Q&A with MATTHEW KOMA – Coachella Edition!
Posted On 05 Jun 2015
Tag: Afrojack, Alesso, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Anniversary Show, Arcadia, Artist, Artist Interview, Audien, Bad Religion, Brandon Flowers, Bruce Springsteen, Cannonball, Charlie XCX, Cheap Sunglasses, Cherrytree Records, Coachella, Coachella 2015, Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Dance, dance music, Daryl Palumbo, Dawes, Dillon Francis, Don Henley, Dreamers, electronic, electronic music, electronica, Ellie Goulding, Elvis Costello, Festival, First Aid Kid, Flux Pavillion, Get Low, Google, Graves Dancers Union, Hardwell, Hopium, Illuminate, In 'N Out, In 'n' Out Burger, Interscope, Interscope Records, Interview, Jenny Lewis, Joe Jackson, Keep Our Love Alive, Las Vegas, LMFAO, Martin Solveig, Matthew Koma, Music, Music Festival, OneRepublic, RAC, Rocky Ground, Ryan Adams, Ryan Tedder, Sebastian Ingrosso, Serotonin, Shania Twain, Smokey Robinson, Soul Asylum, Spectrum, Springsteeen, St. Vincent, Sushi Bazooka, The Boss, The Killers, The Miracles, The Tracks Of My Tears, The Wynn, Tiesto, Tom Odell, UK Dance Charts, Wasted, Wynn, Zedd
Singer/songwriter and producer Matthew Koma knows how it feels when a great song changes everything; more importantly, he’s listened — closely, truly — and he’s adamant about putting what he has heard to work — hard work.
For Koma, a near-lifelong commitment to music has yielded plenty of magic moments. Growing up on Long Island as the son of a singer/songwriter, Koma began dreaming up his own songs at age nine and landed his first publishing deal by the time he was 16. That of course takes pluck, which Koma has in abundance. When tour doors were slammed in his face, he invented a booking agency and routed cross country sprees that took him from Tulsa to Tokyo and back again. Sure he ended up with only “$150 and a hot pocket,” but the experience was invaluable.
Although he’s a diehard rock-and-roll fan who caught his first Bruce Springsteen show at age three-and has seen The Boss some 30+ times-Koma also possesses an uncommon versatility when it comes to crafting hooks. It’s that versatility that led him to make a major splash in co-writing the 2012 smash single “Calling (Lose My Mind)” by Swedish DJ/producers Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso featuring Ryan Tedder (One Republic).
Koma again collaborated with Alesso, writing and featuring on “Years” (a track he performed live during Alesso’s set at the 2012 Coachella Festival). In addition, Koma co-wrote and is featured on “Sparks” by DJs Nicky Romero and Fedde Le Grand, as well as on EDM phenom Zedd’s “Spectrum” (the number-one dance single of 2012 which Matthew performed live with Zedd at the 2013 mtvU Woodie Awards.) Matthew and Zedd teamed up again on Zedd’s platinum hit single “Clarity”.
With his latest achievements including remixing Springsteen’s single 2012 “Rocky Ground” (after getting hand-picked by his hero for the track), Koma has also toured extensively throughout North America and Europe with artists like LMFAO, Charlie XCX and Ellie Goulding.
Describing his songwriting process as “manic and inconsistent,” Koma says he thrives on constantly experimenting with new approaches to developing melodies, hooks, and lyrics.
“My favorite songwriters are the ones who tell stories that are rooted in real emotion, but who find a way to get there that isn’t obvious or direct,” he says. “There are so many roadmaps to a great song, so many different ways to get to that destination,” he continues. “And to me, the challenge of carving out my own path and speaking from my perspective as I’m looking for it and defining and re-defining it myself, is always an inspiring and exciting thing.”
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to catch up with Matthew on the road. Read more in their interview below!
Hey Matthew! Where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
I am currently driving to Las Vegas with my brother and Canadian sister Stephanie to play at the Wynn. At this exact moment I’m passing the strange hotel/casinos on the outskirts of Vegas wondering who stays there when Vegas is 30 miles further!!! I guess they could be rad. I just passed the In’n’ Out catering truck too. Imagine having that thing roll up to your house on a Friday hang? Next level. I may have to do that soon. Invite my three friends over and go to town.
You just played Coachella! How was that experience for you?
It was really special. The show itself was really memorable and its a trip to walk around and see all the other artists right after you play. I saw Bad Religion, Ryan Adams, St. Vincent … Ryan was so good. Got to meet Greg from BR which was a highlight. Martin Solveig killed it. Jenny Lewis was amazing. RAC was incredibly handsome. And I ate a ton of food truck grub. Oh – and golf carts. I rode in more golf carts that weekend than my whole life. I want one now.
