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Matt & Kim Talk Pre-Show Rituals, ’90s R&B/Hip-Hop Influences + ‘Booty Shaking’

Matt and Kim
Jonathan Mannion

When you hear Matt & Kim tracks, you just want to dance and shake your booty, which is exactly how Kim Schifino gets in the mindset before a gig. The indie-pop duo may have finished up a tour with Passion Pit and Icona Pop, as well as gigs at SXSW and Ultra, but they still have a slew of festival gigs and one-off concerts in the queue, including a huge vitaminwater® concert on April 3.

Matt Johnson took some time out of his busy schedule — while noshing on lunch — to talk about their fourth studio album ‘Lightening,’ pre-show rituals, and the dance-in-your-sleep video ‘It’s Alright.’ Oh, and we may… just may, have inspired them to incorporate a ’90s R&B jam into their upcoming set list.

Check out our interview below (part two is featured on Diffuser.fm), and be sure to watch Matt & Kim perform live at 9PM ET on Wednesday, April 3 over on FUSE. The duo will be joining B.o.B, Santigold and Yung Skeeter in Boring, Ore. for a concert hosted by vitaminwater®!

You guys recorded ‘Lightening’ in Brooklyn, which was a change. Was being on your home turf helpful? Did it inspire you more?
I think it definitely helped, because other places we’ve gone, it’s sort of isolated, so… we made an album in L.A., we made an album in Atlanta, Ga, we made an album in Vermont. You sort of get tunnel vision because you wake up every day just to work on music, before going to bed and whatnot, and I feel working in New York we were able to work during the day and still out out here at night and it kept more of a balance, more of a human quality where you don’t feel like “Oh, I’m just on some deserted island.”

We love writing songs and making music, but then it’s like you love chocolate and vanilla ice cream but you can’t eat it three meals a day for three months straight.

The low-register reverb sound you created in ‘I Said,’ it reminds us of ’90s R&B, namely ‘Pony‘ by Ginuwine. What was the inspiration behind the sound of that track?
I don’t know if consciously that idea [came to me], but I could see it seeping into my subconcious. Definitely a song like ‘Pony.’ Kim and I actually learned how to play ‘Pony.’ If you’ve seen us on stage we kind of do is… connect a bunch of old hip-hop songs and dance songs into other songs. I think, due to what you said right there, we’re going to, we haven’t even played ‘I Said’ live yet, but when we learn it live, we’ve been looking for the right song, we’ve been looking for the right song to fit ‘Pony’ into. So if you hear us someday play ‘I Said,’ and then ‘Pony’ in the middle…

Then I’ll know it was our suggestion!
Right.

Watch the ‘I Said’ Lyric Video

You guys give off very energetic live shows — Kim’s crowd surfing, you guys are rocking out and dancing. How do you prep for them mentally and physically, like for example, the vitaminwater® campaign next week in Boring, Ore.?
As far as the background Kim and I come from — as non-trained musicians — it takes a lot of practice. You have to remember how to play songs and stuff like that, but luckily we’re coming off of six weeks on the road, so we seemed kind of brushed up… But in typical Kim fashion, her preparedness, her pre-show ritual will involve dancing and shaking her a– in the back stage room for the half-an-hour beforehand. It’s really her warm-up. Her drumming involves no practice pads, no nothing, just involves plenty of Big Sean, Beyonce, T.I., Ne-Yo [Laughs].

Kim really knows how to shake her booty. Seriously, we’re impressed.
As opposed to myself who came from… I got into music when I started a punk rock band… that’s how I started playing music, when I was younger and as a teenager. Kim’s brother [however], was a rave DJ her whole teenage years. She was sneaking out to raves and dancing ’till the sun came up on a regular basis. So she has some natural dancing skills, as opposed to me.

What are your pre-show rituals? What are you listening to before you go on stage?
Well, I have singing, just warm-ups… I’m not a natural singer. It’s tough. Singing’s really hard. And speaking of Pearl Jam, I remember thinking back in the day, “Man that Eddie Vedder’s got it so easy, he doesn’t have to play an instrument, he just has to sing,” and then I came to realize that singing is like the hardest thing in the world and writing lyrics is probably the second hardest thing, so… props to all the singers out there. But, then I’ll maybe put on some track stuff for about five minutes before I go on stage.

We made a music video called ‘It’s Alright’ where we’re choreographed dancing while lying in the bed. And that was a challenge for me, for sure.

So, what inspired the video treatment for ‘It’s Alright,’ and were you influenced by other videos of that caliber?
Well, when I thought of the idea I was nervous that something very similar… maybe someone’s done this; I spent a lot of time searching just to make sure there’s no one that has the exact same video. I did see a stop motion video done by someone, in a bed from overhead…

Possibly ‘My Morning Elegance‘?
Yeah, and others.

Me and the co-director [Jacob Lincoln] both agreed that we didn’t want the filmmaking to get in the way of what’s happening. I wanted it to be more about what me and Kim are doing instead. So we hired a choreographer, Tanisha Scott, who has done all this booty-shaking stuff, like all the Sean Paul videos and even some Beyonce videos and stuff like that, and I’m like, “All right, we’ll work with her.”

Of course we had to go within the limitations of what I could actually do. Trying to learn dance is like trying to learn another language, which I understand people who know the language, they can be like “OK, do this, this, this, this” and that person could repeat it right back to them. But for me, I could do the first bit, and them I’m like “Uh, what was next?” So, you know, within limitations we put something together. But in the end I was really surprised…  it came out as I hoped: Sort of fun and simple.

Watch the ‘It’s Alright’ Lyric Video

Read Part Two of the Matt & Kim Interview at Diffuser.fm

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