BeatCrave is excited to bring you Brooklyn duo, Matt and Kim, as part of our Know Your NYC Bands series. If you haven’t heard of these two yet, all you need to know is that indie music got ten shades brighter somewhere in a warehouse because of them. Lilting keyboard riffs (Matt Johnson) and hyperactive drumming (Kim Schifino) have never come together so flawlessly underneath vocals that remind you of a kid running free with chocolate on his face.
Their spanking new album, Grand, is as New York as it gets. Named after their street in Brooklyn, the follow-up album to 2006′s Matt and Kim is nothing less than what the title presents. Released on the same day as the inauguration of our new President, the album exceeds high expectations.
Catch them on tour as they support Grand. Their next show is in Seattle, Washington at Chop Suey on January 29th. (It’ll be Matt’s birthday, too!) The one after that is in Portland, Oregon at Backspace on January 30th. They’re merely two people but they have this insane ability to create massive dance concerts. They also manage to do this with the widest of grins on both of their faces. To see more tour dates, see their MySpace. Until then, check out our exclusive interview with Matt as well as their video, “Daylight,” below!
I noticed that there was a track titled “Grand” on your debut album. Why did you also decide to name this album Grand?
Coming up with an album title is even harder than trying to come up with a band name. It’s really hard. We defaulted on the last one after trying to think of one forever; we just made it self-titled. Since we already used that option, we remembered that we had a bunch of lyrics that talked about Grand Street on the last album. The song, “Grand,” was sort of a pre-cursor to this next recording in a way. It was written in a similar way to this album.
I heard you recorded it sporadically over a duration of nine months. Do you think you’ll want to take that long for the next album?
No; I hope not. So no, I don’t think I want to take that much time ever again. I always say we’ve made exactly the kind of album we wanted to make but I would not do it that way again. Initially, we blocked off 6 weeks of our schedule. (What we did last time was spend nine days recording because that’s all our label could afford at the time. It was very rushed and constantly moving forward.) So since we had more time than we spent on the last one, we thought we would totally get it done. But that meant taking every minute working on that recording, and when the time came and went, we just had not finished yet. I think in a way for the last recording, there was an energy of rushing through it as opposed to not moving on…
What’s your favorite track off of Grand?
That’s hard. They’re like all my babies in their own way. I really like the song “Lessons Learned.” It’s the first time I was able to convince Kim to sing on one of our songs. Kim says, “Don’t Slow Down.” She likes the faster stuff. There’s a lot though, like “Daylight,” “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare…”
Grand came out on Inauguration Day. Did you vote for Obama?
You know! You know I voted for Obama. The day he won – we were in Vermont taking a day off when we were on a tour – I twisted my ankle jumping off a table in excitement. Inauguration Day could have gone either way – a day of excitement or a day of depression – and we were able to get the excitement.
Did you guys ever think of any other names for yourselves besides Matt and Kim?
We wrestled with a ton of names. The closest runner up was The Scream Team. We thought that one was pretty good but we never settled on an actual name. I guess we should have because it’s the first thing people hear even before people hear your music. When we got scheduled for our first show, they just listed us as “Kimberly and Matt” because we didn’t have a name and it just stuck. We never used that as a name, but now it’s just Matt and Kim – and “Matt” is first for purely graphical reasons. Even today, people give me a hard time, asking why Kim didn’t get the first name. We just thought it looked better that way.
Are you guys still in Brooklyn?
We are. We’re still living on Grand Street!
How’s the music scene there treating you after you’ve gone on so many tours?
It’s only different in the sense that when we started playing here, we started playing the free shows and warehouses in Brooklyn. Now, it doesn’t work out because they’re afraid too many people will come and they’re nervous that their space will get shut down. Brooklyn is still definitely one of our favorite places to play ever.
Do you prefer preparing for a tour or coming home from one?
I put them both in an equal category. It’s funny because New York is this weird bubble where people never leave because you can get everything you need here. There’s no reason you have to leave New York City. This is opposed to where I grew up in Vermont – if you were going anywhere you were going an hour and half away. It’s very different, so it’s really nice to break out of the bubble. You get excited about it.
It’s also really great to come home. I think of us coming over the Verrazno bridge or something and remember us just starting to call and text all our friends saying let’s meet up and take the place by storm. It’s just that whenever we’re meeting up with people it’s always the same sentence. We’re always coming or going and people are either saying “Have a good trip” or “Welcome home.”
Which one of your music videos was the most fun to make?
Our video for “Yeah Yeah” was 3.5 minutes of fun then it was 6 more hours of cleaning up after it. We had spent all night on it because we were working on that a lot ourselves by preparing for it, building the set… But I thought shooting this video for “Daylight” was the most fun because we had someone else handling more of it. So we didn’t have to worry. Although Kim would completely disagree; it was her worst nightmare getting into a dumpster. It didn’t have any garbage in it yet and it was filled in with a weird half inch crust all around. I knew she hated that. She also hated getting water thrown in her face when we were in the shower. She’s kind of claustrophobic and she doesn’t like being in little things like closets either. It’s kind of funny because I really enjoyed it.
Did you and Kim smile a lot as babies?
First of all, my parents did not cut my hair since I was born for the first few years of my life. I was this white-haired kid running around in Vermont with no one watching me at all. This was when I was 4 years old roaming the town in the middle of nowhere – like a free dog that’s not on a leash. So yeah, I think I was pretty psyched as a kid! As for Kim (laughs), I saw a drawing she had made as a little kid – her mom had kept it. It said, “Kim is sad,” with a frowning face and tears coming from it. I just thought – Oh my god, this is the saddest thing. So… she was a sad kid but that’s probably why she’s so stoked now.
When was the last time you took a mid-party nap?
It was a couple of times ago in Chicago. Only in Chicago though. We try to hang in there. We try to party but we’re amateur party-ers, I guess.
What’s your new year’s resolution?
I never actually decided on one so I don’t have one. Maybe I should decide on one! Kim says, “To get health insurance.” True success… aka health insurance! That’s what we want.
Besides any of your own, what’s always a good dance party song?
During our last tour – when we finished our last show, we would have Usher’s “Love in This Club” song play at the end. We would just be like “Come on…” and jump down to the crowd and just dance with everyone. We’d end every show like that. People just can’t deny “Love in This Club.” They just CAN’T deny it.
Tell us one thing about yourself we probably don’t already know.
Well, in physical means, my toes are really big – just my big toe compared to the rest of my toes though. I tried to get in to flip flops for a while because my feet get so hot but my big toe! It always hangs over. It’s a toe to be reckoned with. You don’t screw with that toe, but I hear it makes you a good runner.
Photography by Tod Seelie