Tom Lagergren, better known as Matoma, the 26-year old Norwegian DJ and producer, is having an epic year, bringing his noteworthy sound to huge dance music festivals like Electric Forest. While Firefly Music Festival is a multi-genre event, Matoma was also able to give its attendees the show of their lives at that festival’s 2017 installment.
Whether its old school hip hop, tropical, future house or even R&B, Matoma shows his eclectic taste in his original productions, and in his DJ sets. His boisterous and down to earth personality radiates heavily throughout his production of melodic tunes, creating a precise depiction of good vibes, as well as making an easy connection to his personal highlight on the importance of life balance.
We had the chance to catch up with Matoma before he threw down his unforgettable set at Firefly Music Festival.
As you read our interview, blast your speakers with Matoma’s ‘Running Out’:
First of all, how are you? Are you excited to be performing here at Firefly?
Oh I’m so excited! This is probably one of my favorite festivals here in the states. Since my agent booked it, I’ve been excited to get here. Two years ago I was so bummed because my set got cancelled here due to thunderstorms, so hopefully today I will see it through and make people dance.
What has inspired you to create such a distinct sound for your music? Is it particularly important for you to have a sound that helps you stand out from other DJs?
My sets are like a continuing story from records that influenced me during my childhood. A lot of hip-hop and urban-inspired stuff in my sets. When it comes to my music, I just create and produce what I feel is inspiring at the time. I’ve put out pop songs, and more urban tracks too. I feel that I have shown my audience that I can produce and create music in a diverse way, but also I will always make music in the way that I like to. I think that’s why it reaches out to so many people.
Similarly, do you enjoy listening to other genres?
I love listening to all types of music – classical, pop, rock music. One genre I don’t like is black metal. I can listen to soft metal like In Flames and Dark Tranquility, where I can actually hear what they are singing. But when it gets darker, for example with one Norwegian band, they sing brutally – you can’t really hear what they are singing. Still, I don’t judge the music – people listen to it and love it. As long as people like it and it reaches out to them, then the purpose of the music is good. Music is diverse and different genres connect with different people.
Do you have any favorite artists, bands, or tracks, maybe one that’s always on repeat?
I like so many different artists. Like my Spotify playlist is so diverse. Usually, when I travel I listen to a lot of classical music just to relax and have fresh ears for when I get into the studio to create music. I love putting on shuffle mode on Spotify and listening to whatever comes on. One of my favorite tracks right now is “Something Like This” by Coldplay and The Chainsmokers.
Which track of yours are you most proud to have produced, and why?
I’d have to say my new song right now with Faith Evans and Snoop Dogg, “Party on the West Coast”. It was a huge milestone to be scheduling a tribute for Biggie on his birthday, the 21st of May, 20 years after he passed away, with his wife and the legend Snoop Dogg.
What would you say has the most influence on your music?
I’d have to say, the world. The earth. Everybody influences me. My childhood, my local community, the people that I grew up with. My friends, the people I play music to. My fans. I’m a person and I feed off others’ energy. I travel a lot, and even though I hate planes, it’s always worth it when I get on stage. Going up there, looking at the crowd, the people that are there for my shows, I feel their energy.
What advice would you give to an aspiring DJ trying to make it right now in the industry?
So many people say “I want to become like this DJ”; it’s good to have inspiration, but don’t pursue the dreams for being that person. Be critical of your choices, when it comes to efficiency and producing music. It’s easy to think that if you buy a computer and start producing, the sound or music that you make, will make it. But you are competing against so many others in the industry, and the platforms are just getting bigger, the competition is growing more.
I started making music when I was 16, but I didn’t start putting out music before I was 23. That was because I didn’t feel that the quality of the music was there until I was 23 years old. It took me 6 years to get there. I probably made a thousand songs during that time, but it just wasn’t there yet. I finally got to that place after working on music 10-12 hours a day, for 6 years.
Pursue your dreams because you have the passion to do it. When I started, I did it for the passion I had, for fun, and for my love of music. I did it because I truly love music.
‘Life will always sort itself out if you spread good energy and love’
What are the differences and similarities you have noticed between the Norway dance scene and the U.S.?
The U.S. dance music right now is very similar to the Norwegian, but I feel the Norwegian scene is more inspired by pop-music and dance music in Europe. That said, I feel Norwegians artist and producers stands out and make music that they get inspired from all over the world and also sounds from Norway. The U.S. dance music is at the moment very radio and pop friendly and more influenced by urban beats.
What motivates you to create electronic music? What is your favorite part of the scene?
Life and nature in general motivate me. I get motivated by people and stories. I listen to a lot of different music, everything from classical to hard EDM. But to create sounds from nothing and end up with electronic melodies that flows and give rhythm to my body is one of the main things that makes me connect with the electronic music.
Do you have any mantras or life hacks?
No worries. Life will always sort itself out if you spread good energy and love.
Fans are all dying to know, how did the collaboration with Astrid S come about?
Astrid S has become a good friend of mine and we just happen to be in the same place at the right time. I got her contact information and we sent stuff back and forth to each other. She had a demo that she made in her bathroom because the acoustics there were fun and had charisma. It was called ‘Burning Out’. I got sent the vocals and I produced on it, everyone loved it and we went in the studio and rerecorded and wrote a second verse and bridge. The song changed name to ‘Running Out’ because we felt it was better.
Do you still fanboy when you meet other artists or celebrities? Any experiences you would like to share?
No usually not. They are just people living by being musicians, artists or other form of profession where they are a big attraction for media, but that doesn’t make them any less human than a regular guy in the streets. I love being around people with good energy and that have a good heart.
You tour majority of the year, how do you feel with being homesick while on the road?
It’s something that you get used to and everything is a balance. The amount of time being home equally to the amount of time being away is very important, so you have that balance and can also recharge being around your family and friends. It’s hard being on tour where you almost 24/7 have to stay sharp and contacted with all the shows scheduled in that time period, travel, preparing for shows, interviews, making music, interact with people in the industry, etc. There are so many things going on when you are on tour that there are basically just a few hours every day to rest. So the balanced life is so important to have [in order] to have the energy to do this for a longer time than a few years.
The first time I saw you perform was in Columbus, Ohio with The Chainsmokers. Can you tell me a little about your experience touring with them?
They are the most amazing and funniest guys I know. I have never in my life met such amazing and good people having their career blowing up so fast in a short amount of time and still the same people taking care of everyone. I love them and I look up to them. They have hustled and built themselves as one of the biggest acts in the electronic scene right now and I could not be more happy for them. The Friend Zone Tour I supported was one of my best and inspiring times in my career so far and I learned so much from them. I am forever grateful that I have been of their story and I hope they think the same of me.
If you had to create a list of goals that you had to accomplish before leaving the music scene, what would three of those goals be?
- Doing more charity and connect people to my music and my story.
- Make music with Will Smith.
- Make a documentary about my musical story that can be an inspiration for people.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017? What can we see next from Matoma?
I’m currently working on non-stop music, singles and my album. So people can expect more Matoma music, a lot more and I’m so excited. I’m also doing more charity and have spent some time with my management doing this. Maybe releasing short film of the last couple years of my career just to show people that everything is possible if you just put your heart and work hard <3
Matoma has recently became the cadence of music festivals- building up heavy crowds at events such as Bonaroo, Firefly and even making an appearance in Vegas during EDC week. Prying fans can also catch the DJ at Electric Forest and Life Is Beautiful.
Find where Matoma’s playing at next below:
Last but not least, get down to ‘False Alarm’: