We had a great time hanging with Matoma in Boston last night! After chatting about tech, gear, travel, and finding out his favorite Norwegian food, he told us to kick back while hooking up a speaker to play some new new that hash’t been released yet. We wish we could say who he’s working with next, but you’ll find out eventually…
Yeah, but my English might not be that good.
What are you talking about? It’s great.
►I have improved…
Were you nervous your first time coming here to the US?
►I was a little nervous, but I had a warmup tour in Canada, which is pretty much the same [as the US] but up north and it reminds me of Norway. I had that in November and it was a big success. I was really excited to come here and my first tour in the US was in February and March; that was my Midnight Sun Tour. That was a dope ass tour. It was really cool and that was the foundation of starting here. Since that, it’s picked up… this summer I’ve been doing crazy festivals: Bonnaroo, Firefly, HARD, Ultra, and Bisco.
How do you tailor a set for a festival crowd vs. a club crowd?
►The difference is when you play hard ticket clubs, you know the people show up are showing up to hear your stuff and to see you. But at festivals, it’s both. You have a bigger crowd, but at the same time, the crowd may not know who you are. It’s important to understand the concept to adapt your sets, but at the same time keep your own style and flavor. I always try and build my set around the crowd.
Let’s talk about your remixes. What’s your process like?
►I remix songs I really like and songs I find the acapellas for. Like, I was really lucky about The Notorious B.I.G. song because I was just searching the Internet on YouYube and suddenly found the acapella for “Old Thing Back” and I thought it was good quality. So, I downloaded it, spent two weeks cleaning up the vocals to get them to sound good, and remixed the song.
Speaking of finding and using acapellas, any thoughts on [Traktor] Stems?
►You can use them to DJ when you’re at the club, but the quality doesn’t get studio quality. Stems are good to do mashups in the club, but if I want to do a proper remix and put it out, I need the best quality.
Do you use Traktor to DJ?
►I started playing on Traktor then I switched to CDJs. I use both SD cards and a laptop.
Which headphones you use?
►For DJ’ing, Audio Technica M50; I also use those when I’m the road because they’re good studio headphones with good balance, a lot of dynamic, and a good bass response. They’re a little too crispy in the top end so you need to consider that when you’re mixing. Back home, I have some pretty sick ones; I don’t remember the name but it’s German and they’re made of bamboo.
And you said earlier you use Cubase to produce. Why Cubase?
►When I was 16 yeas old, I bought my first studio computer and Steinberg had a sequel for Cubase called Sequel. It was really basic with drag-and-drop samples, but I started using that and learned the basics of producing. Then I bought Cubase 5 and have stuck with it. Now I’m on version 8.5.
You also mentioned you went to school with the intention of becoming a music teacher.
►I have a Bachelor’s degree in music production and technology, and I applied for one more year at school. In Norway you need one more year to teach high school and middle school. I got in, but then my music just blew up and now I’m here.
What would you say is the most important thing to teach music students?
►To teach them to discipline their time. You could have the musical talent and be good at producing, but there are other ways to spend your time, too. You can still do a lot like learn new techniques and read books about mastering and mixing, so it’s about structuring your time and being able to pull resources when you can.
Do you classify your genre as tropical house, as many people do?
►No. I think it’s the new pop. “Old Thing Back,” for example, is more a nu disco/hip hop track than a tropical house track. It doesn’t have all the elements to call it a tropical house track, but it’s easy to call it that because of the pluck sounds and the bongos and the tropical feeling about it. But of course, I do produce tropical house tracks.
But that’s not all you do.
►No. I think people can call it what they want as long as they like the music and figure out what they enjoy.
Do you think the concept of genres will go away?
►I don’t put any song under any genre these days because they blend so well with each other. If you go through the tech house section on Beatport, suddenly there’s a future house track under the same label. It’s really difficult to understand the concept of a genre now because they can be so similar. I just like to play good music and get people excited and dance. Whether it’s a future house or tropical house or trap song, I don’t care, as long as people enjoy the set. Three weeks ago I was in Brazil playing for 60,000 people at a festival called Villa Mix. I didn’t think they’ve ever had DJs there before because the crowd didn’t know how to respond, but I worked them and learned some Portuguese before going on stage; within five or six songs, they were dancing and I was really happy. The promoter came up to me backstage and said they’ve never seen the crowds in Brazil act like that.
Which mics and preamps to you use to record your horns?
►I recorded my horns when I went to school and made my own plugin. That plugin – the synthesizer and algorithm when I produce a track – reads the track, and analyzes it. If it’s more electronic, I can tweak the sound to make it sound more electronic. If it’s more acoustic, I can tweak the sound to make it sound more acoustic. I think i used a Neumann U87 for the sax and AKG microphones. I don’t remember the preamp because it was five or six years ago.
You probably get asked that all the time.
►No, actually not. I do a ton of interviews but I’ve never heard a question about preamps and mics. They ask me my inspirations and basic stuff like where I come from. But amps and mics, that’s good. You are using a good sound card. *points to our Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 we’re using to record*
We love Native Instruments.
You know the new D2‘s? We just got two of those. Have you used NI controllers?
►Oh, sick! Yes, I’ve tried them out but I like to be as basic as possible when I’m DJ’ing because 95% of the tracks I’m playing have already been done in the studio. When you play tech house and deep house and minimal, you can do all kinds of crazy stuff because you have room for it. But when you’re using more complex tracks with a lot of vocals and stuff happening, and you suddenly put on effects, it doesn’t always sound good and can ruin the sound. I would love to travel with more if I found the necessity to use it in my sets, but I don’t because 95% of the tracks I’m playing have vocals and are finished with effects.
What do you travel with?
►My computer. I’m doing a two-month tour right now and only have a carry on. In that small bag I have four sweaters, 13 T-shirts, a bunch of trousers and socks, and four pairs of pants.
Easy enough. Do you have a favorite airline?
►Because of the Sky Club. KLM and also SAS. I’m almost diamond… I have five more flights. I like to travel. We travel so much and get fascinated by the airplanes and try to read about the planes we’re taking and learn the engines. In high school, for two years, I went to a flight mechanic school so I know a thing or two.
What’s the hardest part about your wild travel schedule?
►Waking up at 6am when I just did a show that ended at 2am with a flight at 9am. Sometimes it’s hard to go on to the next place. I also don’t like the food on planes. It’s terrible so I always try to have a proper meal before I fly.
What’s your favorite Norwegian food?
►A type of meatball with sauce and fresh vegetables and a special potato. It’s really good.
Is anything you’ve been dying to try in the US?
►The Mexican food [here]. We don’t have all that [in Norway].
So… like Chipotle?
►Yeah, I really like that. I also tried something called In-N-Out in LA. I really liked that burger.
Did you order off the secret menu?
►They have a secret menu?
Now you know.
►You’ll have to take me sometime.
See you there.