After an early but nevertheless incredible set at Ultra Music Festival 2015, Matthew Koma joined us to talk about what he's been up to lately, including a ton of studio time to produce his upcoming album. Gaining attention with the song, Spectrum with Zedd in 2012, Matthew has since paired up with Hardwell, Audien, and Tiesto, to name a few. Although somewhat soft spoken, this dude's got a lot to say. He talks to us about how he started off and how the motivation of failure propelled him to the high ranks where he sits today, collaborating with artists who inspired him on the journey to the top. You can catch him in the festival circuit this summer including this Saturday at Coachella!
DB: So this was your first time playing at Ultra. How was it out there?
It was awesome. It was a lot of fun. It's cool to get to go on during the day because it feels like you really get to be in it. When all the lights and the craziness is happening at night, which has been my experience performing with different DJs during their sets, it's such a different experience. It was cool. The crowd was great, considering it was a Sunday after 3 days of partying. Everyone showed up and were rocking; it was great.
DB: You said you played with Afrojack last year. Was that at night?
Yeah, it was. I believe it was both. It was like, at dusk. It was the romantic part of the night.
DB: Did you play or attend any Miami Music Week parties?
I didn't. I just got down here for the festival. So I've been here a very very quick minute. I haven't got to see much except the stage. I got to do a song with Steve Aoki yesterday.
DB: I saw some pictures! That's awesome.
Yeah, it was a blast. We just finished our song together for his record so we've performed it twice now. Last night being the second time, so that was fun.
DB: How is it working with him? Have you has a cake to the face yet?
He's such a good dude, honestly. Ya know, he's just one of those guys with a good heart and a really good spirit and good intensions. I really really like working with him. On top of that he puts on such a great show.
DB: One of the best! When does that track come out?
I believe its in conjunction with his album release.
DB: We’ll be on the lookout for it. In the early phases of your career Jimmy Iovine signed you to Interscope records. How did that come about?
I was doing a lot of writing and producing for other artists, which I still do a lot of, but that was kind of the primary focus at the time, about 4 years ago, and some people in the Interscope building, mainly Jimmy Iovine, heard some of the songs I was working on and took interests in the records I was working on for myself. At the time I was working with Alesso and Zedd on their records so it kind of just became this happy storm of coincidence. The right place, the right time, the right people, and the right songs.
DB: You started out as a singer/songwriter then transitioned to a DJ.
I wouldn't say it was so much a transition. I still very much do both and always have been. I've always written songs since I was a little kid and producing on a 4-track before I had a computer. So thats always been a huge party of what I've done and then from a performance standpoint it's always been about how am I delivering songs to people. The same way I’ll do a DJ set is the same way I’ll still do an acoustic guitar and vocal set at a hotel cafe in LA or a band set or hybrid set with a DJ and live band. It’s never been one or the other; it’s just all one picture of like, well there are different platforms and different ways to deliver these songs and I want people to hear my song across all platforms, whether it be at a festival or an intimate setting or opening for a pop act or whatever. I’m really fortunate to be able to get to play all those different roles.
DB: So you’re still playing in live bands?
Oh yeah. We just.. well I wouldn't say ‘just'...played the iTunes Festival in London where it was more of a hybrid set with a drummer and a bass player and I played guitar and DJed and sang, so its kind of what it calls for. Something like this wouldn't make sense for me to get up and play guitar, where as some other shows allow for it to happen.
DB: What kind of bands were you in growing up?
When I was really young me and my brother had always played in bands together. He came from being in a lot of hardcore bands and grew up in the Long Island punk/hardcore scene. Those kinds of bands. We were really shitty; played in hot pockets for like 6 people, 2-3 years in a row.
DB: Well it got you where you are now.
Oh, its the best. You dont even realize when you’re in it; that's the part thats the best, ya know? The funny stories and the ‘We’re gonna make it!’ There is something about that delusion, in a lot of ways, that gives you that bravery and gives you that ability to jump and believe you’re going to fly and that sticks with you no matter what you take on.
DB: That’s a great mentality to have. And now you’re touring all over the globe. What is your most memorable show?
That’s a tough one. It's always interesting when you travel really really really far.
DB: Where’s the furthest you’ve been?
Something that comes to mind is we just did Go India and going to a place like that and seeing people react to the songs, and a lot of countries where English isn't their first language but they know all the words, that stuff it mind blowing to me. Because, ya know, these are song I write in my underwear in my bedroom. To think that they’re connecting people on… I shouldn't even say it needs to be far… I mean, I met a girl tonight who is a big fan of this one particular song and we were talking about what it meant to her and it’s crazy because I know I relate to songs like that and i know songs meant that to me. To think that you can be apart of something creatively, that whole deposition of someone else's life is just mind blowing to me.
DB: Any collbs coming up?
Yeah, a ton of stuff. I just finished my record which im really excited about, probably the most excited about it at this point because there have been so many features and so many collaborations, that this is a really good opportunity to have my statement made. I get to invite people into my world to see what that mentality exactly is, ya know, a proper selection of songs.
DB: When is that released?
This summer. But I’m writing and producing for a lot of different artists and thats always really fun in different means. So I just produced some songs for [his] record. I’m kind of all over the map; I just finished doing a bunch of work with Britney Spears for her upcoming album, Kelly Clarkson just released a song of ours. We just got to work on some stuff with Bruce Springsteen for his album. So like all over the map, which is very exciting. It’s been fun to not be pinned to one thing and kind of keep going. I just did a song with Dillon Francis too that I’m really excited about.
DB: That’s really going to be awesome. So what’s the plan for the rest of 2015?
Tons of shows! It’s a little bit of that transition from studio mode because I was working on my record for so long to a lot of shows. So I’m excited to get out and put that together.
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