If you’re a dance music aficionado, chances are you already know about Matthew Koma. Providing vocals for the likes of Tiësto and RAC? Check. Co-writing the GRAMMY-winning “Clarity” with Zedd? Check. Spinning for a dance-happy crowd at Coachella’s Sahara tent this year? Check (twice).
Koma has gotten a ton of visibility over the last year for the artists he tends to rub shoulders with, but he’s poised to make big waves of his own in 2015. He’s putting the finishing touches on his self-produced debut album, which is set to drop this summer, and if that aforementioned Sahara tent set is any indication, it’ll be chock-full of quintessential summer party jams.
I recently had a chance to chat with Matthew. Read on to find out what he had to say about his upcoming album, collaborations, and musical sushi.
Great job on your debut Coachella set this year! What was that experience like for you?
Thank you! It was a blast. It’s rare to play shows amongst so many other artists from all walks of life. I got to play my set and then see Bad Religion, Ryan Adams, St. Vincent…and eat at every food truck that has ever been trucked.
2014 was a huge year for you, collaboratively. Any crazy stories on how some of these collaborations came about?
Tinder. All Tinder and J-swipe. No, really, so much of it came about really organically. I feel really fortunate to be a part of all of them. A lot were via Twitter, friends of friends — just being out there and meeting people.
What’s the story behind your debut album’s title, Arcadia, and what can we expect from the album?
It’s actually not called Arcadia anymore. I changed my mind and rewrote a lot of the record. I’m really excited for people to hear it, and I’ve spent a lot of time writing and sorting through which songs make the cut. It’s a body of work that draws from a lot of the places I’ve been and collaborations people know me from, but with a definitive direction that’s unique to me.
Can we expect some crazy awesome collaborations on it?
The whole album features Matthew Koma, so yes.
How do your punk-rock roots influence the electronic tunes you’re currently producing?
Everything influences everything. Music is such a long journey, and you’re constantly listening and evolving alongside peers and technology. My singer-songwriter roots and growing up around the hardcore scene in New York definitely have a lot to do with why I got into music. I think whatever it is you grew up on sort of sneaks into your art subconsciously no matter what the genre is. It’s ingrained in you to some degree.
You sing, you songwrite, you strum, you produce, and you mix. What new musical skill are you working on getting down now?
Figuring out how to make sushi make sound and then play sushi live.
I normally hate asking people who their major influences are because it seems kind of cliche, but given your diverse musical background, I have to ask: who are your major musical influences and why?
There are so many for so many different reasons. A lot from the singer-songwriter side: Springsteen, Costello, Squeeze, Petty. I’ve learned so much from their writing and their spirits that has built a huge part of my foundation: reaching people in a universal but unique way. That’s what attracts me to music, whether it’s as a writer, singer, or a producer. I’m finding a way to connect with people in a direct way, but getting there with different maps.
You’re originally from New York but packed up and left to come to Los Angeles. What prompted the move?
It was time for a change. I grew up writing every song I ever wrote in NY and only seeing through those eyes. I like change. I like finding ways to feel at home in new skin.
How are the scenes different?
Every scene is different because everything around you is different. The rhythm of the city, the people around you. Here in LA, it’s a bit more laid back compared to the hustle of NYC. But New York never leaves you wherever you go. People have tans here. Not real ones, really, because they sit in traffic instead of going to the beach.
Having lived here for some time now, what’s your impression of LA?
There’s no better place for dog watching on high mountains.
For more info: