When thinking of Atlanta, most view the Georgia capital as a breeding ground for hip-hop music. Despite this common stereotype, Atlanta-based rock artist Mattiel Brown has risen to the forefront.
Two years after releasing her self-titled album, Brown has quit her day job as a creative designer, scheduled a European tour and prepared for a summer release.
The Daily Texan sat down with the musical and visual artist to discuss her artistic approach and upcoming works.
Daily Texan: What first got you into music?
Mattiel: My mom had a cool record collection and I listened to it when I was little. I never really did music series seriously. I'm not one of those artists that says, “I've been doing this since I was four years old.” Mostly, my career has been visual design, so I was just doing this as a side venture to put my creativity somewhere where I had control over it.
DT: Atlanta is known as a scene for hip-hop. Was there any ever any trouble establishing your own sound in a city with such a hip-hop connection?
M: I have more of an audience in Europe and in the UK than I do in Atlanta, and it's completely different. I go and play shows in London and people know the music and I can sing the words with them. That does not happen in Atlanta. And I don't fault Atlanta for that. It’s just the way it is. But I do appreciate the hip-hop history in Atlanta.
DT: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a growing artist?
M: Dealing with my own anxieties in my own head. Everything that's gone on with the people that are helping me and who are there for me is has been very smooth and very good, generally speaking. But there's a lot of internal conflict that comes with, like, decision-making. It's a challenging thing to get through the day and get work done. And in your head you're like, “Is this going to work out?”
DT: What do you want listeners to get from your music?
M: I want listeners to interpret songs however they want to. It’s silly to try to push a narrative. In interviews, maybe I'll give one or two things of a concept behind an album and the meaning of one or two songs or a few little hits like that, but I'd like people to interpret it however they they will. That's like the magic of music. You get to put it out there and you don't own it anymore.
DT: Do you see yourself going back to creative design?
M: I just made the switch. This is what's working in my life right now, and this is what I'm going to pursue because it's working. If it stops working at some point, it's up to me to recognize that it's not working anymore and I have to go and — I guess — be a cattle rancher, or do something different. But it's really working right now, so I'm really into it. Music is important to me, but so are other creative parts of my life (such as) visuals and making things with my hands. So I get to mix the two right now because I'm doing both for this project. I still get to do all that design work at the same time as the music, so I'm not really losing anything or changing anything. I'm just me. You know, it's cool.