Matt and Kim Ride The Lightning
JPG: As far as attending festivals, do you get to spend time seeing other artists?
MJ: At Bonnaroo we do come in a day early, which is great, but a lot of that is doing press. I looked at the lineup when it officially came out and thought, “Wow! This is really good.” but I find myself getting frustrated that I can’t witness everything. Sometimes I don’t like to look at a schedule beforehand because then I’ll know “Well, you’re gonna have to miss this.” And then I start saying, “Maybe we should…” I don’t know. Whatever turns out that’s possible for us to catch I’ll find out when I’m there.
JPG: Besides performing you also had an event where you discussed your videos at the Cinema Tent.
MJ: We’ve definitely gained a reputation for our videos. People, all the time, say how much they love them. To me, who’s a film school guy and worked in different capacities of film before I started doing the band fulltime, I’ve always had a big part in coming up with most of the ideas for the videos and seeing them all the way through. That’s why there’s always been a consistency for a Matt and Kim video.
In the same way a movie has a DVD extra where you can listen to the commentary, we decided to play the video once and then play it again with the audio off and talk about what’s happening, a behind-the-scenes look. There’s a lot of things like our “Lessons Learned,” where we stripped in Times Square. “It’s Alright,” (slight laugh) another one with very little clothing. Then, there’s “Block after Block” where we’re going around New York doing flash mobs shows.
Basically, we gave an idea of ‘This is what happened. Yes, there were cops. And we did this, this many times.’ We talked about one of our videos before for an interview. It was interesting the information that a lot of people don’t know about it, so we decided, ‘Let’s tell people about all these and hopefully it’ll be interesting.
I’m so familiar with the videos due to the whole making-of process and telling the stories that went along with it.
JPG: You talk about keeping them consistent, what are you aims for your videos?
MJ: It’s an old advertising idea. I want to be intrigued by the idea with one sentence. Very simply…like food is thrown at Matt and Kim for three minutes. ‘Yeah, I’d like to see that!’ or Matt and Kim synchronized dance in bed while sleeping.
We came from this background of having no money to make videos initially. So, it was always, ‘We need to come up with a billion dollar idea that could be made for 500 bucks.’ (slight laugh) It was always having a very simple idea that had some intrigue and a short description as opposed to ‘Well, the band plays in a well-lit room and there’s a subplot that involves a guy and a girl and we cut back and forth a bit.’ No, there’s no idea there. You’re just shooting things. We always liked the simplest idea that can still be intriguing.
JPG: That correlates with the music. You talk about keeping the videos simple and the music simple but they work in a very impactful manner.
MJ: I really believe in that. In writing music I found that it’s easy and you feel safer to add more tracks, add more layers and leave nothing hanging out but, sometimes, that waters it down. If you can break it down to its most raw elements that’s when things stay with you the most. I’m glad you see that. That’s one of my creative theories across the board.
JPG: That reminds me. On “Overexposed” is that an actual bass or just the low end of the keyboard during the instrumental break?
MJ: That’s bass. When I started playing music it was playing bass in punk bands. There’s very little guitar but there’s bass in that and in “Much Too Late” there’s just one string of a guitar that I play through that. I think I’m about ready. I want to play one string of a guitar onstage for a very different Matt and Kim thing.
JPG: As far as the music, at what point did you feel that you were on the right track? Rehearsals? Shows in Brooklyn? Playing shows nationally and you saw that people all over got it?
MJ: It’s interesting that you say that because I never thought I would ever make a living off playing music and I’ve been lucky enough to do so over the past six years or something like that. We started as two people — Kim never played drums, I didn’t sing or play keyboards or synthesizers – but when we started playing at parties…I remember playing our first show in a basement in Queens, a friend convinced us to open. We didn’t even think we were a band. He just found out we were playing instruments together. So, we wrote a few songs…I don’t know.
After that people kept asking us to play and we made a little EP of five songs in our practice space, People seemed to like that. At the time MySpace was huge so we it put up there, and then we started traveling on that…
It’s weird because I just remember growing up and there were bands that were such real bands to me that were in retrospect much smaller than Matt and Kim are. I have to write “Musician” when I’m doing my immigration paperwork going into other countries and I think, “Wow! Can I really put that? Am I like someone who writes “Poet” and works in a coffee shop?” For some reason I can’t see myself in the same light. It’s confusing where I might have realized, “Oh, these songs are really connecting,” because it was in a way very gradual.