Delilah Montagu talks storytelling, Leonard Cohen and her debut EP
Delilah Montagu is the perfect example of a heartwarming coming of age story.
The 21-year-old UK singer-songwriter now resides in London where she inked a deal with Columbia Records on her 19th birthday. She’s navigated an overwhelming amount of firsts in the music industry and in her personal life.
Since the signing, she has been spending her time songwriting and honing her craft to the point where she was ready to release her honest music into the world and open up to listeners.
Inspired by the likes of Leonard Cohen and Carole King, she wants her artist legacy to be her songwriting. “I’m so influenced by classic songwriters so I wanted to find that balance that James Blake and Bon Iver have found where it’s not too retro and not purely in the vain of the period of songwriting,” Montagu tells TMN.
Gushing about her favourites she adds that it’s the romanticism of human connection that Cohen and King perfected that really stands out to her. “I find truth so beautiful because everyone experiences things in different ways and no one reacts the same. And that’s something they both explored uniquely compared to the likes of Bob Dylan who had a different way of storytelling”.
This inspired her from a very young age and instantly took shape in her own songwriting as she became more intrigued by human beings and human connection. Noting that she doesn’t really know how to describe the way she writes as it happens quite naturally and different each time, what she can cite is her constant influence of human beings.
“I find our connection so fascinating,” she says. “I talk about my own experiences, observations or the stories I hear from my friends as they talk about their emotions. I use songwriting to figure out how I feel about particular situations and find a way to express my feelings.”
However, Montagu’s first major label release wasn’t exactly what she expected. Featuring on the Black Coffee and David Guetta collaboration ‘Drive’ she explored a completely different side to her growing artistry.
She knew that putting this track out into the world was a one-off as much as it was a fun experimentation while she was putting the final touches on her debut collection of material. Luckily her label and team were really supportive of her direction and after the success of ‘Drive’ they didn’t try to follow it up with another similar song.
“I never felt pressured to continue that sound because I knew that I could never do that genre justice. I have so much respect for that genre and I am so grateful that I got to be a part of that song because I love pop. But personally when I write, I come from such a different place and I’m lucky that my label are so amazing and understand me artistically.”
After creating a little buzz, she finally released her debut single ‘Temptation’ that introduced listeners to the artist that Montagu authentically wants to be. The melancholic song is very sad at its core but there is a hope she holds onto throughout the emotional delivery.
Reflecting on her songwriting she admits that the meanings of the songs constantly change as she grows and continues to have new experiences. At the time of writing the heartbreaking ‘Temptation’ she was getting caught up in a relationship and finding herself questioning why she was trusting them and why out of everyone in the world was it their voice that calmed her when it also deeply upset her.
This sentiment resonated with a global audience, clocking over 400,000 streams on Spotify alone.
In contrast, her follow up single ‘Gold’ explored the positive side of love which she weirdly admits also highlights her most honest moment as a songwriter. “Even though it’s a more positive song, it’s really vulnerable because it’s scary being confident in the love that you feel and the love that someone else feels towards you.
“At the end of the day I just have a feeling that things are fine and we don’t need to rush it but It’s so scary having that confidence as I’m also like ‘please don’t break my heart,’” she laughs.
Her debut EP ‘In Gold’ was released on Friday (June 21) and hears the singer-songwriter finding her unique pocket as an artist. In it’s stripped back form she finds her confidence and her voice in this brief introductory collection of four tracks.
With all of these things happening quite rapidly she’s experiencing a lot of firsts at once. From doing interviews, photo shoots and releasing music to just growing up as a young woman and getting to know herself, she’s trying to find a way to wrap her head around it all. She now looks back at the release of ‘Drive’ as a very natural event in her life just like moving house which in reflection, she admits, is a “little weird”.
— Delilah Montagu (@delilahmontagu) June 21, 2019
“I’ve written music my whole life but this is the first time I’m publicly putting it out there. I was saying to my friend yesterday how I was feeling fine when I released ‘Temptation’ and ‘Gold’ but since the release of the EP I’ve had a very emotional couple of days. Not a certain feeling of sad or happy but just a lot of emotion. I think it’s because this EP is so vulnerable at its core and means so much to me. It’s an overwhelming feeling to adjust to but I love it”.
With the release of ‘Temptation’, she found herself checking the Spotify numbers every day to see how many people were listening to her music in real time. But she’s stopped doing that now. While it is an amazing thing to see the numbers it also becomes a dangerous habit creatively to put so much emphasis on it.
Montagu is self-aware and doesn’t want to get into a competition with herself, but she admits that sometimes it’s just human nature. She wants to do better but she doesn’t want to compromise her artistic integrity at the same time.
At the end of the day, all Montagu wants to do is invoke human connection and through the release of ‘In Gold’ she’s beginning that journey with eyes wide open.