INTERVIEW: Matt and Kim

Fresh from playing Austin’s mega festival South by South West, Alex Yau chats to Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim...

Posted on Mar 30th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Matt and Kim / By Alex Yau
Matt and Kim How was SXSW?

It was a wild time. We were there for the entire week which is a lot longer than we’ve been in the past, but we had a few awesome shows and late nights. I think it’s what SXSW should be.

Aside from playing it, did you guys do anything crazy or interesting whilst there?

We were busy. Most of the time we were at our shows, hanging out later or doing a DJ set afterwards. There was one night we did this MTVU Awards show called the Woodies. We ended up winning best performance and it ended up being a really good night. Afterwards we were in the hotel lobby at 3am and Dave Grohl walks up to Kim and I and gives us a big hug saying: “It’s great to meet two people who love playing music as much as I do.” We never met him before and he didn’t have to do that.

Would you say Dave Grohl is the most famous musician you’ve met?

Yes probably. We went over to Rick Rubin’s house once. As a person who’s produced so many great songs in so many genres, he was one of the people I was the most in awe of.

It’s festival season soon too. SXSW is an American festival, how would you compare this to some of the British festivals you’ve done before, or even the shows?

As much as someone may think both worlds are the same via the internet and what not, it becomes clear that it’s very different. We’ve done a lot of ground work in the US whereas we’ve not done as much in the UK. We still feel all the same energy as when we were starting in the US. It’s nice to have the challenge to give it your all and help make things cool.

With the release of Sidewalks, a lot of people have described it as having a much more produced sound compared to Grand or Matt and Kim. Was this a conscious effort?

Not in a way. Grand was literally recorded in my childhood bedroom where I grew up in Vermont. Kim and I tried recording it and figuring out what we were doing, whilst Sidewalks was recorded in a couple of different studios. Our intentions were very similar to make music we wanted to hear. Working in the studio we had people who knew what they were doing. We could concentrate on writing the songs rather than how to make the snare drum sound like a snare drum.

How would you react to this description by people whether they mean it in a positive or negative fashion?

It’s funny because it seemed like an easy step for Matt and Kim. I remember people saying that they’d like the album but it was so different. For me it didn’t sound so different, it was just the next step. In the end, the response we’ve gotten in the States is more than what I could have asked for. From what I’ve read on Twitter and Facebook, people have been saying that it’s their favourite album, and the idea of having written someone’s favourite album out of all those out there is a mind blowing concept to me. Given the chart positions we’ve reached in the states, it’ll be interesting to see how we do in this side of the pond.

With Grand, you also had a lot of time to make it compared to your debut. Was it the same case with Sidewalks?

Our first album was recorded in a week and Grand/Sidewalks took us the same time, which was nine months. I’m no doctor but that’s how long it takes to have a baby. They took a lot of time to develop. With both of them we thought it would only take a couple of months but we realised we could keep going with them and making them better and better. I feel there’s no reason to put something out you think is not good enough, or even good. You have to feel it’s the best thing because other than that, why bother?

There’s also more club beats, pop moments and disco influences on Sidewalks. What influenced you to put these new elements on your latest album?

We’re intrigued by music in several different genres. Kim and I love hip hop, dance, pop punk. There are different things and we wanted to make something that was a mosaic where you could hear these different influences. We didn’t narrow ourselves in a way where you only make sense with rock music or dance, Kim and I have toured with DJ’s and rock bands and it’s basically when someone wants to go out have fun is where our album makes sense.

The titles “Grand” and “Sidewalks” are very strong ideas of New York themselves. Did you deliberately do this?

I think it’s partially due to the fact that Kim and I have spent so much time out of New York, we only spend 3 or 4 months there because we’re on tour so much. The idea of thinking about home is weird because we write in this stream of thought which just kept coming up thematically.

Can we expect any new styles on your next album?

I love things that are less. I’m trying to make it as minimal yet energetic as it can be. There’s potency to the simplest forms of ideas yet people respond to them. This comes out with our music videos. I remember Seinfeld being described as a show where nothing happens. This is what I want with the album.

You also worked with ZYNC to fight homelessness. Can you tell us why you chose this particular charity?

It’s something we see in different places. The idea of youth homelessness too is one which is interesting because a lot of that time it is caused by choices coming back to bite you. I know I didn’t make the right choices all the time but I know others have made worse choices than I have. It’s a cycle that spirals and if you break that spiral early, you can go back to the way you were living.

For the video to ‘Lessons Learned’, you also stripped in Times Square. Do you have any other interesting ideas for future videos?

We do have a plan. I don’t want to give it away but I have a feeling it can be followed up with a little jail time. In a way we’re trying to capture the energy of the music. I think it’ll feel right. I don’t think anyone will be confused, it’ll make sense.

How’re you finding London?

We only got in 10.30 last night and by 10.55, we went to this restaurant which we were begging to stay open. We did get some great indian food which I know London is great for. This evening we have off, I’m not sure what we’re going to get into, but hopefully we’ll find something.

Check out the brilliantly brutal video for 'Cameras' here.