'm doing and what's in front of me.
It's crazy, because I'm never like that. But once I step out there, everything's all good, and everything's calm. A big part of it is also feeling really supported by the people I'm on stage with. That being said, it's definitely a unique experience that I haven't been able to compare it to anything else yet. But it's beautiful."
Life Beyond The Melodies
While it's fascinating to discuss Matilda's approach to the music industry, and her successes and impacts, it's worth exploring the capacities outside the bubble of the genre to really understand the roots where she came from, and how she spends her time past the surface of the musician's life.
Between being the on-call therapist for her friends, studying to get her driver's license, and worshiping the artist, Mk.Gee, Matilda appears like any other 20-year-old. When asked what keeps her occupied outside the realm of music, she doesn't hesitate to answer with the various things she loves: Sex and the City, styling friends, thrifting, cooking, and hanging out with her parents. All of which are reflected through Matilda's social media, where you'd also see how she dresses and, more notably, how her clothes reflect the person behind the artistry.
"I think that every time you put on an outfit to do something, you should feel a little bit more swag."
Matilda also revealed that she works a 9-5 as a stylist in New York, where she learned the importance of wearing clothes that reflect who you are.
"I realized that personal style and finding your personal style, was being able to identify the things in the outfits I put together, that was like-- it takes me back to when I was a little kid where I'd walk on the street in New York and I would look at people and be like, 'Oh my god, they look so cool', and I imagine I'm that person and little me is on the street."
Matilda claims that, with her personal style being all over the place, she enjoys making people confused about what she can wear one day and then the next, having outfits come from all types of polar directions.
"I'm kinda just finding the sweetspot between all the different phases that I've been through now. Which I think is the encapsulation of personal style. I'm sure it'll change and I'll have more obsessions later, but right now it's like I'm right smack in the middle of every obsession I've had since high school."
With the countless fit pics and photo dumps across her Instagram, it's no secret that Matilda loves her friends. Almost every other post includes one of her friends, and when brought up she gushes about them. Her voice lightens and a bright smile wipes her face clean, remembering memorable moments that are displayed on her feed.
"Dude, I'm just so in love with my friends. It's crazy."
Whether it be a casual dinner party or celebrating a birthday, the importance of friendship is rooted in Matilda, especially when her fellow music friends receive success.
"If anything, I'm excited for my friends when cool stuff happens to them, even when it could've happened for me. If one of us wins, we all win, and vice versa. That's just how life is for me.
I wouldn't integrate anybody into my life or inner circles who wouldn't feel that way. If you wanna be in a competition or wanna play a game, that's great, I'm not gonna stop you, but you're not gonna be a part of our life. All the love!"
What To Expect Next
As we wrapped up the remainder of the interview, Matilda kept the endearing smile up until the end when she said her delightful goodbyes, with the same suave, almost too-cool demeanor that possessed the entirety of our conversation, but didn't get in the way of learning more about who Matilda Marigolds is and what makes her whole. A humbleness that is gracefully granted to this young and talented person, whom the Teen Magazine had the upmost gratitude in talking to.
While there's some talk about new music coming, Matilda has been working on a new EP featuring Time 2 Go as the opening track. Though there is no official release, we're hopeful it's coming soon. She hinted at a new song dropping called 'Head in the Sand', where a snippet of it is featured on Matilda's Instagram. An experimental sounding song that is a direction Matilda seems to be exploring with her new music.
While there is little to date, it's wise to keep your eyes out for Matilda to announce more projects and even potentially shows and tour dates, as she keeps growing a larger reach into the world. It's difficult to predict her next move, but that's what makes her stand out as a unique individual who has so much to say and do. She follows what she wants and goes after it, a quality that I hope never lacks when it comes to her music and her drive as a person.
Witnessing her on this journey makes it exciting for the future, since there's no question she will reach far beyond the life envisioned, and aren't we all so lucky to watch just the beginning? I know I am.
Follow Matilda on Instagram, where you can seek outfit inspiration and announcements for future projects! Stream Matilda's music and look out for Head in the Sand!