In a short time, the 23-year-old artist and producer Tom Stræte Lagergren, operating under the Matoma moniker, has built up a solid following on Soundcloud and Youtube. Since he started uploading remixes less than six months ago, he has racked up more than 10 million plays.
When he began to listen to music actively, his older brother’s music taste became a key inspirational source. Through the years spent studying at his local cultural school, Lagergren was also exposed to classical music repertoire.
– I was introduced to electronic music in late elementary school when my brother started listen to acts like Paul van Dyk, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren. It was really melodic, which I liked. I didn’t get into producing electronic music before high school. Prior to that I was more into pure piano playing – Rhapsody in Rock by Robert Wells, hip-hop lines, stuff like that.
Nothing without his fans
Initially, Lagergren didn’t follow any strategy for building an on-line following.
– It just said boom when my remix of Want That Old Thing Back took off, says Lagergren. – After that, I introduced a requirement that users have to like my Facebook-page before they can access the tracks that are available for download. Now that I have reached a high level of followers, I feel that they deserve to get frequent updates from me. Without fans that listen to and like my music, I’m nothing. It means a lot to me that other appreciate the music that I create.
– How did the Enrique Iglesias team reach out to you?
– I don’t really know how they found me in the first place, but eventually an A&R agent linked to Enrique’s label contacted me. We exchanged e-mails back and forth before the actual remix-process started. I completed the track in a matter of days, but it took nearly two months to release it. Lots of paper work…
– Lately, music industry execs at home and abroad have started to trail their scopes at you. What is important for you in terms of selecting professional partners?
– A primary concern is that my freedom to make the music I want is respected and safeguarded. I cannot compose music on the fly, it kind of ebbs and flows from my soul and down onto the keyboard – that sensation is worth much more than financial reward. On a side note, it’s also fun to see that the music industry finds my music so interesting that contact is made.
Guided by tutors
Lagergren recently finished his Bachelor level studies at Trondheim’s NTNU University’s Music Technolgy Programme. He relates that this has helped him to prepare for the next step in his career as a professional artist.
– I was lucky to be enrolled with a number of really skilled students that would share experiences, tips and tricks. We also had access to several first-class studios equipped with stuff that I could only dream of having in my own studio. The teachers were into all kinds of music and we could partake in workshops with studio producers – all this resulted in me acquiring solid skills. Parallel to this, I would spend countless hours at home in my on little studio set-up, practicing my new skills and learn how to do a mix properly.
– What inspires you and what Norwegian producers and artists would you highlight?
– Nature inspires me – the release of positive emotions. Vocals that have that little extra touch to them, such as the lines in Happy Home. There are so many acts that inspire me. One of the Norwegian ones that I want to highlight is Finnebassen. He operates in a slightly different genre, but masters it so well.
Matoma is represented by US-based booking firm APA which represents major acts such as Dolly Parton, Flo Rida and Run DMC. A headlining tour of Canada and the US is the next milestone for Matona.
– I’ll be doing more live appearances in Norway over the coming months. I’ll release new music and I’m working towards getting a visa so that I can work in the US. When the paperwork is done, I’ll head out on a North American tour with my APA partners. At the same time, my team is preparing a small European tour. I have a really positive outlook for the next six months. My dream has always been to make a living of my music – now I’m living that dream!