During office hours, Mattiel Brown works as a designer and illustrator at MailChimp, a position she’s enjoyed for four years. After office hours, Brown swaps the design studio for the stage. When she gets on stage, this soft-spoken, chilled-out design nerd turns into a rock ’n’ roll belter, performing bold, vintage soul as Mattiel (pronounced “maa-TEEL”).
Brown grew up as an only child on a five-acre farm in rural Brooks, Georgia. As an adolescent, she delighted in the ’60s folk and pop of her mother’s limited vinyl collection, which featured artists such as Donovan and Joan Baez. As an adult, she moved to Atlanta and found a new crop of artists that she’d sing along to during her long drives to work: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, André 3000, Marc Bolan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Jack White.
Soon, Brown began working with InCrowd, the Atlanta-based songwriting and production team behind her dynamite eponymous debut. She had no game plan beyond the fun of “creating something out of nothing.” However, producers Randy Michael and Jonah Swilley knew a good thing when they heard it: Brown and InCrowd had chemistry.
Although Mattiel’s sound borrows from the past, the art direction—Brown’s inspiring handiwork, of course—is decidedly forward-thinking, all color block aesthetics (à la the White Stripes) and artful, design-savvy music videos. With a European festival circuit tour scheduled for this summer, Mattiel is no longer Atlanta’s best kept secret. Look out, world.