Q&A: Matoma talks good vibes, personal journey

Matoma, a Norwegian DJ, stormed onto the scene just three years ago but has already risen to stardom. Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor
Matoma, a Norwegian DJ, stormed onto the scene just three years ago but has already risen to stardom. Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: Sept. 21, 2016 at 8:22 p.m.

Tom Lagergren, better known as Matoma, is a breakout Norwegian DJ and producer that has gone from zero to DJ fame.

Although his career officially took off in 2013 with his remix of “Old Thing Back” by the Notorious B.I.G., Matoma has had numerous hits over the past three years, like “Running Out,” “Stick Around” and “Paradise.”

Matoma has worked with the likes of Sean Paul, Jason Derulo, Madeon, Astrid S. and Becky Hill during his short career — success he attributes to his record label, Atlantic Records.

We sat down with him before his show at the A.I. this past Saturday.

You started your career by remixing other songs, such as your cover of “Old Thing Back” by the Notorious B.I.G. What inspired you to start creating your own songs, and why have you moved on from remixes?
Matoma: I saw remixing as an opportunity for me to show my talent as a producer because I didn’t know any songwriters or any people in the industry. To find a cappellas on the Internet was a good way for me to display my skills. So after building a roster of remixed songs and DJing, the opportunity came for me to sign on with a big label.

Personally, I think I signed on with the best record in the world, Atlantic Records. They are really talented and they take care of their artists. They have given me so many opportunities, such as “Running Out,” “False Alarm,” “Stick Around,” “Try Me” with Jason Derulo.

Speaking of, how do you get so many high profile artists to collaborate with you?
M: People in the music industry today, they listen to songs and the talent behind the songs. I don’t think the name is as important as it was ten years ago. I was with my manager, who is a beast, and we got my name on the records – that really boosted my career.

Which collaboration is your personal favorite?
M: I have to say “Stick Around,” “Paradise” and “False Alarm.” All my songs have a journey and a history behind them, so all my songs are as important. There are a few songs that stick out though, like “Waves” with Madeon and “Everything is Nice” with Popcaan.

What do you think it is about your music that grabs people?
M: I think it’s all about the good vibes and emotions in the song that you can really hear that there’s more behind it than the regular pop record. You can really feel it. For me, when I produce a song I just want people, when they listen to it for the first time, to have a good experience and want to listen to it again — listen to it closer, hear more of the hidden elements in the song.

I want to talk a little bit more about your album, “Hakuna Matoma.” Where did the name come from?
M: The name came from where I got my artist name in the first place. It was my brother who came up with Matoma. It was off the Calvin Harris concert in Flisa, the place where we live, and my brother said to me, “Tom, you need to change your name because it’s terrible!”

So we started the discussion, and the discussion got more and more heated. So it went between me and Dan, and he said, “Can’t you take life easy? ‘Hakuna matata!’” from “The Lion King.”

And my brother he wanted to back phrase that, and he came up with Hakuna Matoma.

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