Check out the Atlanta musician’s playlist, and learn the meaning behind the title of her new record, Satis Factory.
“Keep the Change,” the lead single from Mattiel’s upcoming sophomore LP, Satis Factory, sees the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter at her irresistible best. From the very first line, she delivers her lyrics with husky gravitas. In the pre-chorus, she snarls, “When I throw my weight / I never throw it crooked / I always throw it straight,” craning her voice to hit “crooked.” Eventually, the song builds to a powerful, strutting peak: In the last thirty seconds, Mattiel belts the refrain “I’ve wasted all my time / don’t pay me any mind” against crackling guitar and driving bass. But it’s her voice that carries the song.
Mattiel is Mattiel Brown, a Mailchimp-staffer-turned-rock-star who made a name for herself with her 2017 self-titled debut LP and her 2019 Customer Copy EP, both produced by Jonah Swilley and Randy Michael and released on Burger Records. She teamed up with Swilley and Michael again on Satis Factory, which is out next month.
We recently caught up with Mattiel about her new record and asked her to share a playlist with us.
“I compiled this playlist with Jonah,” Mattiel told AdHoc in an email. “We sat down during some off time in Nashville and it’s really just what we’re both listening to right now.”
Where are you right now?
I’m at home, editing color on this next music video we have coming out on May 15th.
Have you worked on your own music videos before?
Yeah, [it’s] usually me and a director that I know very well. I’m usually co-directing and almost always editing at the end. I’m big on video editing.
Am I right that you have a background in visual arts?
Yeah, I worked for Mailchimp for five years on their design team, and pretty much learned everything I know from dropping out of school and working at Mailchimp.
Was that graphic design?
Yeah, but I also did [other types of] studio work. I did illustration work for them; I did studio photography for ads; I came up with concepts for promotional campaigns. Things like that.
Do you feel like your visual art practice and your music practice have anything in common or come from the same place?
Yeah, my processes are somewhat similar, and I don’t really differentiate the two. They go hand in hand, and it’s nice that I don’t have to do a lot of hiring. I get to hire my friends when I need help with something, [which is] great.
Where are you based right now?
Would you say you’re part of a music or arts scene?
The arts and design scene here is really lacking. It’s easy to stand out in Atlanta, because there’s not a whole lot going on. There’s [some] rock & roll. There’s some punk bands out of Atlanta—obviously, Black Lips. There’s some indie, like Deerhunter, but everything else is hip-hop.
It’s special to be from a place where Outkast is from, because I can listen to Outkast and hear Andre 3000 come on the radio in Belgium and I’m like, “I know what he’s talking about! I know where he lives!”
When were you writing and recording your new record?
Primarily last year—2018.
What was that process like?
The process was very similar to the first album. I was working with Jonah Swilley and Randy Michael. They will write a song structure for me, and I’ll spend however long I need writing the melodies and the lyrics. But the sound on the next record is a lot more experimental, and I think I sound a lot more confident on it than the first one.
Did you feel more confident?
Was that because you’ve been doing this longer, or because you were writing from a different place?
I never thought that anyone would respond to the first record—not because I thought it was bad, but just because “Why would anybody want to hear what I have to say?” was how I felt for the first record. But Randy and Jonah always said that the real guys are going to get this, they’re going to understand this, and they were right—they did. Of course anybody would be more confident if your work is starting to get noticed.
How did you first get connected to Randy and Michael?
I sent Randy a message, because he was really the only person in town that I knew of who was making the kind of music that I wanted to make.
What was he doing at that time?
He had a band called The Booze that was really a Rolling Stones-sounding kind of thing. I wanted to do something a little less nostalgic. But he has all kinds of musical knowledge; it’s not just based around rock & roll. Jonah and him have a breadth of knowledge that spans from the beginnings of hip-hop, [to] jazz and soul. It’s all over the place.
Does the record have any themes?
Yes, I called it Satis Factory, which is based around the idea of constant creation, finding your own sense of happiness within that, and having to keep making. So satis is the Latin word for enough, and factory represents continuation or a production line. We search for satisfaction in everything we do, but we never find it, which is why we keep doing it. I think that’s a really cool thing—a really good thing. You want that. That continuous production of work. The actual process of it is where you find your happiness.
Are there any people who come to mind as recent influences or inspirations?
Weyes Blood and Kevin Morby. And I really love the visuals that Solange is putting out.
Why do you think those people are top of mind?
Weyes [Blood] is talking a lot about important issues such as climate change. Kevin Morby has some pretty interesting existential poetry on his album Oh My God.
You’re about to come to New York for a few shows. Have you spent much time here?
Yeah, I am fairly familiar with the layout of the city. My mom lived in Manhattan for 15 years before I was born, so she has shown me the lay of the land.
Anything you’re looking forward to on this upcoming tour or in New York?
I’ve seen all the tourist shit years and years ago, but I would like to go and get some dim sum at Nam Won [Tea Parlor].
“Warm Blindness & A Cool Breeze” – Calvin Love
“OMG Rock n Roll” – Kevin Morby
“Anything Could Happen” – The Clean
“Strange Powers” – The Magnetic Fields
“Don’t Go To Strangers” – J.J. Cale
“Wild in the Streets” – Garland Jeffreys
“The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” – The White Stripes
“White Light/White Heart” – The Velvet Underground
“Here Comes My Baby” – Yusuf / Cat Stevens
“So Long, Marianne” – Leonard Cohen
Stream the whole playlist below.