Maty Noyes has always been a free spirit. A dreamy, music-obsessed kid, she was barely out of elementary school when she realized it was her destiny to bring her uncannily sophisticated songwriting skills and old-soul voice to the world. "I just knew," she remembers. "I knew school wasn't for me. I knew staying in a small town wasn't for me. I knew my life was going to happen somewhere else." It was less that she was running away from a bad or troubled life – she had good friends and a close family – but more that she was responding to a genuine calling. She needed the freedom to delve deeper into her talents and fully get in touch with her distinctive, sultry indie pop sound. That's Noyes' unmistakable voice you hear harmonizing with the Weeknd on Beauty Behind the Madness's dystopic, album-closing ballad "Angel." That's her on "Haunted," the closing credit track from the Julia Roberts & Nicole Kidman film, Secret in Their Eyes. That's Noyes on Kygo's electric single, "Stay." That's most definitely her on two beguiling new singles under Noyes' own name: the elegant, timeless piano ballad "Boundaries" and the glammed-up, melodramatic kiss-off banger "London."
What's more, Noyes' talent extends to the pen. In addition to writing credits on "Haunted" and "Stay,"Noyes also co-wrote her forthcoming EP. "My whole thing is, there are no limits," says the singer of her chameleonic sound. "Any day I go into the studio, I could come out with something disco or super poppy or it could be a soul song. I am all about pushing boundaries, breaking through limitations and avoiding boxes. I'm about contradiction."
Some people are just born to the artistic life. "It was one of those cosmic things," Noyes says of her early connection to music. "I've been writing songs for as long as I can remember." Childhood piano lessons led to the guitar, which led to twelve-year-old Noyes playing gigs in their small Mississippi town. "I wanted to play all the time, it was like an addiction," she remembers. The eighteen-year-old says she looked to the greats while aspiring to become the artist she is today, "I admired the legendary Etta James and Billie Holiday for their raw vocals. I was also looking up to modern music icons like Alanis Morissette for her honest lyrics, Amy Winehouse for her pure heart, and Madonna for being the baddest bitch in the game."
Upon visiting Nashville for the first time at age eleven with her guitar in hand, Noyes' intuitions were confirmed as she played on the street among the city's palpable creativity. She then convinced her parents to let her move out of their home and into her own place in Nashville when she was sixteen. "I never felt like I fit in a small town" she describes. "I love everyone from there, but I need the diversity of a big city." She cut her teeth in music city, gigging a lot and connecting with her management team. But Nashville was just a stopover - both literally, in that she'd soon relocate to Los Angeles - and also figuratively in that it's against every bone in her body to be tied to one genre or one form. As much as Noyes is inspired by the American songwriting greats, she's a decidedly modern artist, as drawn to the idealism and emotional expressiveness of her generation's identity as she is tied to the classic rock and roll or soul iconography. What Noyes is aiming at, really, is a kind of all-inclusive elusiveness; she's a singer with Marilyn Monroe-like mystery and Madonna-like emotional transparency.
It's all right there in the songs. "Boundaries" is elegiac and classic, a lush sonic backdrop against whichNoyes' dramatic vocal range can be fully appreciated. The decidedly poppier "London" is the party song; loose and cheeky, with a blend of soaring strings and dance-hall ready beats. What these tracks - and all the others Noyes is currently assembling - have in common, though, is a primary connection to the message of love and compassion, the through-line in all her music. "I, like a lot of people in our country right now, am feeling downtrodden and bossed around, told what to do," Noyes says. "I want to make songs that show love can triumph over hate." She's working every day on new material, borrowing a bit from one genre and blending it with another, constantly looking for new ways to explore her art and her central theme.
It's her attitude, this commitment to not being penned in, which led Noyes to the Weeknd. "I was in the studio with Stephan," she says, referring to Stephan Moccio, Noyes' producer who also works with The Weeknd. "He asked me to sing on 'Angel.' I said I would love to see if I can bring something to the song, because it's so beautiful. But of course there's no telling how that could have gone." It went well. "You just have to show up and really be present for the art," Noyes says, with a smile, "and that's inspiring to me – finding myself in a position to work with someone like Abel and being genuinely connected during that process." This sense of presence, of promise, and of possibility is what Noyes continues to pull from as she looks forward to releasing her eagerly anticipated full length album. "I've always known this would be my path. Now that it's here, I'm ready."