Interview: Matoma On Biggie Remix, 'Living The Dream' Tour, Potential Rap Collabs
There are certain artists who have ruled the summer - The Weeknd, Drake, Fetty Wap and Major Lazer - but a certain sound is starting to not just dominate electronic music, but also permeate into pop as well. That summery melodic house sound that the likes of Kygo, Robin Schulz and Felix Jaehn have helped bring to the masses and even Bieber is experimenting with, is where Norwegian DJ, producer Tom Straete Lagergren, better known as Matoma, finds himself. The 24-year-old got internet famous after his remix of Notorious B.I.G.'s "Old Thing Back" blew up on SoundCloud and Spotify and was signed by Atlantic Records for an official release.
He has followed up that remix with a slew of others for the likes of Jason Derulo, Felix Jaehn and Eminem, taking the daring step to combine downtempo house music with hip-hop. We had the chance to catch up with Matoma before his set at the Billboard Hot 100 Festival to discuss his fusion of hip-hop and tropical house music, potentially working in hip-hop, dealing with sudden success and the rigors of touring.
He just kicked off an extensive "Living The Dream Tour" that takes Matoma across South America, Europe and North America over the next three months. You can find full details on it here.
Music Times: As more people do tropical house, how will you stay ahead of those other producers trying to become bigger in your field?
Matoma: As long as I just pursue my dream and keep building myself as an artist and stay true to myself as a musician and producer, finding new inspiration, I will develop my own sound. I started a long time ago and I had a unique sound. It's nice to be of inspiration to other producers, but I will always develop my own stuff while I'm going because I am always trying to think new and be creative.
MT: Speaking of your inspiration you started out with hip-hop why did you choose to make your remixes of hip-hop songs?
Matoma: Because old school hip-hop stuff is so groovy. The flow and the rhythm is swinging, it's so easy to adapt for new disco funk music. So I just tried to combine disco music, hip-hop, funk and the Caribbean sound. I ended up doing my own thing that people put under the genre tropical house and for me that's fine. I think "Old Thing Back" for example is more new hip-hop track, new disco track or pop track then tropical. But since you have the bongos and the pluck sounds its maybe easier for people to put it under the genre of tropical house because it's so hot these days.
MT: You started making hip-hop beats. Do you still do that? Are you going to do that with other rappers?
Matoma: Yeah of course I just signed a record deal with Atlantic and Parlophone in the UK. They have been really helpful at putting me in the studio with songwriters and other artist so the future is going to be exciting and I'm looking really forward to it.
MT: You're looking to move from remixes to originals, what are some of the challenges you face doing that?
Matoma: The main challenge is to have enough content to pick out the best songs that you are confident with and just trying to adapt yourself. Making new music and getting in the room with people who are passionate about your track. You can have a big name on your track but if the person that sings on your track doesn't feel the track it wouldn't be as great as if you find another artist that is great that loves the track. So to put the right people on the right tracks is also a big priority.
MT: Are there people that you are working with now or want to work with?
Matoma: Atlantic has a big repertoire of huge artists, so I think that choosing that team and knowing they have the roster of old school stuff that I can sample is a big tool for me and can take me to another level in music production and songwriting.
MT: As you move more to being a big official artist are you afraid your remixes are going to be taken down from Soundcloud?
Matoma: No I'm not. I think the remixes that I did on Soundcloud are too old for the record companies to put time into because there's so many people today who take a songs that are just released and making remixes. I have remixed stuff that's 15, 20 years old so bringing that back from the dead and giving it a new life can also help the original to get big again.
MT: Has it been difficult dealing with the sudden success?
Matoma: No. Of course it's hard on the body to always be traveling non-stop from one place to another but when you go on stage and feel the reaction from the crowd and feel the love from the people that come to your shows its 100% worth it. I'm so happy and so glad that I can do what I love to do and that for me is an important thing.
MT: What can we expect from your tour?
Matoma: My tour is going to be really cool, I think. We have a production line and I'm bringing out some friends and playing some new stuff, originals. It's just a time where I want to travel around show myself as an artist and spread the love and give the people a good time. I think that the "Living The Dream Tour" is going to be exactly like that, people coming out to my shows having the best time of their lives.
MT: Are you going to be on a bus?
Matoma: It's a second half with a bus and a first half with an airplane. The second half is also with The Chainsmokers. Really nice, talented guys.
MT: What do you have coming up?
Matoma: I have some really good stuff that I would love to talk about but I can't. I have some cool originals and collaborations.
MT: What is something most people might not know about you?
Matoma: I am a very easy person. I like having quality time with my family and just be a regular guy. As long as I'm with good people and family I'm happy.
MT: I know in Norway after high school there's a big crazy celebration Russefeiring? Do you have any interesting stories about that?
Matoma: Yeah I do. My bus was called "T*ts or Get The F*ck Out" so we saw a lot of t*ts. If you didn't show your t*ts you had to get the f*ck out!