Twist on PR

Putting a twist on music + the professional life

Matoma shares the story beind his name, talks tour life, rap music today + more [Interview]

InterviewRebecca PotznerComment
photo: Martin Litwicki

photo: Martin Litwicki

From his Biggie remix  to "False Alarm" and "Running Out", Tom Lagergren aka Matoma has caught the attention of millions. His music and stage presence is an automatic mood booster. Matoma has been working hard releasing remixes and original pieces, collaborating with big artists and bringing the energy to show after show. Now, Matoma is headlining his own tour. The Party at Your Place fall tour features support from Cheat Codes, Steve Void and Baynk, creating the perfect party vibe. Backed with strong production and an insane neon light shaped like Matoma's face, this is a show you don't want to miss. Find the rest of the tour dates below...

Half way through the tour, Matoma and the Party at Your Place crew stopped in Columbus, Ohio to put on a show with Prime Social Group at Park Street Saloon. Check out what Matoma had to say about tour life, the full story behind his name, playing Bonnaroo, his thoughts on current rap music and more.... 

(Psst! Scroll down and listen to the full interview.) 

How is tour so far? 
Tour is going amazing! So far, we’ve had 4 sold out shows and tonight is going to be fun. It’s my first ever bus tour here in the states and we’ve been working here for 10 months on the production and just getting along. The team has been working really hard, so to finally be on the road is amazing. 

We have had some obstacles already like, David, my light guy had one of the big light cases fall on his foot. He almost broke it. So, he is a little disabled. We’ve also had a few issues with the stage but now everything is up and running. So, I’m excited!

So, great timing….how is traveling on the bus with everybody?
The atmosphere is really good. Like, the Cheat Codes guys are amazing. They have a sense of humor. But, I really don’t understand why people are using the electric toothbrush.... 
(Stares over at Matthew Russell of Cheat Codes using an electric toothbrush at the sink.)

MR: You get more brush strokes per minute, I’m kind of a hard brusher so you get that circular motion. I actually had a receding gum line. Use the circular motion and it’s all better. 

RP: The things you learn on tour!

MR: I’ll show you guys a before and after… 

Any cities you’re looking forward to visiting? 
Every city! Yeah, it’s an adventure. Every city is a new city. Of course, I’ve been to some places before but i’m really looking forward to the West coast gigs. But the whole tour is just a really nice experience. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and now I’m here. 

Any big plans after tour? 
Yeah, after tour I’m going on vacation to Asia with my girlfriend. We’re going to spend 4 weeks in Asia and experience China, Philippines, and Vietnam.

Have you ever been?
I’ve been to Asia before but not to those places. Really looking forward to seeing the Great Wall of China and to experience Beijing and Chinese culture. Also, to experience the Philippines and all the islands. Oh, and scuba diving! It’s going to be amazing. 

You’re album is titled Hakuna Matoma, a play off of Hakuna Matata. Would you say Hakuna Matata is a mantra you live by?
Yeah, I do. Do you want to hear the story of why it’s Hakuna Matoma? Actually, that’s how I got my name, Matoma.... 

So, my brother and I had been at a concert in Trondheim. It’s the third biggest city in Norway where I live. It was a Calvin Harris concert and we invited all of our friends to an after party. We were drinking and having a good time. When my brother drinks, he always tells the truth. So, he says to me “Tom, your name is shit. I’m only saying this because you’re my brother. It’s terrible and you need to change it.” So, we started an argument and it got heated. So, one of my friends misinterpreted the conversation because he thought we were about to fight. Sometimes, me and my brother can get rough. He gets between us and says,

 “Tom, dang, can’t you take life easy and be more like Timon and Pumbaa? Hakuna Matata!” 

My brother wanted to back phrase that but instead of Hakuna Matata he said Hakuna Matoma. I said, “Oh, snap. Matoma, that’s really cool.” So, we wrote it on the living room table with a marker and the next day when we woke up, I changed all my socials to Matoma. That’s why I called my album Hakuna Matoma. 

Have you ever sang along to Hakuna Matata but incorporporated your name instead? 
No, but actually when I was in New York last time I went to the musical. It was insane. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. 

What pulled you into producing Tropical?
I have no idea. I feel like the tropical term is a little vague. A lot of people put everything that sounds similar to tropical house into that genre immediately like that’s the answer. For example, ‘Old Thing Back’, I don’t look at that as a Tropical House record. I  look at it as more of a nu-disco, nu-hip hop flavored song that has an island vibe to it. Some other songs, like ‘I Found You’, is more tropical and can be considered tropical house because it’s 128bpm and it’s got house elements in the song. 

