At just 18 years old, Mathilda otherwise known as Mafalda Costa, has been named TimeOut Portugal’s ‘one to watch’ of 2018 and has already been booked for major UK festival, Liverpool Sound City, after coming back from a summer-long tour.
Guestlist sat down for a chat on how she is staying young, wild and free without giving in to the pressures of early success.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and more importantly who Mathilda is?
Mathilda is my alter persona, it’s a different version of Mafalda. I’m staying true to myself because Mafalda and Mathilda come from the same word Mahalta, which is fun! But, it is important to me to have this border between me and my music.
Once you have an alter persona, it becomes your shield.
My songs are very personal and once you have an alter persona, it becomes your shield. I feel less vulnerable with the intimacies of my life behind this mask.
What made you get into music?
I can remember that when I was younger my brother was very judgemental of me listening to ‘mainstream pop’ so I began listening to ‘real music’ when I was 11. I was picking up on the songs they were listening to. I came across folk, and it really stuck with me. The first band I really liked was Daughter. That’s when I can say I got into music.
I think I got into the idea of singing when I started getting compliments on my voice.
It is kind of funny because I didn’t like my voice at first
It is kind of funny because I didn’t like my voice at first but then, one of my friends learnt how to play one of Daughter’s songs on the piano and I sang it and she was like ‘Oh your voice is very similar, that’s so cool!’ That kind of made me question maybe I do have a good voice after all.
It wasn’t anything that clicked in my head that wow, good voice, music career. I just recognised that and kept on going with my life.
What was the monumental moment, when you remember thinking, yes, I want this as a career and I could do this as a career?
During the first years of exploring who Mathilda is, I went on this music residency. It was only for young people. I was there for two weeks with a friend. We learnt a song to perform for our mentor at the residency and some other woman in the audience and she… started crying!
It really moved me. I think it added to who Mathilda is. It really took my dedication to music from this is a nice thing to do to I really need to do this!
You recently released your second single, ‘Small Fish Lilac Skies’, which is going to be part of your upcoming album? Tell me a little bit more about that.
I wrote the new single right before I came here. It really came from my feelings of uncertainty about moving. I didn’t know what to expect and at the back of my mind there was a looming thought that I was making the wrong decision and leaving my career behind.
It was a weird feeling which I was struggling with and at the same time. Whilst watching this movie in which the main characters says: “Why is it when the sky is black I feel blue?” It really sparked an idea. I wrote the whole single off the back of that, it felt relevant to the way I felt.
Do you feel the pressure of being young in the music industry?
I definitely feel young in the industry but I don’t feel the pressure. The fact that I am young never challenged me, if anything it’s made my career a little bit easier since it’s a great selling point.
Being young in music me more comfortable making mistakes
Being young in music me more comfortable making mistakes because it means I can still learn. It’s a mindset I’d like to always live by, that I will always have something to learn but I like the fact that I have this cushion.
What do you think of the industry's pressure to be successful young?
I define success as being able to do whatever I want to and having the freedom to chose not to do things, also.I’m not successful right now. The thing is, there’s a lot of stages to being ‘successful’ and I recognise that it isn't easy to earn that freedom.
There is absolutely no pressure for me to ‘succeed’. My talent will not run away from me.
There is absolutely no pressure for me to ‘succeed’ just because I’m a ‘young’ artist. My talent will not run away from me.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt so far?
I guess, addressing my fear before moving which was the feeling that I’m leaving my career behind. I realised that I love music, I am my music. I’ll be making it my entire life so taking three years to study something that will make me a more complete professional is not wasting time.
What’s your main goal for the rest of this year?
The goal for the rest of this year is to perform at Liverpool Sound City and tour again in the summer. I’m also still working on my album and the concept for it, so that’s a big goal for this year.
Check out Liverpool Sound City's line-up here, listen to her latest single on Spotify and stay updated on what's next for Mathilda on Facebook.