By Kate Gamble
Photo Courtesy Right On! PR
We saw them last summer at the Piazza at Schmidt’s climbing up the stage scaffolding. We saw them at Lollapalooza performing in front of thousands of eager fans who were calling out their names. We even saw them on our television screens winning awards from MTV for their music videos. But most importantly, we heard them – and never stopped listening.
Matt and Kim have a line up of new shows around the country for a three month tour, a brand new single released in August and another album due this month, but Matt had just enough time to talk to us about what it’s like to be a small duo making big, big music.
If you haven’t caught this bandwagon yet, we suggest you do. And soon. After years creating an underground sound, the fever has broken and Matt and Kim are about as mainstream as an electro-indie duo band from Brooklyn is going to get. They quickly sold out the First Unitarian Church at the end of last month and their new album, Sidewalks is now available. So, come on, already.
“Kim will tell me to play everything faster,” Matt says, chuckling a little after first sharing details on the process the two go through to create a song.
He explains that they start off with a beat and “collect bits and pieces” until a more finalized track comes to form. They write lyrics together, which according to Matt is “the most collaborative part,” though they always come last. “Lyrics are so damn hard. We don’t write love songs, we never have and never will write love songs.”
Everything they do together is, well, somewhat intimate. “There’s not enough time for side projects,” he says. “This is way more than a full time job. From the second we wake up in the morning to the second we go to bed at night.” With the amount of time the pair spends together you would think they’d want to tear each other apart, but, he swears, tensions rarely rise. “We started off in college because we did other things together really well…We shared one cell phone for five years. We never had to call each other.”
Their material has been featured in commercials, television shows and even video games. Though when attending a live show, one thing is obvious: Matt and Kim take pride in being in tune with their audience and make an effort to update their website and all other social media regularly. “It’s hard. How do we do it?” Matt marvels. “Kim does all of the album artwork,” – so there’s that, plus she does some sketches and drawings for the website. The two met at the Pratt Institute, a competitive art school in Brooklyn, though both are originally from New England.
Matt and Kim recorded their first self-titled album in a studio, but had mixed feelings about the results. Matt admits, “There was no money for the first recorded album and it was done in one week.” When recording Grand, Matt and Kim decided to use the money they made off of the first album and buy their own gear to record in Matt’s parent’s house and do it all themselves. The album was completed in nine months, “the time it takes to make a baby,” he jokes. The duo even won a MTV video award for “Breakthrough Video of the Year” in 2009.
And what about the upcoming, and much anticipated, album? “Having more means than before,” Sidewalks was recorded in studio like their very first album and took the same amount of time to complete. The two had access to producers and studio equipment, but could “still try things,” like enhancing a song by adding a random kazoo or harmonica for fun. “Recorded music and live music are two very different things,” he explains. And while recorded music contains all of the little instrumental details, expectations are slightly different for live music when an audience is just looking to hear the gist of the beat enough to recognize and dance to. Matt’s Tao on playing live? Matt and Kim first record their music and then figure out how to play it live later. This way tracks are slightly stripped down, but still consistent to the vibe of the songs.
And if you’re a fan, wondering what to expect from Sidewalks, Matt’s endorsement hooked us when he said, “We were able to make the music we wanted to hear.”