Matt and Kim are the type of group that hold nothings back — even in the most arduous of circumstances
The last two times I saw the Brooklyn-based duo in concert, freak accidents could’ve and should’ve prevented this from happening.
In January of 2013, Matt and Kim were set to play the Radio 104.5 Winter Jam. Unfortunately due to an accident involving texting and a flight of stairs, Kim hurt her ankle and wasn’t able to play the drums. But, that didn’t stop the duo from playing an awesome DJ set, tearing down the house in near subzero temperatures in Philadelphia.
The next month, while on tour with Passion Pit, the duo played Madison Square Garden during a freak blizzard in New York City. The snow was so bad that most public transportation was suspended, preventing many ticket holders from attending. Most bands would’ve mailed it in for the less-than-packed arena, but Matt & Kim left everything on the stage for their fans that night, delivering an electrifying set.
Yet, there is one thing the duo has held back for years — actually putting their relationship into one of their songs.
Now, with their fifth record, New Glow, Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino are putting their love story into their art — in the most Matt & Kim way possible — in an honest, passionate and as un-cheesy possible.
Recently, I sat down with Matt about their new album, relationships secrets, and getting ready for each performance.
The Internet has basically named Kim and yourself the perfect couple. You’re fun, energetic, and look constantly happy. I’m sure there are couples that have been in long-term relationships that want to know your secret. How do you guys keep things exciting?
First of all, I think it’s sort of amazing that we work together and spend every waking moment with each other. On paper we should have killed each other, never mind how well we get along. It makes no sense in reality. There’s an old saying that you don’t dip your pen in the company ink. Well, I’ve been dipping my pen in there for many, many years [laughs] and it still keeps working. If I had any other relationship we would have killed each other. It would have not worked this way. So I wish I had a secret. I would suggest, to everyone, to work and spend every second of the everyday with your partner, but on the other hand I know bands that go on tour and leave their significant other at home and that makes things really difficult for the relationship. Maybe we just need to be observed by some sort of psychological whatever and they can do a study, but from the inside I have no idea how it works.
Usually there isn’t a long wait for a new Matt and Kim record, yet there was a three-year gap between Lighting and New Glow. Did it take longer to come up with new ideas for the record? Were you burnt out from touring or a little bit of both?
Well it’s weird. I love writing songs, and it’s funny because, partially within all the years I’ve been doing the band as my only profession, there becomes less time to write songs because you are on the road a lot and whatnot. The last couple years we played a lot of festivals and a lot of shows, and we were out there. We love playing shows as well. The two almost have nothing to do with each other because there’s writing songs and playing shows. I like that there is both sides. Sometimes time will start passing you by and you’re like “Oh my gosh, it’s been two years already. We need to get to work!” So I guess this is our longest spacing between two albums, Lighting and now New Glow, but the other thing was we didn’t go with a consolidated time of “let’s make an album.” We started in December 2013 with, “Let’s make a song.” We just kept going on with making individual songs. We thought maybe we wouldn’t make an entire album. We will work on 2014 on a song-by-song basis. But then we had this collection of songs so we worked on it longer than we have on any other recording, but we were doing shows at the same time.
Does New Glow have a specific theme throughout or any particular source of inspiration?
The beauty of it is that it wasn’t stuck to one idea and we worked with a number of different producers. Part of my intention was I wanted to play it more similar like a Spotify playlist with all your different bands you like in it, rather than it all just sounding like the same song again and again. I feel like we needed a certain diversity that we do on stage as well, the music style and what not, that I think makes every song interesting itself. That’s what I hope. The one thing is that there are certain topics that we have never touched before. We have never written any sort of relationship song; meaning anything that addressed that Kim and I are in a relationship. We didn’t want to do a Sunny and Cher thing. We didn’t want to be singing a love song to each other. Enough people were doing that. But then we realized that it was almost like being a lie to never bring it up. Leaving out a big part of our lives. So we made a song like “Hey Now” with the “I’d die right by your side line” we were able to address that in a very Matt & Kim way.
How long did it take to film the video Hey Now? It looks like it was shot all in one take.
We actually did a handful of takes, and in very Matt and Kim fashion had no permit to shoot in that location. We were doing the last take and that’s right when the security force showed up and we scattered out of there. Luckily, we had everything we needed. It was also really cold. It might be hard to tell, but if you do look close you can see our breath. It was February when we shot it. Kim will say her feet were turning into blocks of ice. Trying to dance like that was really hard. I think we did it maybe four times, but I don’t think we could have done it again for security and freezing to death reasons.
You guys have a knack for filming videos in the cold.
I know! Why won’t we do something when it’s warm?
You put on such high energy live shows that they feel more like a party than a concert. Do you have any pre show rituals to get you pumped up? What songs are on your get psyched mix?
I try to get a couple of things in, but I am usually warming up my voice in a typical way because I loose my voice pretty bad. But Kim is fully deep in to the pre-show dance backstage rituals. It’s exactly what you would think Kim would be doing. She has ear buds in playing so loud that the rest of the room can hear them, and she is like doing all this sort of booty dancing that she does on stage. That’s just how she gets excited. There’s a lot of hip-hop in there from Meek Mill to Big Sean. Of course she has plenty of Beyoncé on the playlist as well. Then it will go into some Jay Z & Kanye West, Watch the Throne. Sometimes it’s funny because she will have her headphones in and the rest of the backstage will be quite and people are preparing for the show coming up and she will shout random lines at the top of her lungs in the middle of like a hard hitting hip-hop song. It should be documented at some point.
You should at least make a documentary dedicated to Kim’s booty dancing.
There’s plenty of material to fill up a feature length on that.
ORDER MATT AND KIM’S NEW GLOW HERE.
Al Mannarino is the managing editor for Pop-Break. He is also host of the News Over Brews Podcast, Loot Care Unboxed, Backstage Break, and the producer of Behind the Brews. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History and is currently a Promotions Assistant for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino