$12

Mattiel, Calvin Love

Casbah Presents
21+

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Soda Bar

3615 El Cajon Blvd

San Diego, CA 92104

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Mattiel, Calvin Love LIVE at Soda Bar

About this Event

Watching her onstage, that brown bob of hers whirling like a cyclone as she unleashes her

brash and husky riot of a voice, it’s hard to imagine Mattiel Brown was ever anything but a

natural-born performer, a tried-and-true self-empowered presence.

“Honestly though I never even believed I could do this,” Mattiel, one of rock’s most thrilling

young talents, says. Still, dig deep and she’ll admit to those times when she’d let herself dream:

of one day stepping onstage, gripping that microphone and showcasing her skills. Then, she

imagined, could at last let it all go, unleash that deep-seeded passion of hers for melody and

rhythm and intricate storytelling and channel her pent-up ferocity into something real and

palpable and powerful.

“But,” adds the singer, whose youth was shaped by an eclectic range of

music - from folk to punk and hip-hop - and who for years only sang by herself in private, “I

remember thinking all along, “Yeah, I would love to do that but it’s out of my wheelhouse, right?”

Mattiel pauses and smiles as if to say she now knows she was capable of becoming a masterful

frontwoman all along. “I guess I just really had to break out of my skin.”

It’s a damn good thing she did: following encouragement from Jack White during a

chance encounter in Nashville with her chief musical inspiration and eventual touring partner,

Mattiel made the crucial decision to jumpstart her musical journey by writing and recording with

Jonah Swilley and Randy Michael — two contributors who’s songwriting is rooted in gospel,

rock n’ soul, hip-hop and new wave. Less than five years later Mattiel stands as one of the most

singular and buzzed-about acts in rock music. She is no longer a teenager afraid to sing in front

of strangers, but rather performing for rapt audiences across the globe in the wake of her

acclaimed eponymous 2017 debut LP, released via Burger Records; wowing viewers with their

fiery TV shows like last year on “Later… With Jools Holland” and more recently “Last Call With

Carson Daly”. And now, she’s gearing up to release her highly anticipated second album, Satis

Factory.

“It’s all still wild to me,” Mattiel admits with a laugh of her whirlwind past two years.

“It’s so incredible knowing I’ve invested my time in something that has really started to work.”

Swilley chuckles when hearing of the singer’s typically humble take on the

present day. Having become Mattiel’s most trusted musical ally and bandmate

since they first began writing together in 2014, he’s seen her evolution firsthand.

“I believed in her from the get-go,” Swilley says. “Because when you hear her sing” - a blend of

Grace Slick and Screamin' Jay Hawkins with the ferocity of a punk-rock head-Thrasher - “you

instantly know it’s for real.”

Mattiel, for her part, is hardly one to sing her own praises. But having seen their debut album

(released on iconic indie Heavenly in the UK and Europe) be so embraced by such wellrespected

outlets like the BBC’s Radio 6Music , even she can let herself admit her collaborators

may have been right all along. “Randy and Jonah were so confident about how well my debut

would be received,” she recalls. “They were like, ‘The real music fans are going to get this.’ And

they were right.

While she may be patting herself on the back, Mattiel’s recent success has most

importantly given her the confidence and creative ammunition to go for broke on Satis Factory.

To Swilley’s ear, the album is “a true rock n’ roll record,” with timeless influences ranging from

The Clash to The Velvet Underground and even hints of Roger Miller. “It was a completely

different experience than the first album,” he says. “It was a lot more about trying new sounds

out and putting weird keyboards through amps. It was a little more experimental where we’re

having fun playing with different sounds.”

Mattiel acknowledges their new LP is a hard-hitting and occasionally bruising affair, what with

her voice regularly sizzling above searing, serpentine guitars (“Heck Fire”). But on a deeper

level, she says, the album is a collection of highly personal and thematic stories.

Satis Factory, she explains, nods to the never-ending search for self-gratification. And until

recently, having worked full-time as a graphic designer for technology firm MailChimp while

simultaneously pursuing her musical dreams, it’s a struggle she knows well.

“I spent about a solid year-and-a half juggling both jobs full-time,” she explains, and the idea of

finding pleasure in the process of self-discovery is a concept she directly explores on the

reverb-drenched “Millionaire.” The first song she penned for the album, the droney jolt of selfreflection

directly wrestles with her love-hate relationship with the voyage to personal and

creative fulfillment. “Some people become satisfied doing one thing for a very long time, and

don’t have the motivation to pursue anything else,” Mattiel says of the impetus for “Millionaire.”

“But I’m happiest when I’m continually searching for that satisfaction even though I may never

reach it. Because if I’ve totally reached it, I know I’m doing something wrong. It means I’ve

become too comfortable.” Moments later, a similar sentiment is dished up on the garage rocker

“Berlin Weekend,” with Mattiel snarling, “And when the time comes to get down and invest/Get

the same house and the same yard and a white picket fence/What now and what then when

you’ve got a means to an end?/ What are you gonna do then?”

For Mattiel, learning to honor her achievements remains a work in progress; it’s something she

admits to only acknowledging when onstage and hearing her lyrics sung back to her by her

ever-growing audience. “I wish that I had more time to enjoy the “It’s all happening” part,” she

says, “but I’m busy doing so many different things.”

Yes, despite her growing profile the self-admitted perfectionist has remained extremely handson

with all facets of her career. “It’s very hard for me to give someone free creative reign on

something unless I know them very well,” Mattiel admits. To that end, alongside filmmaker

Jason Travis, the multi-talented artist served as the food stylist, location scout, wardrobe stylist,

and prop buyer for the music video to the album’s single “Food for Thought.” Shot at a farm

house in Alabama, and finding the singer devouring plates of colorful 70’s cookbook creations,

Mattiel says shooting the video “felt like I was back in the design studio with Jason — we’re both

able to fill the role of about 10 crew members when we put our heads together.” In other words,

this is comfortable territory.

And now, despite the excitement surrounding Satis Factory and a forthcoming tour of North

American and Europe that kicks off in May at Third Man Records and finds the group gigging in

locales from Montreal to Madrid, she and her longtime musical compatriots are keeping their

eyes forward.

“We’re just trying to keep on challenging ourselves and put ourselves in uncomfortable

situations to make good music,” Swilley offers of Mattiel’s promising future. “This is something I

always thought I had inside me,” Mattiel says. “I suppose when the time was right these things

fell into place as they should.”

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Date and Time

Location

Soda Bar

3615 El Cajon Blvd

San Diego, CA 92104

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