Matthew Koma talks early influences, his studio set up and going solo

Matthew Koma

Songwriter, producer and DJ Matthew Koma is the man they all want to work with, following a phenomenally successful stream of co-writes that have resulted in eight No. 1s on Beatport and four Billboard Top 10s, including the No. 1 single Clarity, co-written with Electro-House star Zedd.

The hit maker, who has successfully collaborated with dance music titans Hardwell, Tiesto, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, and disco legend Giorgio Moroder, is currently producing Shania Twain’s new album.

Signed to RCA for the release of his debut single So F**kin Romantic, we peek behind the curtain to find out what makes Koma tick.

What were your musical influences as a youngster growing up in New York?

I was really lucky to grow up in a place with so much to offer, with so many niches and scenes to tap into. My brother took me to my first local hardcore shows at random VFW Halls when I was five or six, and that was my first real exposure to a culture that revolved around music but cut through to lifestyle.

Between my brother and a family of musicians/writers who constantly blasted Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Tom Petty, I was a mutt. The first time I was exposed to dance music was through my friend Noah who played me a mixtape of stuff he’d been listening to at the time. On my first listen, DJ Shadow stood out, and that was a whole other culture to dive into, especially with the NY club scene being so accessible.

When did you feel you had the ability to choose songwriting as a career path?

It was never really a conscious decision. I wanted to be Dave Pirner and Kurt Cobain when I was seven and that never went away. I don’t even know if it’s fair to call it a hobby because it was something I did every day out of necessity.

I remember having my first recording set up with a four track and trying to bounce down between tracking live drums, bass and guitars. It was an obsession. I sucked at sports, still do.

So F**kin’ Romantic has a very electroacoustic sound, is dance pop an area you’re looking to stay in?

I don’t necessarily think I’m looking to “stay” or “not stay” in any specific genre. I’ve been really fortunate to find a voice within electronic music. It’s one aspect of what I do and enjoy immensely.

When I write songs or make records, I’m much more concerned about the quality of the message and the honesty of it versus whether it fits into a particular box. You never know where a slight left or right turn can take you, but as long as it’s me making that decision I’ll feel good about it.