Tamworth's Matilda Pratt faced terrifying ordeal in LA recording trip - unsigned column
She loves nothing more than heading to Los Angeles to build her musical contacts, but Tamworth singer-songwriter Matilda Pratt's latest trip came very close to disaster.
The 17-year-old A-level student was in the American city earlier this month performing, writing and recording when she was spotted by a management executive who wanted to set up a meeting.
On August 16, she was originally meant to meet them in West Hollywood, but that got changed in the morning to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee shop on Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica.
"Someone who saw me perform out there wanted to have a meeting with me before I left about further opportunities," she said. "But when I met with him, gunshots were fired a couple of stores down from where we were."
Local news reported that a Brinks security van guard fired three rounds at a man at about 11.15am after the man approached him with a knife. According to police, the man was not struck by the gunfire and ran from the area with a bag of money. He was later apprehended.
"Everyone was running and screaming and we had to go inside the coffee shop and crouch down low until it was safe to get a police escort out as far away as possible. It was extremely scary and it’s certainly a meeting I will never forget."
Despite her terrifying ordeal, the teenager - who wishes to study law at university when her A-levels are completed in Sutton Coldfield - says she had a successful trip to the States.
"I performed, recorded and continued writing my new song," she continued. "I went to see one of my favourite bands James perform at the Greek Theatre out there and attended their sound check beforehand which was such an intimate and amazing experience.
"I hope to share the video of the song I recorded out there soon and release my new EP."
Academia is something very important to Matilda, who achieved 11 A*s in her GCSEs. But she doesn't want to drop her music career as she continues her studies, having first taken to the stage at a young age.
"I’ve always been a competitive dancer since the age of four and performed in drama shows. I was always given the ‘dancer’ roles but, one time, I was asked to sing Ellie Goulding’s version of Elton John’s Your Song and my ‘voice’ was discovered.
"I received a recording studio session for my birthday following that and my singing career started from there really. I also entered a Rotary Search for a Star talent competition aged 10, and not only won for my age category but the whole competition. I’m a TeenStar UK and Open Mic UK grand finalist also, and entering these competitions when I was younger really gave me stage confidence and experience."
She looks to one of the region's current brightest lights for inspiration and will be hoping her career can take a similarly quick trajectory.
"I love Jorja Smith for many reasons but it's her amazing voice, first and foremost, as it’s very distinctive and captivating. I admire her as a role model. She’s from Walsall too, which is so local to me and that makes her amazing achievements feel more reachable in a way.
"Her dog is best friends with one of my best friend’s dogs too," she adds with a laugh.
She performs a mixture of her own original material and covers during her live shows.
"I think I sing my own material differently to other songs as they will always be more personal to me," she says. "When I do sing covers, I always try to change them up and put my own spin on them to give them my personality and vibe.
"I enjoy re-imagining covers by bands and artists that I love listening to such as U2, Oasis, Radiohead, The Killers, The Smiths and Sam Fender, to name just a few."
As she mentioned, Matilda - known as Tilly - is gearing up for a new EP release. While she doesn't yet have a release date set in stone, it won't be too long before the world can hear it.
"It will be my second EP release, but I’ve also previously released a few singles. My latest single Anything charted in the official iTunes singer-songwriter chart, which was pretty cool. The original song What I Should Have Said from my last EP was played on the BBC Introducing show on BBC WM, which I’m extremely proud of.
"I will be releasing my re-imagining of The Rolling Stones' Wild Horses really soon too so please look out for that. I’ve aspired to make it an epic version so it’s slightly long. I shot a video for it too. It was inspired by being invited to perform at a Rolling Stones Walk of Fame tribute event at Fletchers Bar in Kings Heath, Birmingham, recently."
Matilda likes to play all venues. Big or small, she just loves jumping on stage to perform for people.
"I was recently asked whether I prefer to perform at the bigger or smaller venues and the truth is that I absolutely love it all," she continues. "It’s always a great thrill to perform on a big stage in front of a large audience, seeing lots of people enjoying my songs. But I equally love to perform in the smaller, more intimate settings as the atmosphere is so different.
"I’m proud of all of the events I’ve performed at, especially when people take the time to meet me or message me afterwards.
"As you can probably tell, I absolutely love doing all of this. I’ve got so much to look forward to this year and I can’t wait to continue sharing my journey with everyone."