For those not as familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start in music? Who or what was the catalyst for you to get into music and make a career of it?
I grew up around music – my whole family was and is involved in music in one way or another. So it wasn’t as much of a “choice” as it was a natural progression…I started playing guitar really young and my brother and I had a bunch of bands together. We just kept doing it and sort of always followed whatever felt right. It’s led is down a ton of different roads but they’ve all been fun and I’m happy to be where I am…29 miles out of Vegas staring at an In ’n’ Out food truck.
You have worked with many talented artists including, Hardwell (“Dare You”) , Zedd (“Spectrum”), RAC (“Cheap Sunglasses”), Audien (“Serotonin”), Showtek (“Cannonball” – which landed #1 on the UK Dance Charts), Sebastian Ingrosso, Alesso, Afrojack, (“Keep Our Love Alive” / “Illuminate”),Tiesto (“Wasted”) and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic to name a few. What was the experience like working with some of those artists? What did you learn from all those guys?
Every experience is so different and they all help shape the way I approach writing / producing / creating. I’ve been really fortunate to work with a ton of talented people and I get to play a different role in each collaboration…so it’s never the same process and I always find myself taking away something from their process and trying it on for size.
It’s a really unique perspective to take a peek inside other people’s creative world – it inevitably effects how you approach a song the next time – it’s like seeing all these magicians work on their tricks. Some of them you can sit and watch them work face to face and still not totally see how they do it – it’s awesome and humbling.
I understand you are currently working on your debut album, Arcadia. How is that coming along? What did you learn between collaborations, remixes and playing live that you felt you wanted to infuse into Arcadia?
The record is finished ! I am really proud of it and it feels like a true snapshot of who and where I am right now. Every collaboration and every show I played these past few years helped shape this record – it’s all poured into this body of work for sure. I think it will make a lot of sense for people who’ve discovered my voice/ writing style / productions through my features and outside work and have followed along. It has the shades of those songs that made them mine, but I’ve had a chance to further define myself sonically and lyrically.
Records are interesting though…as soon as I finish I’m kind of on to the next chapter and destination so it feels good to get this debut out there as a platform to jump off of. I’m excited.
I understand you co-produced a remix of “Rocky Ground” for the one and only Bruce Springsteen back in 2012 and most recently, you recorded a cover of The Miracles, “The Tracks of My Tears” and someone made a surprise appearance to the studio that day? Can you tell me more about that special guest?
That was insane. Smokey walks in the studio while we’re recording a cover of his song and I was a bit speechless to be honest. There are very few songwriters and artists around that have seen as much as he has, and I mean…he’s written some of the most classic staples of music, period. His history is as impressive as his current state of hunger and desire to keep doing it. Keep creating. Keep connecting. It was an honor to sit with him and hear about his process and his life – he’s one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met and is the prime example of why nobody has any excuse to carry an ego what so ever. If that man walks in the room with the class, grace and appreciation for art that he has, then we should all be please and thank you-ing our way through this business for the rest of our lives. He sets the bar.
Who would your dream collaboration be with? Who would you like to collaborate with next?
Man. So many! I’d love to work with Elvis Costello on something. The man is king. I’ve stolen and borrowed and learned so much from him. And Taylor from the band Dawes. He blows my mind. I’d love to do something with the girls in First Aid Kit. – their songs and voices are beautiful. My list could go on forever.
Do you remember the first album you bought for yourself?
Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union. Still fucking rules.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
It was definitely Don Henley. And that’s why.
Who is in your current playlist? Any artists, musicians or genres we might be surprised to find in there?
I’ve been obsessed with the latest Brandon Flowers album as of lately…and I love everything Munk puts out. Hmm… The new Dawes album that’s just coming out is insane and I’m already obsessed from the songs I’ve heard live. And hearing some of Dillon Francis’ new music has been SUPER inspiring. He’s going somewhere different and I love it.
There’s this song by Hopium called Dreamers that has been haunting me for a few months now too. And Daryl Palumbo just sent me a bunch of new music from his band that’s really rad and sounds like Joe Jackson.
What’s on tap next for you? What are you most excited about in 2015?
Releasing my record! I can’t wait for that. I’m stoked on a few new collabs too – one with Flux Pavillion and one with Dillon Francis that are really rad.
I’m about to start working on Shania Twain’s new record – her new songs are incredible and she’s getting up at bat to deliver something really special and unique.
I just worked on a bunch of songs with Tom Odell that I’m hyped on too – great voice he’s got.
Tinashe and I just did a song together for her new album… Tons of stuff. I’m pumped for it all. Oh and shit I just ordered this Sushi Bazooka my friend Katie told me about. Google it. That’s going to take up a ton of my free time in place of any ongoing neurosis.
To learn more about MATTHEW KOMA , visit him HERE