Mathilde Nobel, becoming a musician on the art academy
+- 10 min
Hey Mathilde, nice to speak to you! How have you been these last few months?
Hi! Well, thank you for doing this interview. The past 6 months have turned my world upside down and I’ve been busier than ever but I love it. I do the things I love while surrounded by people who believe in me. It’s insane and I am very grateful.
Congratulations on the release of your debut EP. How do you feel about releasing the music you’ve been working on for so long?
I think Unreal is the best word to describe it. After working so hard and private on my music, my songs are finally ready to be thrown into the world and it’s a thing now. The songs now have the ability to reach out and float along or maybe go against ‘the flow’. I really like to think these songs can be autonomous creations (or creatures?)
As you already mentioned, you’ve told me you’ve been quietly producing for some years now, but never really told people about it, what made you decide to release your music?
I secretly wanted to share my music really bad but for some reason, I felt like the songs were not ‘art’ or had too many references to pop. So in my head, I couldn’t think of them (the songs) as a thing. I didn’t think of myself as a musician but always wanted to succeed as a visual artist and that always bothered me somehow. One moment, towards graduating from the art academy, I had this conversation with one of my teachers where I confessed how scared I was to share my music, and how I felt there was no such place for my somewhat poppy songs in this ‘high arts’ culture. He invited me to organize an evening where all the other students from all years could listen to my music. And it sucked. We were sitting in this white cube setting, everyone was quiet, and afterwards everyone was asking critical questions as if it was an art evaluation of a painting (except for one friend who got my back, love you, Paul). God, I was so angry. After this event, there was this energy where I felt like my songs deserved more, like you know, people actually moving or dancing? And after that decision, corona came along and I got all the time in the world and was producing music like never before.
You combine bass-heavy, low BPM beats with your own singing and experimental percussions. To me, the tracks almost have a “Goth” element to them. How would you best describe your sound for people who haven’t heard your tracks?
It’s really nice that you point out this goth element! I would rather say ’emotional electronic music’. This emo vibe is really pure and I get really inspired by music from artists like Bring Me The Horizon, and how vocals can be used as an expressive instrument (like screaming). At the same time, singers like Jesca Hoop and Regina Spektor who have a more classical way of using vocals were also very important for me while growing up and developing my own style. And for the beats and electronic sounds, I just love to have different layers talking and reacting to each other. Like the percussion is more of a language or a poem. At the same time, the music is not theoretical, like what I just explained, but always made with feeling and intuition.
In ‘Thunder’, the bass you used sounds like an acoustic snare instrument. Did you use any instruments to create a certain aesthetic? If so, what instruments did you use? If not, what did you do to create these sounds?
This bassline is all synthetic and I am so proud of ‘Thunder’, because a lot of people think the bass is made with a physical instrument. It’s just produced in Fruity, and I have no recollection of how I made this bass. When I produce a song, I just drift away into the song and then 8 hours later, I slowly wake up from this trip. Especially with ‘Thunder’, I found myself in the shower (how iconic) singing the lyrics, rushing out of the bathroom, and went into production mode. So no, I didn’t use any instruments but my voice and laptop.
What inspired you to make this EP? Are there any personal themes translated in the music you’d like to talk about?
So after the trip of making the music, here comes reflection. Although a lot of things come intuitively, there is a certain theme that always comes back and it’s a combination of how to look at history and how to feel it. For example, ‘Stone’ is about how this iconic object is generally seen as dead or non-responsive since a stone does not directly talk back or have any human traits. Yet, stones have been here for millions of years, have traveled multiple times all over the world, and have been in all different states of being. With this in mind, ‘Stone’ is really about how I want to expand my view on how history vibrates in everything, in stones, in the song, in me (my bones). At the same time, Thunder touches more of a mythological theme and A is the straight-up feels.
You have a degree in fine arts and next to being a musician you’re also, and maybe foremost, a visual artist. Are you also still active in these disciplines? How do you see Mathilde the musician and Mathilde the visual artist collaborate?
After I graduated, things just went really fast. I got in touch with Milo van Buijtene, the owner of Draaimolen festival, at the graduation exhibition. He put me in touch with Intercept and now, being a musician is the thing I do. The last years of studying fine arts meant the opposite for me, working with paintings, film and 3D animation all day, and sometimes producing some music. But now, it’s reversed. Even though I need to figure out how to balance my needs of all the disciplines I practice, I try my best to combine music and art. I made this video clip for ‘Stone’ and it feels connected, like the music and visuals are working together instead of just as a support for one another. In the future, I would really like to discover how I can create a whole new world where music and art meet.
What was the most fun part of making this EP?
The most fun part was actually also the most difficult one. Using my vocals as clear and heavy as they could be. Letting my voice be upfront instead of some Ah’s and Oeh’s left and right. I also loved the mixing process with help from Raynor de Groot (aka Coloray) and Milo where I did not only learn a lot of the technical aspects of producing but also accepting that these songs have potency and a right to be a part of me now.
Is there something you look forward to in the future creatively?
Yes! I’ve been working on a liveshow and would love to perform for the first time in my life. And as I said earlier, I would really like to try out how to combine visuals with performing my music.