It’s the same with EDM. People misuse the term. It’s just an expression for electronic dance music and that’s what pop music is today; music made on a computer. If you look at the tropical term, all these big artists have tropical elements in their songs. Like Sia for example, David Guetta, Calvin Harris. There are so many people that use those sounds because it’s current. 

People ask me, “Oh, do you think tropical will die out?” EDM has been around for so many years. You see all these artists like Martin Garrix who has developed but still produces his sound and uses elements he has used since day one. It’s just about being talented, creative and being inspired to produce new music. 

You’re known for your remixes - are you constantly listening to music thinking “oh, that would make a dope remix?” - How do you decide what songs to remix?
Yeah, always! I’m always curious to try out new stuff and am inspired by other artists. That’s why I started remixing but now it’s different. Now, I’m an artist signed with a label that helps me find songwriters. When I did all those remixes, I didn’t have that portfolio or contact with people I could hook up with in the studio to create a song. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of official remixes. There’s two different types of remixes. You can do an official (remix) where the label contacts you and asks for a remix and they’ll send you the stems. So, it’s easier to get nicer quality than if you just rip off a YouTube acapella because that’s shitty quality. I remember when I did ‘Old Thing Back’, I just ripped it off of YouTube and I made it sound even better than the original. Then Atlantic wanted to sign the record as an official single, so we asked for the original accapella but they couldn’t find it! It’s only a shitty ripped mp3 file. 

RP: But it works!

Matoma: It’s a Smash! It took two weeks to clean up the vocal because it sounded so terrible. I was just so inspired because it was Biggie and I had this idea of how to compliment the vocals. So, I tried it out. 

What’s your favorite Biggie track?
Oh, there are so many! I love the dough, Hypnotize, Juicy, Gimme the Loot. I’d have to say either Hypnotize or Juicy. Just the flow of Hypnotize, like he raps in a certain way because he’s so big. Nobody can compare. 

Favorite hip hop artist now?
I really like Big Sean. I like G-Eazy, Ty Dolla Sign. I like the guys that rap in a way you can actually hear the lyrics and connect to what they’re saying. It’s not just random stuff coming out of their mouth. There are so many rap artists today where you don’t know what they’re saying. And also, when you find out what they’re saying, you don’t understand why they aren’t clear because they’re just the most shitty lyrics you’ve ever heard. Seriously. 

I first saw you at Bonnaroo, for the Silent Disco. Did you like playing that?
I like everything. I like the mixture of everything and going outside of the box. I didn’t know what to expect with the silent disco but after I played it I was like, this is one of the funnest gigs I’ve ever had. It was just an unexpected experience and seeing all the people having a really good time. That’s my motto: having a good time, sharing it with friends. Life is too short to be serious. You should work hard, of course, but you should also have in the back of your mind that you’re in a good place. There are so many people in the world that have a shitty environment and to actually be able to go to all these festivals and travel  with friends, experience artists and have a good time, like value it. I really like Bonnaroo because they are all about positivity.

I just remember when we played the Calliope stage at Bonnaroo. It was after a headliner on the mainstage, so everyone was walking to their tents. I started playing and everyone stopped. It was like 40K people just listening to my music. They were jumping and stage diving. It was insane. I remember, Stian was with me, and afterwards we were both like this is one of the best experiences so far. Remember that Stian?

Stian: Still is. 

Matoma: Just the last two years have been crazy. And the funny thing is that we’ve been doing so many different gigs. We’ve been headlining gigs but we’ve also been playing smaller clubs for like 200 people but every show is the best experience. 


I saw you went to Budapest and that it was one of your favorite cities you’ve visited. I went there a couple years ago and absolutely loved it. 
Yeah, my girlfriend has been there 5 or 6 times the last couple of years and she said to me “Tom, we need to go to Budapest.” So, in early June after I had been touring we went there for 5 days. It’s the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen and the people there are super nice. After that, we went to Austria and Switzerland. 

One last question, do you drink coffee and how do you take it?
I drink all types of coffee. I drink all types of tea. I drink all types of alcohol. I drink all types of everything. I actually have a tropical drink that is called Tropical Matoma. 

Listen to the full interview here.