When the UK entered lockdown in early 2020, Matt Maltese set about looking for the small pockets of joy in the toughest of times. Splitting his time between his bedroom in south London and the Eastbourne coast, he created his third studio album ‘Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow’, which is set for release on October 8 via Nettwerk.
Observing how humans carried on despite the unfathomable tragedy of the pandemic, Maltese found a form of escapism through writing songs about resilient Britishness, love’s silly side and how, despite everything, society is still moving forward.
In the latest edition of NME’s In Conversation series, the singer/songwriter discusses ‘Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow’, finding joy in turbulent times and becoming TikTok-famous. Here’s what we learned.
Maltese’s third album is his most hopeful yet
Maltese wrote ‘Good Morning It’s Now Tomorrow’ in his bedroom in south London during lockdown. Given the isolated nature of both lockdowns and working solo, you might expect this album to encapsulate feelings of helplessness and sadness – but, curiously, it’s quite the opposite.
“I’d say it’s probably my most hopeful album, which is maybe quite strange considering the times,” Maltese told us. “But I was just trying to escape from everything.
“There’s a lot of incredible humanity shown in these times, and I guess it also kind of made you really realise what you had to be grateful for. It brought everything home in terms of how lucky I was just to be in my room even writing songs, for God’s sake! And it was a sort of coming together of people, despite everything, which was great”.
He’s writing about love in a different way
July single ‘Shoe’ sees Maltese writing about love from a new perspective. Moving away from his more apocalyptic and yearning ballads, ‘Shoe’ adopts a more cutesy and sincere tone with Maltese writing about deep affection in a more “ridiculous” way.
“It’s sort of got this warped, idealistic view of love. Again, I felt there was something quite escapist in the nature of that song. It’s like the ideal form of love, this sort of ‘togetherness’ thing, which definitely happens in love, but it’s also a bit nuts”.
The lyrics in this march of love walk the line between silly and serious: “I wanna walk around you like a child in a museum / I wanna be beside you like a guide at the Colosseum / You’re my right shoe, I’m your left shoe / We stand together”.
He thinks TikTok is bizarre, but he loves it
“I don’t even do anything on TikTok!” Maltese laughs. “I just drink a cup of coffee and watch a video of someone, and that gets more views than a music video I spent three weeks planning. It feels like just the biggest shitposting platform in the world – and I think that’s amazing.”
While Maltese is receiving acclaim for his latest singles, it’s an older song of his that has now blown up to receive over 2.5 million spins per week – and it’s all thanks to TikTok. ‘As The World Caves In’, a song first released in 2017, has become a firm favourite of his new legion of young fans on the app, where it soundtracks dozens of videos each day and has contributed to Maltese reaching 8 million likes on the platform.
finally got to sing my song with the amazing @sarahcothran
“With that song, it initially seemed to be a lot of people just screaming to the audio,” he says. “And then it sort of attached itself to anime, then the Harry Potter fandom picked it up and it just went through all these phases. Then this artist called Sarah Cothran covered it and it sort of started this trend of people just covering the chorus. It went from bizarre to more bizarre. I couldn’t have predicted that at all. But it was really nice to watch it happen”.
While many artists have turned their noses up at TikTok, Maltese sees the good in it. “It feels to me that TikTok is breaking down the gatekeepers. TikTok feels like, in the most ridiculous way, the most democratic consumer of music at the moment.”
Maltese was a melodramatic teenager
Maltese consumed an “unhealthy amount” of Leonard Cohen while growing up and took inspiration from crooners like Chet Baker. Anything jazz-leaning – an influence which can be heard in Maltese’s music – was his bread and butter. The singer/songwriter also had a huge passion for Nina Simone and other amazing songwriters who, in his words, played “beautiful wilting melodies over interesting chords”.
“Anyone that was singing about dark things was something that I, as a very melodramatic teen, took a lot of comfort in,” he says, adding: “I would have been awful if I’d had TikTok as a teenager”.
He wants to collaborate more with other artists in the future
Maltese recently worked with singer/songwriter Joy Crookes on the title track of her debut album, ‘Skin’.
“She’s a hero of mine. She’s just an incredible artist”, Maltese says. “It’s just been one of the greatest privileges through this time as well to write for other people, and that song with Joy is definitely a massive highlight for me”.
Collaborating and songwriting for other artists are both things that Maltese is relatively new to, but he plans to do more to combat the “self-obsessiveness of songwriting too much for yourself” and over-analysing his thoughts in isolation.
“I was so isolated when I made my own albums, which is kind of the way it has to be, and I’m cool with it. But it was an eye-opener to be in a room with people and be like, ‘This can actually be fun!’” he reflects. “It doesn’t have to be so emotionally draining. So it’s something that I’d definitely like to do for a long time.”