CATCHING UP WITH MATTHEW KOMAMatthew Koma is known as the man with EDM’s Golden Touch. He’s been making electronic super waves alongside some other great artists lately. Between his hit song “Wasted” with Tiesto, “Illuminate” with AfroJack, his work with RAC on “Cheap Sunglasses”, and working on his own music, the dude is busy. Matthew took a minute during a stop in NYC to chat. Find out more about this interesting, cool and talented music man.
You collaborate on so much incredible music. What are some of your favorite recent projects? Thank you...I’ve been really fortunate to work with a lot of really talented people from different corners of the music world...it keeps things inspiring and they all sort of feed each other. I’ve been really wrapped up in my album as of late which has been a satisfying process after focusing for so long on other artists’ singles/albums. It encompasses a different kind of obsession and command when it’s “yours”, so that’s been something I’m taking very seriously. Before diving in, I just worked on some songs with Steve Aoki, Alesso and Seven Lions for their upcoming albums, Arty who is a newer artist I have a lot of belief in...a few surprises too that I’m excited to start playing for people. Recently got to work with a few of my all time favorites...
You must be excited to have some of your own music coming out later this summer. Will it be in the EDM genre? I’ve always been terribly uncomfortable with the idea of music fitting into one box so specifically that it’s considered “this” or “that”...I’ve always treated my songwriting as a process that isn’t solely driven by a production model or genre, but instead by a feeling, a connection...I feel like this record is capturing the spirit of that while absolutely wearing electronic influences. I feel like I found my place, a voice, a perspective that feels honest through a lot of my collaborations and features these past few years...So people can expect to hear a record that stems from those roots.
When did you recognize your musical gifts and that knack for making hits? I feel really lucky to tell stories and to see an audience building that connects with the places I’m coming from. I’ve never consciously tried to “make hits” nor do I feel like that will ever be apart of my psyche. I just try to speak to a truth and write about things I know and don’t know about. It’s an ongoing conversation.
Who would you say have been some of your greatest influences and inspirations? I was turned on to a lot of the greats when I was growing up and they’ve remained my staples. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Squeeze,...They’re all my secret weapons to call on for inspiration and influence. Or not so secret.
Outside of EDM, what do you like to listen to? I’ve been really huge on the band Dawes. I think Taylor may be one of the greatest songwriters from our generation. He has a perspective that is so unique and refreshing - that’s something that’s really hard to come by in a world of ideas that have all sort of been touched upon in one way or another. I also love the First Aid Kit records. Their voices are gorgeous and they’re amazing live.
You have great style. What designers or stores do you look to for your favorite wardrobe staples? I don’t think I have too strong of a dedication to any “one” brand as much as I like being comfortable. A lot of my clothes are shirts or jackets I’ve had forever - they’ve been around long enough to come back into style...or I haven’t gotten the memo that they’re out. Either one. I’ve always worn Nixon watches - sort of a thing my buddy James Del and I got into growing up and never grew out of. There’s a brand from France called the Kooples that makes a lot of rad jackets...I get a lot of my suits from this little shop in Tokyo from a guy named Joe Hiramatsu. That is as pretentious as I care to sound in this interview.
Your hair is always looking cool. Do you have any grooming product musts? It’s all in the coffee.
Your schedule lately is pretty non-stop. How do you get grounded and strike some balance in your life? I tour with my brother Kris, so there’s always a sense of family around...It makes everything feel a little less foreign when we’re taking it on together. The good and the bad. We try to stick to a few little routines no matter where we are and that helps keep things consistent. In general though, balance is a word I haven’t gotten overly familiar with. I really, sincerely am in it for the love of making music so any free moment on the road or during travel, I’m usually chipping away at something. Or eating. That’s it. I’m usually eating.
-words and gallery photos by Tina Turnbow -main photo by Piper Ferguson