The next singer-songwriter to turn moments into melodies.
“I learn to play guitar to try and impress [a girl].” Matt Wills readily admits what most artists are too cool (or pretentious) to reveal. While he rolls a cigarette, I’m quizzing Wills about what drew him to music; ultimately, it’s the opposite sex, and a throwback obsession with The Kooks. “I used to sit and learn their songs, and write my lyrics on top of it,” he chuckles. He dabbled in rap battles at school too — something he’s seriously embarrassed about — but the “party trick” was superseded (thankfully) by his urge to impress the ladies with his skills on a six-string and his dulcet tones.
Wills’ sound functions as his public diary, with a back catalogue of tracks that traverse through his experiences in life and love. “I’m one of those people who really struggles with talking about their feelings. I always say everything as a joke and never say anything serious,” instantaneously he erupts into laughter. “I’m such a soppy person, I’m like Hugh Grant.” I’m sold, we’ve all imagined Bridget Jones era Grant serenading us, right? “Each one of my songs is about a person, or a moment in my life,” Wills continues on the translation of his life into lyrics. “They’re all moments in time.”
With serious (and extremely coveted) backing from BBC Introducing, where he made it onto the playlist without any prior coverage, Wills owes a lot to social media and the internet. Just don’t assume that means he’s down to be “Instagram famous”. “Social media is a verification of your status now,” he quips before going in on those who aspire to that life, “I just don’t give a fuck!”
Offline, Wills’ live shows are infinitely more engaging than your ‘gram feed. For his headline show at Servant Jazz Quarters, he hired an owl to keep watch. Yes, an actual owl. “I want to be different!” Wills exclaims. “That’s the whole vibe. Who else has an owl outside their venue? Not Coldplay!”
After the release of his “Set You Free” EP, it might be time for Wills to invest in some more heavy-duty bouncers. Upping the production and creating more intricate melodies than ever before, Wills is clocking in hundreds of thousands of plays online. “Realising that more people are hearing my music, that’s been the biggest thing,” he beams of his 2016 highlight. Get used to it Wills, there’s much more to come.
Matt’s new single, “Emily” is out now. Catch him at London’s Omeara on 25th May.