Matoma: Rytme Of The Night

Norwegian DJ and producer, Matoma explains how he reimagined Earth Wind & Fire’s iconic anthem, September for his 2020 EP, Rytme.

This time last year, Matoma was touring the globe while continuing to unleash a steady stream of new music. Currently “chilling” at home in Norway, the DJ and producer (real name Tom Lagergren) finds himself in a very different position in 2020 – although he’s grateful for the break in his normally relentless schedule:

“In some ways it's good for me because I have had about eight weeks off in the last seven or eight years, so I really felt like I needed it after this amazing tour – although I am still producing music every day. Even though the current situation is such a tragedy and a lot of people have lost their loved ones, it has given me a new perspective on life, because it's so easy to get caught up in your own little bubble. People are so consumed with pursuing success, a career, an apartment or a house in the city, or getting a vacation home.

"All that time goes into making money to buy that, and now it's all about the connection between people. I find it beautiful that people are the main thing that people are missing. It's not driving or flying somewhere – it's the simple things like going to the pub and having a beer with your friends, or having a barbecue and seeing your family members.”

Matoma was a music-oriented kid, learning to play classical piano, and then moving on to producing music on a laptop in his bedroom. After a stint in the military, he went to University in Norway where he became a resident DJ, earned his bachelor’s degree in music production – and assumed he would become a music teacher. However after his remixes on Soundcloud began to attract an army of listeners, he wanted to see where following that path would lead:

“Remixing was a really good opportunity to show people my skills,” he says. “I did that for fun, and my Soundcloud profile started growing. I got really inspired and kept going.”

His 2015 Midnight Sun tour of the United States was largely sold-out and met with a rapturous reception, shortly followed by the RIAA gold certified single, Old Thing Back by Matoma & The Notorious B.I.G. Feat. Ja Rule & Ralph Tresvant.

Since then, Matoma has busied himself by making waves with his own music, alongside cross-genre collaborations with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo, Dua Lipa, and The Vamps, as well an array of remixes for Coldplay, One Direction, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Sean Paul, among others.

“My career has been quite non stop,” he acknowledges. “I've non-stop released music for seven years and I’ve released something close to 60 records, but have only put one album!”

The album in question, One In A Million includes a quartet of worldwide hit singles, including False Alarm (Feat. Becky Hill), Lonely (Feat. MAX), Slow (Feat. Noah Cyrus) and All Night (Feat. The Vamps) – all of which have now amassed close to a billion total streams.

Matoma vividly remembers the first time he heard False Alarm:

“I just remember listening to Becky Hill’s voice. I started crying because I was like, ‘wow, this is really, really special. Holy moly!’ She just opened up her voice, and I was pulled into the song. I wanted to put my touch on it – the Matoma flavour!”

Transfixed by the song and feeling inspired, what followed was an intense day tweaking the track:

“The first demo that I did for this was done in a day,” he recalls. “I felt like I was hypnotised by the record! Suddenly, it had been 24 hours, and I hadn't eaten or slept; I was just constantly working. We knew that this was special, and when I met Becky I knew that she was something special because she was so kind and so nice. She has worked so hard to get to the level where she is today.

“The music industry is strange in many ways, because just take Billie Eilish: you didn't know who she was not so long ago,” he points out. “Then in half a year, she was everywhere. When the industry decides they have a person they want to root for, the sky's the limit!”

Recent single release, The Bender sees Matoma team up with singer/songwriter Brando – reimagining Earth Wind & Fire’s iconic anthem, September. The song is the first track to come from Matoma’s eagerly anticipated new EP, Rytme – meaning ‘rhythm’ in Norwegian.

“I’m a huge fan of Earth Wind & Fire, and I was trying to schedule a session with Brando for quite some time because I had heard that he was a very talented songwriter, and I just wanted to work with him.”

They met up in LA, and Brando asked Matoma if he had any stand-out musical memories from his younger years, or any concerts that had blown him away:

“I specifically remember one concert,” he recalls. “It was Earth Wind & Fire at the Nobel peace prize concert in Norway. I remember thinking, ‘holy shit, this is so great!’ Brando’s dad knows one of the band members so we reached out to them and asked for their blessing, and that was it!”