Salty, sweet, nuts: Matthew Koma plays Pacha
There’s a strong possibility you’ve heard Long Island’s Matthew Koma sing. You might just know it. The genre-defying singer, songwriter and frontman has recently put down the guitar and swapped his sunny, hook-laden pop for the world of EDM, where his swooping, counter-tenor voice has been heard on smash hits such as “Dare You” by Hardwell and Showtek’s “Cannonball (Earthquake)”.
Indeed, his CV offers collaboration with the likes of Tiësto, Alesso, Steve Aoki, Nicky Romero, Fedde Le Grand, and Zedd, whose Grammy Award winning song “Clarity” he co-wrote.
He is also, it probably won’t surprise you to learn, an accomplished DJ in his own right, and will be bringing his talents to Dubai with a set at Pacha on Thursday, May 14th. ShortList was able to ask him what we can expect.
First things first: how do you pronounce your name? Coma or comma?
The O is silent. It's pronounced Khmmmmmm-ahhhhhhh.
Okay, we’ll bear that in mind. To the people who may be getting to you know you for the first time, how would you describe your sound?
I'd describe it as the sonic equivalent of trail mix. Salty. Sweet. Nuts. Hiding behind a popular belief that it's good for you. Take me on a hike, and it will energise you to new heights. That's how I'd describe my sound.
Will Dubai be getting Matthew-with-a-guitar or Matthew-with-Tiesto…? Bit of both?
This will be a one night only of Matthew with a yoga mat. AlthoughI do carry around a small action figure of Tiësto so I can always be Matthew-with-Tiësto... Actually, this show will be a DJ set, and sometimes I grab the mic and sing a few. Always a favourite way to do shows for me… it’s a great excuse to play new remixes or new artists I’m really into.
What’s the ideal activity for someone putting on your last album, The Cherrytree Sessions?
You’ve obviously done a lot of high-profile, chart-topping collaborations in recent months. Who is the one artist/producer you can’t wait to work with?
I'm always inspired by working with different people because everybody’s process and drive is so unique that you can’t help but learn and approach each collaboration from a new angle. I couldn't narrow down to just one… I guess next on my “wish list” would be Ryan Adams and I absolutely love Munk. I’ve been talking to Darryl Palumbo from Glassjaw/Head Automatica a bit lately and I’m stoked to do some stuff with him.
There seems to be a popular revival of good old fashioned songs right now… Fun, Bastille, Of Monsters and Men. Will you picking up the guitar again soon?
Whatever genre is in fashion, good songs always prevail. Or at least songs that connect with people. Now more than ever there’s less of a fence between genres and you're seeing more and more people reach across boundaries to create their art. It’s a good time for a guy with something honest to say...
So, you’re 18 again, you’re auditioning for American Idol. What song are you singing?
What three songs got you here?
1. “Thunder Road” Live at Hammersmith, 1975 by Bruce Springsteen. It’s the reason I still make music every day.
2. “This Year’s Model” and “My Aim Is True” by Elvis Costello are records that are the definition of style to me.
3. Grave Dancer’s Union by Soul Asylum. I was like three and wanted to wear ripped jeans like Dave Pirner and felt like I could relate to his neurosis through his lyrics. That’s when I realised what an effect words could have!
What do you know about Dubai – and other than the gig, what will you doing here?
I know that there is a 0 percent crime rate. I plan on contributing to that trend as I’m afraid to invent the 1 per cent. It’s my first time in Dubai so I’m pretty stoked to take a look around and force some strangers into showing me the sites.