Hakuna Matata? No, Hakuna MATOMA. The Norwegian DJ/producer brings a unique urban vibe to his trop house productions. His remixes and bootlegs started gaining lots of support on Soundcloud. The remix of “Old Thing Back” by Notorious B.I.G. topped the Hype Machine chart and led to a bidding war amongst the record labels and a top 10 pop hit across Europe. Follow up singles with artists like Akon, Madcon, Nico & Vinz, and Sean Paul and a buzzworthy performance at Coachella have helped him build a massive fanbase. Watch for Matoma as he flies the “Party At Your Place” flag at events all around the world.
RS: Starting at the beginning, where did your name come from?
Matoma: My real name Tom or Matoma, just kidding. The name Matoma started when I was at an after party with my brother. We had been to a concert and invited a lot of friends to the after party and had a feast there. We were all drinking and when my brother drinks he tells the truth. He came up to me and said he had to tell me something and said that my name was shit. It started an argument because I didn’t agree with what he was saying. One of my friends that heard the whole conversation got between my brother and I and asked us if we could just take life easier and live more like hakuna matata from the movie Lion King. My brother wanted to back phrase that but he said it wrong because he was tipsy. He said “hakuna matoma” and I was like oh snap, and thought it was really cool.
RS: So you and Kygo are both from Norway, why do you think that the best trop house producers are coming from Norway?
Matoma: I am not sure. I think that his music is more pop and tropical than mine. I have a lot of urban, R&B and reggae flavor to my songs. Of course I have the tropical elements in there too but it’s much more urban than his sounds. I really don’t know why Norway has put out all this tropical music because Norway is really cold and we have mountains and fjords.
RS: You started out playing piano. How did you go from piano to producing dance music?
Matoma: When I was 16 years old I was a little tired of playing the piano and classical music. I had a summer job where I mowed the lawn for old people and I saved up all my money and bought myself a laptop. That was when I started producing. It didn’t become serious until I applied for music school after I went to the military. I really started getting into the production side after school.
RS: Fast forwarding a bit, how did it feel when Ja Rule tweeted that he liked your mix of “Old Thing Back”?
Matoma: That was a big milestone in my career. My brother hit up Ja Rule every day on Twitter for a month and then finally Ja Rule tweeted back that he really liked it. We were so stoked and a few months later Atlantic Records signed the record. From there it has been a great journey and I am really happy to be a part of all the love right now in my career. It’s amazing!
RS: How did you meet up with Becky Hill?
Matoma: My manager heard a demo of her voice and he really loved it, he showed it to me and I fell in love with her voice too. I wanted to produce on that one - so we got an acapella and I produced it and everyone fell in love with “False Alarm.” We recorded it in LA and released it in June. Becky is a really good friends with KStewart who sang on the “Paradise” track with Sean Paul and so she had been listening to my stuff and liked it.
RS: Very nice. You are on tour right now and it is called Party At Your Place. Where did that idea come from?
Matoma: I had the idea of traveling around the states playing at college shows, college towns, and places that I had played before and having a party and just inviting people out to my shows to party with me. That is where the concept came from.
RS: Love it. Now what is the story behind the Party At Your Place flag?
Matoma: It is just a token of my love to the fans, I want them to have a memory from the night.
RS: I am guessing Coachella was a memorable night for you?
Matoma: Yeah, it was a milestone in my career, it was insane. Just to have Ja Rule, Akon, Sean Paul, Nico & Vinz and Madcon come out on stage and give their support was incredible. We worked really hard to get that through and managed to get it and it was such a historical moment in my career.
RS: I saw on your Instagram that your dream is to hit the bullseye, what is the bullseye to you?
Matoma: The bullseye is to just to be able to make music and get recognition from people that love my music. I remember three years ago when my friend threw a dart right in the bullseye and my career just skyrocketed after that. It is crazy that he actually hit the bullseye, he said “Tom if I hit it in the bullseye you will make it in the music industry.”
RS: Wow. You are from Norway and I saw that you met the prince of Norway. How important is the royal family over there?
Matoma: The royal family is the main mascot for our country. We have a monarchy and they represent the country in the best way and travel around the world meeting presidents and other royal families and make connections for our country. I am really proud to be a Norwegian and have them represent our country. It was a big deal and the prince loves my music which is amazing.
RS: Traveling around the US is there any Norwegian food that you miss eating?
Matoma: Yeah there is a meatball that we make in Norway that no one else makes, I miss that and also miss healthy food and the high quality.
RS: I see you wear a lot of Adidas, are you a big fan of Adidas?
Matoma: I am a big fan of Adidas, Nike, and Stussy. I just wear the stuff that I am comfortable wearing and that I have been wearing my whole life. I have been wearing Adidas since I was a kid. I am not sponsored by them by any means but I think it’s a cool brand.
RS: When they make the movie of your life, what actor will play you?
Matoma: The Rock.
RS: You have the same chest he does, that’s what it is, the muscles! If you were a furry what animal would you be?
Matoma: A possum
RS: I love it! Why do all DJs wear black?
Matoma: I don’t wear black all the time but sometimes when you have a big production and a really big show you want to blend and black is the neutral color that fits well.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Matoma: Just keep spreading the love and keep listening to my music because without you guys there would be no Matoma. I see all the messages that people are sending me on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat and it really means a lot.
Interview conducted October 2016.