Q&A: Matoma talks tropical house, Biggie remix going viral

By E.R. Pulgar

via Lola Izola
via Lola Izola

Prominent tropical house DJ Matoma sat down with WSN before his set at Webster Hall to talk about the idiosyncratic genre he helms and his viral remix “Old Thing Back,” which features Ja Rule, Ralph Tresvant, and an a capella sample of the late Notorious B.I.G.

WSN: How long have you been spinning?

M: Maybe four years. I started at student clubs when I was getting my bachelor’s in music production.

WSN: What city?

M: Trondheim in Norway, the third biggest city. When I was there, like 160,000 people were living in the city and about 60,000 were students, which gave me the opportunity to play in a lot of clubs and that’s where it started for me.

WSN: Who are your influences?

M: All types of genres! Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox…I have so many. It’s a lot of producers these days because for me, it’s all about the dynamics and harmonics. If the melody and the production are good, I’m into it.

WSN: What does it mean to you when people describe your sound as “tropical house”?

M: I think tropical house is a very big aspect of my sound because it’s so much: you have the bongos, the drums, the percussion, the flutes, the sax. Tropical house can be all different genres if you think about it. I try to adapt myself to all types of different styles, but with the Matoma sound.

WSN: Tell us about your Biggie Remix.

M: I found the a capella on the Internet. When I first heard it, I knew I had to do a remix because it was so good. I hadn’t listened to the original because my influence of Biggie was his first and second album. I didn’t listen so much to his posthumous release, so I hadn’t heard the whole backtrack, but when I heard the a capella I tried to do my best and I put it up on Soundcloud. It went viral after 8 months.

WSN: What is “the Matoma touch”?

M: When I remix a track, I listen to the a capellas and try to do a new harmonic sound and build the melody and the beat around the vocals so it can be played in the clubs.

WSN: Closing remarks?

M: I want to say that my fans and my subscribers and the people that listen to my music are everything to me. My music as it is today is based on the Soundcloud chat and whether people share my tracks. I’m not signed to a big label. I put my music on Soundcloud so people can enjoy it, and I really appreciate everyone that listens to my music and spreads it because without them there would be no Matoma.

E.R. Pulgar is the Music Editor. Email him at epulgar@nyunews.com

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