Few artists get the opportunity to create original music with a 52-piece orchestra conducted by one of Hollywood's most iconic composers, especially before the age of 19. But for rising pop star Maty Noyes, these elements came together on her new single, "London," featuring a frenetic string section led by the legendary Bill Ross (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Tuck Everlasting, Ladder 49). The arty disco-rock anthem, which sounds like an updated James Bond theme, introduces a confident new sound from the rising singer/songwriter, co-written and co-produced by Stephan Moccio (Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd).
Since fleeing her Missississippi home at 16, Noyes has been slowly building a name for herself in contemporary pop, having previously appeared on Kygo's dancehall hit "Stay" and The Weeknd's "Angel." With the success of these two collaborations (Kygo's smash garnered more than 350 million Spotify streams and landed Noyes a performance slot at the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Concert), she eventually released her debut five-track EP, Noyes Complaint, in fall 2016. The project's old-soul undertones and fierce, pop-leaning finish mark Noyes' developing sound, best captured on her breakout solo single, "In My Mind."
With Noyes Complaint and "London" setting the stage for a proper full-length album to come, OUT caught up with the woman in power-pop to talk songwriting, love and that time a healer told her she was the "Queen of Diamonds" in a previous life.
OUT: Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Los Angeles?
Maty Noyes: I grew up in Mississippi, which was a hard place for me to grow up because I was always very different and didn’t understand why people had any sexism or racism. There weren’t a lot of people like me and I knew I didn’t want to stick around or go to college, so the day I turned 16 I moved to Nashville alone. My parents gave me this huge list of things to do that they didn’t think I would do and I actually did them all [laughs], so they had to let me go. About a month later, I drove someone to a party because they were drunk and it turned out to be at my future manager’s house. I got a publishing deal and by 17, I was able to move to Los Angeles—I’m 19 now.
Why did you decide you wanted to move to Nashville first?
Nashville was the closest to a big city in the South, so it was kind of the best option—I could still be reasonably close to family, so it didn’t feel too uncomfortable. Also I had been going to Nashville since I was 12, playing all the venues, the open mic nights, playing on the streets, so it already felt like home to me in a way.
How did leaving home at such a young age affect you?
It helped me grow up a lot quicker; it helped me become who I am; it gave me a lot of crazy stories [and] I learned how to suffer in a way [laughs]. It made me really thankful for where I am now because it wasn’t easy in Nashville—it was very very rough.
When you first started songwriting, what’d you write about?
I always loved music growing up, but as soon as I got a guitar at age 11 or 12, literally a week later I started writing songs every day. It just took me getting that right instrument. I remember one of the first songs I wrote, called “Vigor,” was about this girl who was really really pretty, but she didn’t know she was pretty and she was too afraid to kiss anyone and her lips kept getting bigger and bigger until they fell off her face [laughs]. When I was younger, I was very mature, so I was dating people and hanging out with people who were older—I had a lot to write about.
How do you think your songwriting has matured?
I’m older now and a little wiser, so I have more to say and I have things I want to do about the world. I just want to make it a better place and talk about what’s really going on and give some food for thought, so I’d say now I’m making my work more meaningful, impactful and relatable to people. I feel like if I can be really honest about who I am, other people will feel they can be honest about who they are with themselves, which so many people never do. It’s okay to be who you are.
How’d you first begin working with The Weeknd?
We were both working with the same producer at the time, Stephan Moccio, who did “London” and “Earned It,” and a few other songs for The Weeknd. We were his main babies at this point—the only artists he was totally into and developing. Of course, he wanted to bring us together because we were like family to him. So one night in the studio, [The Weeknd] wasn’t there and he was like, “You should just sing on his track.” Because you know, if you tell people you’re going to do something, they’ll say “no,” but if you show them, they can’t live without it. So we recorded vocals and a week later, he showed [The Weeknd] and he actually really liked it.
How did your song with Kygo come about?
I probably write three to four songs a week minimum. I wrote “Stay,” but I didn’t think it would go anywhere. A lot of times I write these songs and no one thinks anything of them. Someone happened to send Kygo the track because my A&R and his A&R were both together overseas, and they played it for him. He ended up freaking out over it, putting a drop to it and putting it out a week or two later—it was a really quick turnaround.
You write up to four songs every week?
Every artist is different because a lot of artists don’t even write their own songs, but I’m very adamant on being super genuine and honest about my life. There might be a week when there’s a show and traveling, and then a week when I’m in LA doing sessions with different producers—it varies a lot, but my label always keeps me working.
How long did it take you to create your Noyes Complaint EP?
Every song I write is usually done within a few hours, and then people have to produce it. But those particular songs, I wrote them all within the same month. Because I have so many songs, we didn’t know what we were going to put out and then all of a sudden I wrote these songs and my label was like, “Let’s just put these out.” I was happy with that because I really like the songs.
You often hear about young artists who’re heavily controlled in the music industry…
Yeah, fuck that.
How do you deal with that?
I fight to the death every day to keep who I am, and trust me it’s not easy. There's a fine line you have to walk. I’m not gonna be someone else—I don’t know how to be someone else. I believe if I keep doing this, eventually I’ll reach a point where I’ll make it and I can tell people to do what I want to do [laughs]. It’ll be nice, I’m really excited for that day.
When you listen to Noyes Complaint as a whole, what is its message?
Two songs are more of a story, two songs are more about life and our generation, and one song is just a fun happy song. So the EP is kind of a mix of what it is to be in the world, right now. One of the songs is a come-off of “Stay,” which was “in my miNd” which is describing a relationship that I was in. Then “falling out of lovE” was the next step in that. We followed the three steps in that relationship between “Stay,” “in my miNd” and “falling out of lovE” from the beginning of it to the end. And then “rollin’ w Yew” is a happy song with a double meaning [laughs], and “lil’ bit wrOng” is about me; “takeS one to love one” is about our generation, making fun of how we think and how we are taught to love, which is totally ballistic.
Do you write about love often?
I feel like I’m a natural-born lover. I study tantra and try to really understand the fullness of it, so I’m just a lover—all about love. Maybe if love is in my song, I might mean it in a different way than other people would think it.
What’s the story behind your new single, “London”?
Before I lived in LA, I was coming up for writing sessions and one day I went to go see a healer in Pasadena. She said when I walked in the room, I had all these entities attached to me and asked me if I ever played card games before. I was like, “Yeah,” and she said, “You were the Queen of Diamonds and your family killed you because they thought you were a witch and they’re all here to ask for your forgiveness. If you forgive them you’ll feel this crazy feeling.
Did you forgive them?
I was like, “Of course I forgive them.” And then I felt my feet open up and wind blow through my body and she said that she saw two angels pour white diamonds all over me [laughs]. And then I became the Queen of Diamonds again. So “London” is kind of like that precursor for what’s to come with the Queen of Diamonds and talks about it a little bit in the bridge. “London” tells the story of who I am, where I came from—breaking away and starting to really become the queen inside of me. I started that when I was 17 after I went to go see [the healer].
Are you a spiritual person?
I’m super spiritual. I think I’ve always been that way, but I’m really starting to grow into it and live it as I get older.
Why do you think that is?
Sometimes you just have it in you. Sometimes you’re literally born with that feeling and sensation. I think I was born different than a lot of people and that’s something that’s always lived inside me as a natural thing.