The Midas Touch: A Conversation with Delilah Montagu

Delilah Montagu © 2019
Delilah Montagu © 2019
British artist and songwriter Delilah Montagu talks about her debut EP, In Gold, the start of her songwriting career, and discovering subconscious desires through song.

— —

The signs of a rising star aren’t always easy to spot. First of all, they need to be good – and not just “okay, I’d listen to this” good, more like song-steals-your-breath-and-is-on-repeat-for-a-day good. They need an interesting story or an enticing personality, preferably both. Undoubtedly, their live performance has to leave the audience speechless, be it for its energy, production, the artist’s remarkable vocals, or an infatuation that looms in the air. Writing their own songs and playing instruments is a plus, albeit not necessary to qualify for rising star status. And in the infinite scroll and streaming age, they need to grab your attention and, most importantly, retain it, not allowing their audience to forget they were ever here.

Delilah Montagu - In Gold
Delilah Montagu – In Gold

With British artist and songwriter Delilah Montagu, it’s clear she’s destined for success within seconds. After rising to prominence as a featured artist on David Guetta and Black Coffee’s “Drive”, Montagu released debut single “Temptation” a quiet but powerful song in which Montagu questions her feelings for someone who seems to not feel the same way towards her. Production-wise it’s simple, allowing Montagu, the piano, and her songwriting abilities to do most of the talking. Montagu’s voice is irresistible, and getting to know her through such a personal and vulnerable lens from the start ultimately makes you click with the artist. The live video for “Temptation” brings you even closer to her as Montagu plays the piano in a bare room and delivers the song flawlessly.

Gold“, her next single, reveals a more expansive side of Montagu’s sound and is equally as irresistible as “Temptation”. It’s the final piece of information you need to realise that Delilah Montagu is going to be huge, and that watching her grow will be even more satisfying than discovering her early on in her career.

To rid anyone of any doubts they had regarding Montagu’s potential comes In Gold, her debut EP, released today via Columbia Records. The EP functions like a short tasting menu, each song bringing something new, different, and exciting to the table as consumers get to fall in love with the person behind it all. Previous singles “Gold” and “Temptation” are the comfortable and familiar bits of the listening experience, heartwarming and safe but just as exciting and good as when you heard them the first time. “Seven Days of Rain” opens the EP with a remarkable line: “She felt the kind of sadness only rich kids do“, hooking you in right away. The chorus is delightful to listen to, Montagu sounding as good as ever when she asks “Was I just seven days of rain?” and provokes introspection and a hint of sadness. “Next to Me” is the more risk-taking one, adding elements of funk with a strong bass line and harmonised vocals. It sounds timeless. One EP into the game, and Montagu has proven that everything she touches turns to gold.

Add this to Montagu’s photographs of funky socks on Instagram and her amazing egg outfit, and you’ve got someone who’s not only talented and great at what she does, but is also someone you’d love to have a coffee or (a few) drinks with. She’s the real deal, and it’s only a matter of time before everyone knows who Delilah Montagu is. Montagu spoke to Atwood Magazine about her debut EP, the roots of her songwriting career, living in New York and Japan, and discovering subconscious desires through her music.

Listen: In Gold – Delilah Montagu


Atwood Magazine: When did you first start making music, and when did you decide you wanted to pursue this as a career?

Delilah Montagu: I have always sung and written songs. When I was 6 I started playing the piano we had at home, then forced my parents to buy me a guitar and I’ve been writing ever since. It has always come really naturally to me, I never made a conscious decision to write or pursue it as a kind of just happened. 

You grew up surrounded by pretty artistic people, how did that environment help you discover yourself as an artist from a young age?

Delilah Montagu: Growing up the arts and self expression was encouraged so much that it almost felt unusual not to write and be creative. Everyone around me was either a painter, musician or in film/theatre and looking back on it now, it created a really safe space for me to be expressive and not think too much into what I was doing. 

You’ve lived in New York and Japan. Your experiences in both of these places were extremely different, how do you think your time in each place helped you change as an artist and writer, if at all?

Delilah Montagu: Living in New York I met so many incredible people. It was the first time I had ever had to start somewhere from scratch and make completely new connections. It forced me to come out of myself and be more confident.

Japan was a polar opposite experience because I went there with the mindset of wanting to isolate myself completely and cut off from people. I wanted to test myself I guess, and spend some time away from music and human interaction. I came back from there with a new sense of calm and perspective on what I was doing. Both experiences were very forming of who I am today and invaluable in completely different ways. 

Delilah Montagu © Katie Silvester
Delilah Montagu © Katie Silvester

When you’re introducing yourself as an artist to the world, you get the chance to, if wanted, change your identity, you choose who you are and what people will know about you, a type of control people normally don’t have in their everyday life. Your music is extremely personal. How do you choose what part to show the world and what to withhold from them?

