“Matilda” is the lead single from alt-J (∆)‘s forthcoming debut album, produced by Charlie Andrew (Micachu & The Shapes, Eugene McGuinness). The song, inspired by Natalie Portman’s character in Luc Besson’s iconic film, Léon: The Professional, is typical of the band’s unique sound; from vocalist, Joe Newman’s high soul cry and Thom Green’s refusal to drum with cymbals (a rule first born out of necessity, because he couldn’t fit a full drum kit the band’s first practice room), to Gwil Sainsbury ‘s sparse guitar sound and Gus Unger-Hamilton’s delicate key clunks.
alt-J (∆)’s name takes a little explaining. Pronounced “alt-J”, the delta sign is created when you hold down the alt key on your computer keyboard and punch “J”, providing your computer is a Mac and not a PC, that is. It’s more than an un-Google-able symbol that looks good on a T shirt, though. As guitarist/bassist Gwil Sainsbury notes, “in mathematical equations it’s used to show change,” and the band’s relatively new name came at a turning point in their lives. The bands members met in 2007 at Leeds University where Unger-Hamilton was studying English Literature and the other three Fine Art.