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Time Transcendent with Mattiel Brown

Time & Space

Time Transcendent with Mattiel Brown

Posted on 04/10/24

BREDA delves into Mattiel Brown’s artistic journey, exploring her music, visual art, and personal evolution, including Mattiel's relocation to Italy and her experiences with how time has influenced her creativity. Mattiel wears Pulse (Tandem) in Gold.

The bond between BREDA and Mattiel Brown was first formed on January 24, 2020. On that memorable night at Three Links in Deep Ellum, Mattiel and her band mesmerized the audience with their music. In the packed venue, Mattiel performed songs from their 2019 album Satis Factory and hits from their self-titled album released in 2017. Their sound blends vintage and contemporary influences, characterized by raw energy, soulful vocals, and a retro aesthetic. Drawing inspiration from various musical genres and decades, Mattiel’s music seamlessly fuses blues, soul, and garage rock elements. The result is a unique sonic experience that feels simultaneously nostalgic and fresh. Mattiel Brown's powerful voice adds a distinctive edge to her sound, evoking emotions ranging from raw passion to introspective vulnerability. After the Three Links show, Mattiel Brown was gifted a Gold Esther BREDA timepiece, and a spontaneous photo session took place on the venue's back patio. During the casual conversation between shots, BREDA discovered the special connection and friendship with Mattiel, deepening our understanding of her creative journey.

Fast forward four years, and much has changed since that first encounter with Mattiel. The global pandemic reshaped how BREDA operates, with many transitioning to remote work. Meanwhile, Mattiel Brown also made a significant life shift, relocating from Atlanta to Florence, Italy, as well as releasing Georgia Gothic in March 2022, alongside two EPs: Double Cover (2020) and Those Words (2021) before that. Aside from the music, Mattiel has produced many linocut prints exploring Greek folklore, femininity, and the animal world.

"Living in Italy has definitely reframed my sense of time," Mattiel reflects. "I've gotten used to a traditional sense of work/life balance...people take a lot of time for themselves, even in the middle of a workday, to socialize, cook and eat meals, and generally take a break before returning to responsibilities."

In this exclusive interview, the artistic polymath shares how this reframed perception of measured hours unlocked new headspaces of inspiration. "In the US, I was very conditioned to feel a sense of guilt if I wasn't constantly productive...In the States, time is money. But Europe doesn't subscribe to that idea quite as much," she explains. "I think reframing time in this way has given me more mental freedom to make work that's based on inspiration instead of a deadline." In other words, Mattiel has found freedom in the fluidity of time, allowing her creativity to blossom without the constraints of rigid schedules or productivity pressures. This newfound perspective has opened new avenues of artistic exploration, enabling her to delve deeper into her craft and create work that is not just timely but timeless.

This newfound flexibility echoes the fluidity and timelessness that Mattiel weaves into her multimedia creative practice. Her music, visual art, and personal style merge past and present, challenging rigid norms. "I try to make work that has a timeless quality by pulling from a broad history of image-making," she says of her printmaking artwork infused with "medieval methods and Greek symbology with undertones of my feminine point of view." A similar intergenerational, gender-transcendent alchemy smolders in her sonic world: "In my music, there's also inspiration from many different decades and genres. So, my work, in general, tends to be familiar but also new. Hopefully, it remains timeless and ages well."

This shape-shifting, cyclical approach is mirrored in Mattiel's own journey of growth, inspiration, and self-discovery as both an artist and a woman. After once seeing "conventional expressions of femininity as a sign of weakness or fragility" that she determinedly avoided in her youth, she has undergone an awakening: "Now I realize how much strength there is in being a woman whether I'm living in a man's world or not. I've only recently been able to embrace that part of myself, and it's definitely evident in the new work I've been recording. My voice and my delivery are noticeably different."

Extending this expansive, empowered sense of identity outward, even Mattiel's sartorial spirit celebrates masculinity and femininity's full, interwoven spectrum. "With anything I wear in everyday life or on stage, I just want to feel comfortable...I love that I can wear a custom suit or a dress and know that there's really no limits," she shares. This transcendent, genderfluid energy is apparent in boundary-exploding music videos like "Je Ne Me Connais Pas," where Mattiel sculpted herself into, as one YouTube commenter remarked, an "IMMACULATE unhinged dirtbag." Remarking on the music video, "I have facial stubble, a wifebeater, and greasy hair...we even flattened my chest with duct tape (painful). I practiced my body language in the mirror for weeks...I convinced myself that I was a man. And although I was poking some fun at this stereotypical dirtbag character, in some ways, it allowed me to empathize with the masculine experience." Mattiel continues, "Every human being on the planet embodies both masculine and feminine energies - even if they're unaware of it. For me, it’s important that I embrace both the feminine and masculine because those energies are equally important and symbiotic. I don’t believe one can exist without the other." Mattiel affirms. "I think finding that empathy is important for the sake of feminism. The two different forces should ideally co-exist in harmony.”

Mattiel admits, “My style choices are changing all the time. I’m not sure if it’s cohesive at all. The only cohesive thing about it is that I’m always trying to find myself. I’ve never had a moment in life where I’ve said, ‘This is the only thing I want to do.’ I’ve done a lot of hard work in the realm of music, but that didn’t begin until I was 21. Before that time, I was making mostly visual work in advertising and studio photography. I just got lucky that my music became a career. But I never like to put all my eggs in one basket.”

Whether through evocative lyricism, mixed media psychedelia, or gender-transcendent personal style, Mattiel's artistry is a class in embracing the cyclical, eternal nature of the creative experience. Her bold vulnerability bridges any perceived gaps between inspiration and output, inviting audiences to celebrate the human condition in all its ever-evolving complexity. "I'm not particularly extroverted, and I'm very careful about who I hold close in my life," she admits. "But as I connect further with myself, and especially if I'm able to be vulnerable and share that with the world, I think that's allowed me to connect with other people a lot more."

Much like the infinite dance between linear and cyclical time, Mattiel's artistic vision reminds us that the journey of self-actualization is a never-ending spiral worthy of being explored with unbridled passion, introspection, and freedom. "Time is a very mysterious thing. Fixation on past events or anxiety about the future can cause a lot of suffering," she reflects. "But I've had experiences (particularly when falling in love) where my sense of time changes completely, and it's usually because I'm 100% present in that moment...When you're totally focused and in the zone - it's like you've entered a magical realm. When I was a teenager, I remember seeing a photo of Patti Smith on stage in a tee shirt that said ‘FUCK THE CLOCK.’ That photo is a reminder to get back into the present moment. So fuck the clock. Except for this beautiful Pulse Tandem on my wrist, you guys gave me. I like this clock.”