Delilah Montagu: My music is very much an expression who I am, so for me it would feel alien to present as anything separate from that. It’s similar to life really, there are some things I would only feel comfortable telling close friends and there are other things I don’t mind sharing with people I don’t know as well. I guess I’m also so used to being openly vulnerable through my writing and (no matter how much I try) I can’t control what people think of me so I might as well be myself. 

Why did you choose “Temptation” as your debut single?

Delilah Montagu: 2 years ago “Temptation” was the first song of mine that the people I’m working with heard. It was called ‘voice memo 400’.  So releasing it first feels really special because it’s how all of this naturally started for me. I have written so much since then that I didn’t want it to get lost amongst my new stuff so I’m very happy that it’s out! 

Watch: “Temptation (Live Video)” – Delilah Montagu

Let’s talk about “Gold”. Why did you choose this song as the first single off the EP?

Delilah Montagu: I chose “Gold” because it sums up a lot of how I’m feeling in my life right now. It’s all about that comfortable, unconditional, safe love that you feel when you’re falling in love with someone. The EP is a journey of me changing and discovering new things about myself and other people. “Temptation” is the oldest song on there and “Gold” is the most recent, so it feels to me like a nice little snapshot of how things have changed and progressed for me. 

What about the music video, can you tell me more about its concept? It’s simple but yet absolutely stunning.

Delilah Montagu: Thank you! I wanted the video to be very simple. It is the first music video I’ve ever made and so keeping it stripped back and very much me was very important. In a way it’s a reflection of the simplicity of the song. 

Watch: “Gold” – Delilah Montagu

How did you come up with the metaphor “Seven Days of Rain”? It’s such a beautiful, introspective image and it conveys so much feeling - lack of permanence, sadness, but also something refreshing and necessary for survival.

Delilah Montagu: It stemmed from me talking about how fast things happen and how much can change in a short period of time. I spent a month working in LA and felt kind of numb/overwhelmed when I was out there, it was only when I got home that I spent a week letting everything sink in, all the beautiful bits and all the sad bits. 

The EP was also the first time you worked with producers and in a studio. How did that influence the songwriting and production process for you?

Delilah Montagu: The production process was a mad amount of fun. Joel [Pott] and Barney [Lister] are two of the best people I’ve ever met and so working on the EP with them was a dream. It’s a very vulnerable thing because the songs feel very personal to me, so I found letting other people in to the process of recording them scary, but they made the process feel totally natural. Like one big, long, fun hang. 

What’s the story you’re telling with the In Gold EP? What will people learn about you?

Delilah Montagu: It’s a story of discovery really. Every song was written at a different stage of my life, and is truthful to how I was feeling at the time. Each song shows development and change. It’s been a lovely one to make because I’m in such a different place now to where I was in some of the songs, and I like seeing my growth in that way. It’s like one big diary I guess.

Is there a specific song in the EP that you’re more excited for people to listen to?

Delilah Montagu: “Seven Days of Rain” is a very close song to my heart. It came from such a confused place and it feels the most vulnerable to release. “Next to Me” is also one of my favourites – definitely my favourite to play live. 

Delilah Montagu © Katie Silvester
Delilah Montagu © Katie Silvester

Delilah Montagu: Ohh this happens all the time. I never know what is going on in my head until after it’s written. There was a time when I was obliviously completely in love with my friend. I kept writing all of these songs which were very obviously about that person, to the point of describing every aspect of them in detail. I still did not have any idea until I eventually listened back to the songs I’d written at that time (about 6 months later) and right..okay something was definitely going on here. 

What about your London residency - what made you want to do this, and what can people expect from your shows?

Delilah Montagu: I thought it was a fun idea so that people in different areas could make the shows! I know from experience how annoying it is when a show is on the opposite side of London, feels like I’m going on holiday just to see a show.. it can take so long. I will be playing North and East solo, and West and South with my band. These shows will be fun I’m very excited for them. 

What are you most looking forward to this year after the release of the EP?

Delilah Montagu: Recording my next EP and playing the songs live! I am very, very excited to play more live shows. 

What’s the perfect situation/place/setting for someone to listen to your music?

Delilah Montagu: Bed?

 — —

Delilah Montagu - In Gold

Connect with Delilah Montagu on
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
?© Katie Silvester

:: Stream Delilah Montagu ::

More from Nicole Almeida
Born Out of Friendship, Diaries, and Duality: A Conversation with Diplomacy
Atwood Magazine talks to Diplomacy about their friendship, the band’s inception, debut...
Read More