Multidisciplinary artist Malthus explores childhood trauma, violence and frailty with his debut EP, COUNTRYCIDE, which features contributions from Blackhaine, Sid Quirk, Magnus Westwell and Rainy Miller.
Following a string of enigmatic singles, ‘Heroin’, ‘Run Red’ and ‘I Hope For No Cold Shoulder’, each a heady concoction of rusted industrial textures, sparse neoclassical arrangements and chilly electronic composition, multidisciplinary artist and musician Malthus takes stock of his unflinchingly intimate sound and practice with COUNTRYCIDE. Shot through with the artist’s singularly raw delivery, at once strained and grandiose, as though pushed out with violent force from deep behind his ribcage, the collection of songs are a reflection on his childhood growing up in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and his formative experiences of trauma, violence and substance abuse. “I wrote this whole thing about childhood and I guess it was my attempt to let go of a lot of the things that had been following me around for my adult life,” he explains. “I was pretty ill for over a year after I caught Covid so this was really my passion project to get me through a lot of the days I couldn’t leave the house – it’s been my tether and my rock and I’ve remade it countless times trying to get it right.” Won’t Go Easy was born out of his struggle with sickness, days of constriction and frustration wracking each swell of radioactive strings and deep bass throb. At once cathartic lament and euphoric rallying cry, Won’t Go Easy plumbs the depths of debilitating illness while amplifying the magnitude of the resolve and strength required to persevere, shedding new light on how the artist’s past has shaped his present. “Won’t Go Easy was written about the burden of trauma being so affected by your past that you kind of lose function,” he explains. “I’ve spent so much time alone just kind of soaking in my life that I needed to remind myself that it does get better at some point – creating this work from that feeling gives me that validation of improvement.”
“Writing and producing my first EP came alongside getting more into movement and filmmaking too, and making this film with Martha Treves was such a gorgeous process,” Malthus continues. “We really gelled creatively and it was enough to get the whole project over the line when I had kind of run out of steam after my year in hell.” Captured in the twisted woodlands and along the windswept coast of Dorset, Treves’ visual takes us from the candle-lit confines and stained glass of a tiny chapel to an expansive outside, placing the viscerality of Malthus’ contorted corporeal frame in counterpoint with a god’s-eye view of natural beauty, skin and bone in chorus with soil and limestone. “In many ways the film is led by journeying and movement,” explains Treves. “Malthus had told me about his year of illness and the frustrations that come with being physically unwell, so it seemed fitting to create something that experimented with restriction and disruptive movement. I had always admired and been intrigued by Malthus’ jagged and irregular movement style, and having the opportunity to collaborate with him on a film that uses this movement to explore his personal experiences was really exciting. We shot the film over two days in Dorset and in the midst of Storm Dennis. The epic weather, fluctuating between 60 mph winds, hail downpours and sudden bursts of sunlight, seemed to echo the mood of the track itself: it was unpredictable, fierce and otherworldly.” Draped with tattered wool and asymmetric cloth, Malthus’ twitching movements convey months of pent up tension, as though bound by his own body, held taught against the world. As Won’t Go Easy reaches its’ climax with ecstatic horns and soaring vocals, Malthus’ movements turn skyward, unfurling against the Dorset sky.
Won’t Go Easy Credits:
Director – Martha Treves
Movement Direction – Malthus
Producer – Malthus and Martha Treves
Fashion and Styling – Jon Morales
Cinematography – Owain Morgan
Production Assistants – Zoe Dimoldenberg, Celeste Chambers-Hill
Edit – Martha Treves, Clémentine Bartaud
Colour – Daniela Rotaru
Titles – Saskia Wood