He also doesn't think sweatpants are sexy. But they are!
Whether it’s from the smash hit, “Find You,” that he collaborated on with Zedd, or the soaring anthem, “Dare You,” he made with Hardwell, chances are good that you’ve probably had Matthew Koma’s uniquely powerful voice stuck in your head at one point or another. But although his voice has become a recognizable staple in the EDM scene, the LA-based singer/songwriter is on track to have a massive year in 2016 elsewhere, with an album and collaborations that will inevitably help to establish his cross-genre appeal.
We caught up with the pop-EDM dreamboat to find out how "fucking romantic" he really is, who he would have in an imaginary band with and what his plans for the New Year are before he zooms into Denver for Decadence NYE on December 30 & 31.
What kind of music did you listen to while you were growing up?
"I grew up listening to a lot of different shit. A lot of hardcore bands when I was growing up, and living in Long Island, that was a really big scene, so there’s that on one hand. But then at the same time, my parents were into Springsteen and Elvis Costello and stuff like that, so there was plenty of that around the house too. I’m kind of all over the place, but yeah, I was definitely into the hardcore and punk rock culture."
If you weren't doing music, what would you be doing?
"I would be an aspiring chef. And I say 'aspiring' because I don’t think that I’d be good enough for other people to actually eat my food, but I would put in enough time to make stuff that I enjoy."
What have you been working on lately?
"I’ve been working on a ton of stuff. I’m finishing up my album, which has been a long work in progress, and I’m excited to be nearing the end of that. I just got out of the studio for a while with Shania Twain, working on her album, which is on the complete other end of the spectrum. I just did a song with Jai Wolf that I’m really psyched about. I’m touring or writing or recording every day, so if it’s not one thing, it’s the other."
Would you rather be associated with pop music or EDM? Or do you just want people to listen to your music?
"That’s a really good question, and, you know, I don’t really know. I mean at the end of the day, I do love pop music, and I do love electronic music, and I do love singer/songwriters. However people relate to me or categorize me is fine, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to think of myself as just one of those things. I’m fortunate to be a part of bunch of things that don’t necessarily fit into one genre. Really, I’m just happy to be making music and have people that relate to it no matter what the context is."
If you could pick three other musicians (alive or dead) to start a band with, who would you pick and what would your band be called?
"Hmmm, I’d pick Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Clarence Clemons from the E Street Band because he’s fucking awesome. There would probably be some lead-singer drama going on, but I’m sure we could sort that out in a band meeting. And the name of the band would be — well I’m passing a makeup counter in the mall, so now I think the band would be called 'Clinique.'"
Do you have a favorite show that you’ve played or one that sticks in our memory?
"So many of these shows are surprising because you never really know what to expect, especially the ones in foreign countries. It’s pretty incredible to write a song in your bedroom in your underwear and then you travel to Indonesia and people know the words to it. [After a moment of thought] Actually this one time I was opening for Sting and he came up and asked me during sound check if he could join me for one of my songs that he liked. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. Oh and Sting can be in Clinique too!"
Just how 'fucking romantic' are you?
"Well I’m currently walking around the mall in a pair of sweatpants, so not very romantic at the moment [laughs]. I guess it’s hard to say; chances are that I’ll sound like I’m talking myself up and sound like a douche, so let’s just say that I’m humbly unaware of how romantic I am. I play it up in my songs, but I’m actually sort of shy and quiet in real life."
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
"I say this every year, but I need to do a better job of being in the moment and looking around. I travel a lot and work a lot, and sometimes I forgot to look up and keep my head in the moment. I’m always thinking of the next place or the next song, but I need to be more mindful of enjoying the opportunities and the places that I get to see because of those songs. I’m guilty of being a workaholic."
What goals do you have for 2016?
"On a personal level, I live in California and all of my family is from New York and there’s just never enough time to see them and spend time with them, so I definitely want to see them as much as possible this year. On a professional level, I’m just really excited to put out my album. It’s been such a long time coming. It’s been a really long year with a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on, but now I’m just ready to put a record out and I’m lucky to have that opportunity."