Matoma Goes Green With One In A Million Tour

Matoma Goes Green With One In A Million Tour

We spoke to the DJ-turned-philanthropist on everything new music, Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac, and his first-ever climate-positive tour.

We spoke to the DJ-turned-philanthropist on everything new music, Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac, and his first-ever climate-positive tour.

Text: Cara Hessels

Is it odd to say you're proud of someone you've only met in a short string of interviews over the years? Somehow, that's how I feel about Matoma. Once just known for his smash single "Old Thing Back", the Norwegian producer is currently one of Spotify’s most streamed artists, collaborating with the likes of Noah Cyrus, The Vamps, and more. Now, the internationally loved DJ is adding a new title to his resume: philanthropist.

When approaching his One In A Million Tour, the musician knew he wanted to do things differently. “I'm not proud of how much I travel," he notes. "I sit on planes 200 days a year. It's my job, I have to do it, but at the same time, it's not something I'm proud of." With his carbon footprint in mind, Matoma (known to friends as Tom) decided to join the the Climate Neutral Now initiative of UN Climate Change in an effort to make his tour both climate neutral as well as climate positive. To do this, the DJ and his crew will aim to reduce their greenhouse emissions on the road as much as possible, while overcompensating for the unavoidable emissions by using United Nations-certified credits. Additionally, he has collaborated with Norwegian company Chooose to further raise awareness around climate action.

We sat down with the musician on a mission before his show at New York City’s Terminal 5 to talk about his upcoming album, dream collaborations (hint: he’s a fresh prince), and his eco-friendly tour.

Since we last spoke at Panorama, you’ve been traveling all over the globe. What has been going on the past couple of months?

I’ve been working on finishing my album. I really want my music to take me to the next level, and I’ve been really motivated and inspired to do new types of sounds, just evolving as an artist and as a producer. I tried to learn new ways of recording and making music, and I’m super pumped about releasing this album, One in a Million, that’s coming out sometime around this spring.

That’s exciting. So when you say you want to take music to a new level, how do you define the ‘new level’? What does that look like for you?

It's a new way for me to show the people that listen to my music who I am. I feel like the music I made before has given people a chance to experience Tom, and to experience me as an artist, but I want this album to let them fully understand who I am.

I feel like a lot of people don’t know that you actually have a classical music background. Are you bringing that into your new music?

Both yes and no; not that much classical music, but there’s swing or piano in those productions. Also, I feel that the melodies are more Nordic and more me, so I’m beyond excited about this album. I’ve been working on it for three years, but finally, in the last eight months, I feel that I’ve made huge progress.

That’s very exciting, congratulations! Has your live show evolved at all?

I always love playing the piano. I just feel when I play festivals, people are there for the festivals, and of course you have people that [have] heard about you or even listened to you, but not on the scale of when you do your own tour with your own production. I think it’s a mixture between just delivering to everyone and also to evolve myself as an artist and a musician. I’m really happy to be a DJ, but also, I feel that I’m a good enough musician on the keys to play those live too. I try to implement a little live element into my set, not just having a few drum sticks and smashing those on drums, I don’t feel like that adds much, but to actually bring the instrument that I’ve played since I was seven years old. 

Yeah, something you’re really comfortable with and feels like home in a way. So you said you got a little emotional at your show in Boston, how do you anticipate Terminal 5 going down?

New York is probably the biggest city, or even maybe the biggest area, that listens to my music. Since "Old Thing Back", they have loved me, and I have never had a show here that I’ve been disappointed about. So of course, when I come here, I have a lot of nerves and anxiety because I really want to deliver, and I feel the people that come to my show deserves a performance that is worthy to them. And Terminal 5 is such a venue. The acoustics here, it’s just so good. I feel like my professional skills as an artist have evolved so much the last year, and also the production and everything around the whole brand, so I think people will have a good time tonight, hopefully.

I’m sure they will. So you said that you have a lot of anxiety leading up to the show. What do you do to get yourself in the zone before you go on for a big night like this?

Talking with people.

How so?

It helps because people sometimes forget that I’m just a person. They have an affection for me or they are here to work on the show, maybe they work in the music industry and they're backstage and they come up to me and just want to talk about me and my life. I’m as much a part of this room, this environment, as them. I want to hear their stories too. I really like just getting to know people.

You’ve been working with so many artists recently, The Vamps, Noah Cyrus. Who else would you want to work with?

Will Smith. He’s on my bucket list.

Always an incredible answer. What other up-and-coming acts are you admiring right now?

I really like Josh Record. He has an emotional pop sound to him and his voice is just incredible. I also like Tom Walker from the UK. His music is just... holy moly. It’s just incredible.

You can relate to that — emotional music.

Yeah, I played the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, and that’s probably one of my biggest achievements in my career. Right before I went on stage, I threw up backstage I was so nervous. Luckily it was incredible. We played with a 70-piece orchestra.

When you’re choosing artists to work with, do you find yourself gravitating to a certain sound more than other?

No. I really love just messing around with different genres and I think that’s maybe one of the reasons why I managed to stick in this industry for so long. There were so many [artists] at that time, four years ago, making tropical house, and they had a great career ahead but that sound changed. [Fans] expected more, and they just fell off the wheel because they didn’t have the inspiration to take them further. For example, with "False Alarm", there’s a really emotional chords element in it, and it feels like a very emotional pop record, and you have the synths that make it very uplifting, same with "All Night". How the song progresses makes it more of a future bass record meeting pop.  I like to experiment with sounds. I always like to go outside my comfort zone and make music that I listen to and that I’m inspired by. I never go and say, “Oh, I want to make a song that sounds like The Chainsmokers," or "I want to make a song that sounds like Martin Garrix," then you lose. Then you’re just one of the same. I just try to be very creative.

You mentioned that you have evolved so much as a musician in the last year alone. Where do you see yourself in a year from now?

That’s hard to tell.

Do you have a goal?

I always have a goal. It’s always learning more because knowledge is everything. You can never be fully learned and there’s always ways you can improve yourself as a human being. This year, I’ve done more charity work.

May I ask what charities?

The Red Cross. I’m also doing more eco-friendly stuff. This entire tour is climate neutral. We teamed up with United Nations and [Chooose] a company that has expertise in calculating a person's [greenhouse gas emissions]. We send in all our flights, our truck routes, a list of the crew, how much the equipment weighs, and they calculate how much of a carbon footprint we would make on this tour, and then we donate that amount to charity. Then, $1 from every ticket sold in the U.S. will be donated to the American Red Cross.  

That's incredible! I don’t think people know enough about this.

Instead of using bright lights on stage, we're using LED screens that use less power. So far, we've raised over $100,000 in total for different charities.

Amazing, good for you. A few quick, fire-round questions: LA or NYC?

Can I say a mixture, Chicago?

Sure, Chicago. Biggie or Tupac?


The beach or the mountains?

The mountains.

Whiskey or weed?

I don’t like either. I like Hennessy. Hennessy and Moonshine.

Hennessy and Moonshine, I would not have guessed that. Moonshine big in Norway?

No, it’s not that big, but I’m from a small town. It’s a lumber town with a thousand people. I mean, we grew up on that shit. 

Credits: Photos by Andrew Sokolow


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