Matthew Koma Finds ‘Clarity’

The voice behind EDM fans’ favorite tracks is at last ready to show off his other artistic talents

Photo by  Piper Ferguson

Photo by Piper Ferguson

The pop-y, high-tenor voice punctuating Zedd’s “Find You” and Tiësto’s “Wasted,” Matthew Koma also possesses some talents that you might not know about yet. The singer-songwriter grew up in New York, and was exposed to a variety of music that inevitably influenced his choice to take a chance on collaborations with producers before the EDM boom of the past few years. He employs an array of creative avenues, including musical composition, production, acoustic performances and DJ sets. When he’s not putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming album, Koma is on the road; catch Koma with Diplo at Surrender on August 30 during his summer mini residency.

Which came first: the singer or the producer?

It’s actually funny to me, because people think of me as a voice within the genre, and I never considered myself a singer. I’ve always sung because I write songs and the way to deliver those songs—to deliver the lyrics—is to sing them. I’ve always been a producer and writer and artist. A lot of the songs people know me for are songs for which I’ve been a part of the production, and, of course, written. And that’s not widely known yet.

Will your LP be familiar to your fans, or is it a departure?

I’m really excited for people to hear it, because I think people have discovered my voice and my songs via the collaborations, including “Spectrum,” “Dare You” and “Wasted.” [People] will be able to draw a line of comparison between those songs and my album. It’s nice to be working on a record that is a lot more reflective and representative of my stance and my music.

Are you working with a number of producers on your album or are you producing it solo?

I did the majority of it myself, and I brought in a few people that I feel really passionate about that are kinda newer on the scene. Arty from Russia—he’s great. And an artist from Haiti, Michael Brun, who I think is awesome. Between the two of them I’ve kinda brought them in as some of the only outside producers to work on a couple of songs because they’re doing stuff that’s fresh, different and new. It’s important—especially on this record—to have the lines separated between the things that I’ve done before and where I’m going. I’m a person who likes to keep moving forward, keep reinventing and keep doing things that I haven’t necessarily done before. So I didn’t want to go to all the people that I’ve already done collaborations with and do Round 2 of that, versus making something unique for this individual album.

Regarding “Wasted,” did you pull the inspiration for that song from any … real-life experiences?

The idea for that was definitely somewhat real-life inspired. It isn’t so much about a specific scenario as it is about the concept of how many couples and friends have this dynamic that’s toxic, but, for whatever reason, it works. I’ve seen that so many times myself, so many times in relationships with friends. A lot of the songs I write are pretty serious, so it’s fun to do something that’s just a bit lighthearted and fun.

What does a Matthew Koma club show look like? What will we get at Surrender?

They’re all different. That’s what’s been exciting about this past year or so: Depending on the venue [and] the scenario, I get to put on different shows. If you come see me at a hotel café show in Los Angeles, you’re gonna be seeing acoustic versions of the songs. If it’s something like Wynn, for the most part, they’re DJ sets. I don’t really plan so much as it’s kind of just on the spot. If I feel like picking up a mic and singing one of my songs, I will. If it feels like more of a mix-set night, then I will [do that]. I don’t really plan on hooking up an acoustic guitar at Wynn … but you never know.

Follow Koma on Twitter at @MatthewKoma.