Noise Pop Newsletter
Matt & Kim's MySpace tagline is "Play It Faster," which pretty much sums up the ethos of the frenetic and relentlessly upbeat Brooklyn duo. With simple, hook-laden arrangements, careening, half-yelled vocals, low-on-frills but high-on-energy drum beats, and an infectiously exuberant onstage presence, the pair appeals to listeners who like music that just plain makes them happy. Only together since 2004, the couple has have garnered good reviews for their debut eponymous disc from Pitchfork and the Onion's AV Club, and were also named Gothamist's Band of the Week in September. We talked to keyboardist/singer Matt Johnson about the smiles and happy feet at their increasingly popular live shows.
You seem to have a real connection and intimacy with your fans. Why do you think this is?
The connection with our fans is part of going out there to have fun. Not trying to distance ourselves from the crowd. We named our band Matt & Kim partially because we couldn't think of anything else, but also because it's just two people up there. Using first names makes it personal. Someone once asked why we don't get a real band name. Our reaction was that's exactly what we don't need.
Do you think starting out in the Brooklyn loft party scene affected your approach to making music?
I think so. We never looked at ourselves as being a pro band, or wanting to be. We were just having fun. If we messed up, we'd just laugh through it. Starting in a formal club setting it can be tough, because the crowd is just standing there watching you.
What's you process for writing songs?
We start out with a beat and take it from there. At first, I was writing songs for a lot of different instruments, even a baritone ukulele. Then I'd bring it back and translate it to the keyboard. It was a good way to do it, because it forced me to approach some things differently than you normally might on a keyboard.
Who would you say are your influences?
I don't know if most people believe this when I tell them, but Kim and I listen to mostly Top 40 hip-hop and pop-punk. Hip-hop songs have really simple beats that are easy to catch on to. They run the melody through the entire song; it doesn't change up at the bridge or the chorus. We liked that and we've tried to use it in our music.
If you only had a few words or a phrase, how would you sum up your music?
Wow. I'm passing this one to Kim. How about fun? A three-letter description. Friends. Honesty. This is hard. (confers with Kim) Ah, tough fun! Knives. Guns. Switchblades. Blood. Cake. I like cake. Chainsaws. - Jeff Palfini