We love Matthew Koma here at the Blog. He’s a multi-talent: a master (and GRAMMY-winning) songwriter, a producer, a vocalist, and a DJ. Well, get ready, because this musical aficionado will be performing two acoustic sets in LA this month! He’ll be gracing the Hotel Café stage on March 20th and 29th, so be sure to grab your tickets while you still can.
Having recently released his (killer) new single, “Hard to Love,” in February, Koma has a lot more in store for us in the coming months. He graciously allowed me to take some of his time to learn more about the single, what’s coming next, and to answer some questions I’ve always wanted to ask. Take a look!
“Hard to Love” is out, and a big congratulations on that one. How have the responses been so far?
It’s been really cool. I think this is the first body of work I’ve gotten to work on that felt cohesive and all one statement. So many collaborations I’ve done have been, in part, shared visions with other producers or writers, or their projects. This is the first time I got to kind of sit down and write songs that felt really reflective of me, and make a body of work instead of one-offs. “Hard to Love” felt like a very good introduction into that world. I’m excited for it to be out there because I feel like it’s really a representation of what I do and who I am. It’s cool to see people respond and react to that.
That’s awesome. It’s such a great song. On your Facebook page I see that you’re posting some remixes of it as well. Will there be more coming out in the same way there were with “Emotional” and “Cheap Sunglasses?” Any favorite remixes so far?
Yeah, it’s been really cool because getting to work with so many talented DJs and talented producers… you have years of these relationships with people. Whether its RAC or Flux or guys like that, it’s cool to be able to pick up the phone and say “Hey, I have this new single out. Would you want to do your version of it, your vision of it, and put it in your world?” So, it was cool to see what Niko the Kid did and RAC did. Tiësto also actually did a remix that we’re about to put out of “Hard to Love.”
It’s just fun to see how people interpret it, you know? It’s interesting because you have your vision of it that you put on your record, and that’s your artistic statement, and then these people kind of swallow it and spit it back out the way that they envision it. That’s always a fun thing.
Yeah, that sounds amazing. It’s so great that you’re able to do that – just send people something and be like “Hey, this is what’s happening. I’d love to hear what you’ve got!”
Yeah, I mean, I’m really lucky. Somebody like RAC and I have had such a great working relationship throughout the years. We’re constantly e-mailing each other with new music. Whether it’s him sending me tracks and once in a while having me be like “I love this I want to write on it,” or me sending him new songs of mine and having him say “Hey, I want to do something with this one,” it’s just really organic. I think the work is always better when it comes from an organic place and when people genuinely respect what others do.
Completely. So, you’re playing two acoustic sets in LA. What’s your favorite part about performing in this city? Do you have a favorite venue?
Yeah, it sounds kind of obvious but I do love playing Hotel Café because I really love playing acoustic shows. I think it resonates the closest to what I love doing and what I grew up being a fan of. To get to kind of strip down these songs and play them in that sort of setting – it’s always my favorite way to see music, so I think therein is also my favorite way to present music.
I’m really looking forward to it because, in addition to having songs that people may be familiar with and have been hearing different versions of, I get to use it as a showcase of new stuff. That’s always really exciting. As someone who writes a lot of songs, you’re always kind of looking for that ability to get on a stage somewhere and have a conversation with an audience. Hotel Café really allows for that in a very comfortable way. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows there.
That makes a lot of sense. You were previously speaking about how you’re getting some more remixes for “Hard to Love,” and I know you’re a big collaborator. You’ve worked with The Knocks, Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, and Flux Pavilion. Should we be expecting any other collaborations on upcoming singles (that you feel you can talk about)?
Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff coming out. I just did a song with Ghastly that I’m actually really pumped about. I was a fan of what he was doing and we kind of – again, organically, everything comes from an organic place on the internet. We should have like, a producer dating app or something because that’s how I get hooked up with most of these things. He and I were just going back and forth on Twitter and wound up working on a song together that we’re putting out in the next week, I think, called “We Might Fall.” I’m really excited about that and just releasing more music from my record.
The next song I’m putting out is a song featuring Jai Wolf that I’m really excited for people to hear. It’s a pretty special one to me. And then, on the totally opposite end of the spectrum, I just finished producing on a new Shania Twain album that’s coming out in April or May. That’s kind of a totally different lane of stuff from my record so that’s exciting. So yeah, I’m always just kind of at it and flirting with different ideas and different projects. It keeps me, as much as it seems like it’s confusing, focused to be involved in things that are kind of all over the map.
And what inspires you when you’re writing a new song?
I don’t know… some days I’ll tell you life is inspiring and some days I’ll tell you inspiration’s bullshit, and you’re a writer and you just need to show up and put pen to paper and whatever’s going to come out is going to come out. When you write songs, it’s how you communicate. You’re communicating with yourself, you’re communicating with an audience. It’s your filter of how you take things in and experience things. Everything, whether it’s a favorite band or a favorite record that’s steering me in one direction, or a place I’m traveling to – I think it kind of gets put into the backpack in some way and you pull it out when you get to a place where you can collect thoughts.
Absolutely. And was music something you always felt you were going to go for, or was it something you had to make a conscious decision to do?
I was born into a really musical family. My dad was a writer and my brother played drums, and I got my first guitar when I was three or four. So, it definitely felt like it was an organic development. It wasn’t a conscious, “oh, now I’m going to start doing this.” I feel like it was really natural. By the time I realized it was something I was doing “professionally,” it was just because I was doing something I enjoyed and that I loved. It was my way of feeling understood, and of communicating. I was lucky to just have people around me who supported that so early, at such a young age.
Do you have any piece of advice you have for other aspiring musicians (other than to just keep at it)? I know that’s putting you on the spot…
No, not at all! I think the biggest thing to always keep in check is just following whatever truth or honesty it is that you start to tap into. And it’s okay if you don’t exactly know what that is yet. As a young artist, I think you’re listening to things and collecting all these ideas of stuff that you like. At first what you do may be derivative, but eventually it helps you form your own perspective as you chip away at what it is you’re doing. I think that as long as you’re always honoring what feels good in your gut… having a unique perspective is what becomes invaluable in music and in the world – having something that is yours and that people can subscribe to because it’s something they can relate to in a way that they can’t relate to anywhere else.
So, for me the advice is always just finding that truth and honoring that truth. And that’s speaking more to a writer, but I think it also works for producers to – honing their craft and honing their sound, and finding something that feels like it’s representative of them and all the mixed bags of their inspiration. And just having fun with that! Because the process is everything. You never know where it’s going to lead. You don’t know if each song is going to turn into the one that becomes what you’re known for, or if it’ll completely tank. But as long as you’re enjoying the process, I think that’s everything.
I think that’s really great – a very sound piece of advice. I just have one last question, a fun little bonus: What artists are you listening to right now? Is there someone you’re really excited about that we should check out?
My favorite artist in the freakin’ world for like, the past two years has been the band Dawes. They’re actually from out here. I think Taylor [Goldsmith] is literally the best songwriter from this generation. He’s carrying a torch of what singers and songwriters have done for years before him, but he’s doing it his way and he’s continuing a chapter in a very fresh and unique way that I subscribe to. I’ve really enjoyed getting to see the past couple of years through his eyes, and hearing his stories. So, I’ve always been really excited about their records and their lives shows. They’re still one of the bands that make me want to get up and drive three hours to go see what they’re doing. So yeah, I would say them.
There you have it, folks! Make sure not to miss this incredible artist at Hotel Café. For more information, please visit Matthew Koma’s website.