Singer, Songwriter, DJ, and Producer, Matthew Koma, has touched base on just every aspect of music, and best known for providing his voice for today’s dance music culture.
Koma has recently found himself lending his talents to some of the industry’s top musicians such as Tiesto, One Republic, Zedd, and Alesso, in which each project became a hit. He is best known for his collaboration with Zedd’s all-time classic, “Spectrum”, and his feature with DJ Tiesto on the song, “Wasted”.
The electronic dance music’s ever-growing popularity created a demand here in the UAE to host Matthew Koma at Pacha Nightclub in Madinat Jumeirah last Thursday. In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya News, Matthew Koma gives insight on his upbringing, his breakthrough in the industry, and his time in Dubai.
Tell us about your early years… how you got into the industry?
I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Long Island, right outside of Manhattan. I was born in a very musical family. My dad is a singer/songwriter, my moms sang and my brother is a drummer and tours with me. So it was kind of one of those things I was born into. More so than I chose it, it chose me. But yeah I have been very fortunate to play in many bands growing up and write for a lot of different artists.
What kind of genres did you first start playing?
Well when I first started kind of getting into music, it was everything from records that my parents would play around the house which were very singer/songwriter driven… my brother was into very hardcore bands at the time. We had a very big local hardcore scene on the east coast so a lot of those shows and cultures is what I was exposed to from being 6/7 years old. So one of my first bands were from rock bands and punk bands, being fourteen or fifteen grabbing a guitar and putting bad hair product in your hair and playing with your friends. So I got to do that for a long time, and like anything I think you just evolve played in everything from .
So did you go to college or straight into music?
No I had my first record deal when I was still in high school…. So I started touring when I was about seventeen.
How did you get that record deal?
I can’t really explain it. A lot of people like to ask that question of “oh tell us the steps”. It’s not really steps… everybody’s story is so different. My particular story is just being out there and doing it and playing in a lot of local shows and building a following where I was from and working with a lot of different artists on the production and songwriting standpoint. So I could never really repeat those steps to get there and I could also never tell somebody “hey follow these ten steps and you’ll get here”. It was far from over night. I am 27 and I have been doing it since I was 6. It’s been a lot of hard work and persistence… discovering what I want and who I want to be and that evolves and changes.
So word of mouth is that you have been titled as the “King” of Electronic Dance Music. You have basically earned that spot in the music industry. When people think of EDM, they typically think of your music. What is that like for you?
I don’t think I am anywhere in that league. I think I have been quite fortunate to get involved in the genre at a time where its evolving and changing and to have traditional songs in the context of dance music and dance production is a newer idea. And I have been really lucky to be apart of that movement and to be able to work with DJ’s who are doing that so I am flattered to be apart of something that is allowing people to be hearing those songs. Its flattering people respect me in that sort of way.
So you are a singer, producer, songwriter, and DJ. Are there any other hidden talents you would like us to know about?
I love cooking. If you are lucky enough to be at my place at any mealtime, you are going to enjoy. It is like a buffet. I look cooking a lot of different stuff. I am mostly cooking and sometimes making music. So I think I am a chef at heart.
Who is one of your favorite musicians that you have collaborated with so far?
It is so tough for so many different reasons to answer that. Getting to work on some of Bruce Springsteen’s music was a dream come true because he is such a huge influence of mine. So that was mind-blowing. I have been really lucky to be working with people all over the map so it keeps me really inspired to jump from project to project and not be so genre specific but working with one of your hero’s is definitely a dream come true.
Favorite song that you have produced?
Definitely some songs in my record that are about to come out. That will be coming out this fall.
Are there any artists that you would eventually like to collaborate with?
Yes. I just did a song with Dylan Francis, which I am really excited about. I also just did a song with Flux Pavilion, which I am really excited about also. And on a completely different note, I am doing some work with Shania Twain on her new record. I also just did some stuff with Gavin Degraw on his new album.
What was your reaction when they asked you to perform here in Dubai?
I was really excited actually. Dubai is one of those places you always here about and it’s like its own planet. To come here and get the chance to kind of peak around, and then get to play and see your songs connect with the people who live here is really special. To be honest, my perspective on Dubai before I came was a little in the dark because the only thing that you really hear about is that it’s really just in it’s own bubble – a place that is very attractive to Europeans