Matthew Koma Talks Singer-Songwriter Roots, Remixing Bruce Springsteen + More [Exclusive]
Matthew Koma doesn't play by the rules. The singer-songwriter has worked with EDM artists like Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso. He's also partnered with Zedd, featuring on and co-writing 'Spectrum' and 'Clarity,' respectively.
On the flip, Koma's debut album 'Arcadia,' due out in late 2013, doesn't mask the fact that he culls much of his personal inspiration from edgy singer-songwriters like Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen. Speaking of the Boss, Koma was hand-picked to remix the legend's 2012 single 'Rocky Ground.' Clearly, he doesn't pledge allegiance to any genre, and while we've gotten to know him from 'Spectrum,' he's a singer-songwriter at heart, but a flexible and adaptable one at that.
Oh, and he's also dating pop songstress Carly Rae Jepsen.
It's certainly good to be Matthew Koma right now, and that's why PopCrush had to get to know him on a more intimate level. In this exclusive interview, we share what we learned about Koma, whose new single 'One Night' is out now.
Do you ever worry that dating a famous person is a reason that people may pay attention to your music?
We don't pay attention to it. It's a weird concept to think that people look at your relationship and think it's something on display or under observation. I don't necessarily have those thoughts in my headspace. They are separate things.
Tell us a story about one of your songs on 'Arcadia' -- be it a writing or recording story. Share something intimate and detailed.
I was working on the record. We had late night sessions and we were night owls and I was coming off tour, flying into studios. I was not giving my body a break and I would be exhausted. One night, we were working on a song, and it was midnight. I was passed out on the couch, and I woke up to guys who packed up and [were] leaving. They were sort of pissed off. They were like, 'You fell asleep.' So then I wrote the song 'Suitcase' in 20 minutes and it ended up being one of my favorite songs on the album. It was a panic, like, 'No, I can get the song done right now, watch!' We can laugh in retrospect, since it became an important song. It happened in such a short span.
Writing it was almost like an 'I'll show you moment...'
Yeah, being overly exhausted from jet setting, I was like, 'No, I promise you'll see.'
What else can we expect from 'Arcadia?'
I think the record itself is unique in its production model, and it doesn't tie in with my previous features. It seems like it's a bit of a departure. It's kind of an exciting thing, and a best representation of my roots as singer-songwriter, in a contemporary way... I grew up playing in bands and being old school in how I write songs, figuring out the bare bones of the song before the production aspects. Those things are different than the production that has been done on my voice recently, since I have been working with DJs. That was the first look at me, for some people. My album is a departure from that, even though it stems from my original blueprint.
It's the EDM features you were doing that were the actual departure, since that genre does things differently that the singer-songwriter stuff you were raised on!
Exactly, but the songs were not a departure. The context was the departure. The songs remain the same -- with the same sense of sincerity. But the context was different, as was the process.
Being an organic songwriter, how did you alter your approach when working with this genre, which is so software and computer-based?
People I've worked with thus far, like Zedd and Sebastian, they are coming from the standpoint of using their computers and technology as a tool, but not as a crutch. They are passionate about it. It's still a different process. It's not about just pressing play. That's not the type of people I've worked with. Those guys are sitting there with different tools, but it's coming from the same place of musicianship and knowledge.
So how did Bruce Springsteen choose you to remix one of his songs? Do you have the same manager or something?!
I previously worked with a guy Ron who produced my older bands and he eventually worked on Bruce's record. After Bruce was done and touring, they wanted to release 'Rocky Ground' as a single, but with a version that was reproduced for radio and a radio alternate version. Ron called me up and asked if I would be interested in working it. We dug in and reproduced. It took three weeks before we got feedback. [Springsteen] ended up digging it. We still haven't interacted with Bruce, believe it or not!
It's still a great thing to have on your resume!
Yes, it was fun. It was a musically pleasing moment.
What else is going on in your world?
I found out this week that the song 'Clarity' is about to certified Gold, so that is exciting for me. We're just writing and producing, and finishing this record, and then there will be a tour. It's a busy summer.
Watch the Matthew Koma 'One Night' Video