Matilda Mård’s Many Voices Speak project started in a karaoke bar in Borlänge, where she had moved to after feeling a need to escape Stockholm a couple of years ago. Singing in that bar gave her her musical confidence and inspiration back, and she used that inspiration to write dreamy, graceful pop music. After she debuted with the Away For All Time EP in 2016, she’s now released her debut full-length album, Tank Town. We met her ahead of her Stockholm show to talk about it.
So, with the debut album out now, does it feel like a lot has passed since the Many Voices Speak project started to find life in a karaoke bar in Borlänge?
In some ways I’ve experienced it as a long-spun process to release music. Since my personal experiences are pretty much what’s being reflected in the music, the released material (naturally) tends to fall behind life itself. But if I focus on the project only it really gives me the feeling that a lot has passed, with everyone involved around it whom I didn’t even know existed three years ego. The people that are involved today, whom I didn’t know existed just three years ago, really gives me the feeling that a lot has passed.
What’s the usual songwriting process for a Many Voices Speak song? Do you start writing on a piano?
Yes, that’s where I find myself every time I have a new melody or lyrics in my brain that I want to elaborate, but also when I start from nothing. Usually I test several variations of a song for a longer period, till I get the feeling that the song is what it is ‘meant to be’. Then I let Petter Nygårdh do what he wants with the production, and he usually spends some time on his own with the song before I join in. Partly because my producer head doesn’t really activate before there is something to respond to, but also because of the excitement in hearing the song in a whole new spirit. That’s my absolute favourite part of the process.
How was it different to set about writing an album, as opposed to an EP? Was it difficult to settle down to work on a longer project? Or is it easier, as you’d already had a positive reception to the EP, so had more confidence in the MVS concept?
It wasn’t that different to me. Both the EP and Tank Town were driven by a need to express certain things for the first time, that couldn’t be held in any longer. Because of that I’ve been quite uncompromising considering expectations for example. It wasn’t until we produced the songs that I started thinking about keeping a certain sound from the EP on the album, to make it to an extension of it. The experience of writing an album with a decided theme sonically and lyrically is still something that’s in the future for me in other words, and I’m really looking forward to that kind of starting point, now that I’ve had the chance to ‘clean my system’.
You said around the album you were “thinking of places where neither nature or civilisation are preserved”. This reminded me of your album and single artwork for Tank Town, which features images of industrial structures in rural spaces. Was that your thinking with the artwork, and if not what was the idea behind it? It’s quite striking.
It was, since the theme of the album is a metaphor itself, I wanted the artwork to reflect it as literally as possible. I saw photographer Hayley Eichenbaum’s collection The Mother Road and thought she’d really captured that desolated and yet romantic atmosphere that these places represent for me.
You’ve mentioned that the title of the album refers to a mental state of processing memories and ideas of what’s to come. The dreamy-ness of the music, combined with that lyrical style, gives the album a really fluid feel, it kind of blurs between the past, future and present, ideas, experiences and memories. Was that style what you were trying to capture with this record?
This being the linkage of the album, has probably to do with the circumstances around me back then. The songs were written during the first year after I’d settled down in the countryside, when I was physically distanced from all the people and places that had ever affected me. The act of moving there was a part of the crisis that Necessaries has come to represent. So the surrounding has affected it a lot. There wasn’t any attempt to find this connection on beforehand.
Had It stands out on the album. Whereas a lot of the songs tend to go for the small and intimate, Had It feels grand in scale, there’s so much space and power in it. Can you tell us a little more about that song?
I think that’s true. It was one of the first tracks to be finished for the album. When Petter started producing Had It he said there was something grand about the raw demo that he wanted to keep in the production. Therefor we decided to make the instrumentation quite minimalistic. The final result had something that reminded us of Away For all Time, and at first we thought this track would set the tone for the rest of the record, but it ended up rather being a stepping stone that paved the way for explorations that took the album in new directions.
How does the live show look at the moment? What can we expect from the Obaren gig?
I’ll have three friends with me on stage that, who all have participated in the recording of Tank Town in different ways. It will be our first headline show in Stockholm after the release, so you can expect four very excited people on stage.
Photo: Olof Grind