Interview with Matt & Kim

Credit: Sheila Kenny Credit: Sheila Kenny Credit: Sheila Kenny Credit: Sheila Kenny

At Carnegie Mellon University’s Carnival Concert three years ago, indie-pop duo Matt and Kim took the stage. Many students at the time were full-fledged fans, pushing their way closer for the best view while others who weren’t as familiar with the band waited at the fringes, curious about the band who they knew from hits like “Daylight” and “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare.” What ensued was a typical Matt and Kim set, a performance that felt more like a music festival or a party than an ordinary live show, punctuated by Kim Schifino’s heartfelt dance moves, Matt Johnson’s energy, and the pair’s infectiously joyful vibe. Students went wild singing along at the top of their lungs and jumping around. By the end of the night, everyone in attendance had been transformed by the “Matt and Kim Experience.”

Flash forward to 2017 where Matt and Kim put on an equally energetic performance at Vaiven Festival in Mexico. But, this time, when Kim launched herself off stage as she’d done countless times in the past, she landed funny and collapsed. Kim was ushered off stage and back to a doctor in the U.S. The diagnosis: a torn ACL. The prescription: nine months of rest and recovery. And so, Matt and Kim took an unexpected step away from the music scene, leaving fans anxiously awaiting news of Kim’s progress in hopes of the return of their music, their shows, and of course, Kim’s famous dance moves.

The wait is finally over; Matt and Kim are back. Their new album Almost Everyday, which has been described as their most “personal” release yet, drops May 4 and coincides with a North American tour (the band hit Pittsburgh’s own Mr. Smalls for a concert last Saturday).

As a fan myself, I can guarantee that Almost Everyday doesn’t disappoint. Their new songs “Forever,” “Happy if You’re Happy,” “Like I Used to Be,” and “Glad I Tried” still provide the hopelessly catchy and exclamatory sound of their previous albums while ensnaring you with lyrics that crawl under your skin and settle near your heart. Amidst the negativity that seems to overwhelm the world some days, the duo’s intricate blend of introspection, resilience, and a little bit of crazy, remind us what hope, joy, and togetherness feel like.

Amidst the craze of promoting their new album and getting back into the groove of touring, we were lucky enough to talk with Kim about the personal significance of Almost Everyday, the band’s musical growth, and how they’re feeling about returning to the scene after their time away.

The following conversation has been lightly edited. (WILL BE CLARIFIED)

Q: Almost Everyday has been described as one of your most personal albums so far. What makes it so personal to you guys?

A: We had a really tough 2017. It was a combination of all the crap going on in the world with all the awful headlines popping up daily and the fact I was injured onstage and Matt and I were forced to take a year off. It became a very dark year for us. We used all of that emotional experience in our writing process in a therapeutic way, and that really made this album hit home for us.

Q: Is there any significance to the album title, Almost Everyday?

A: Almost Everyday came about because it seems like almost everyday there is another awful headline in the news about horrible things going on.

Q: The Matt and Kim “sound” is incredibly unique and immediately identifiable. How after so many years and albums do you keep true to that sound while still exploring and growing artistically?

A: I like that! I don’t know if I ever thought about that. I guess we keep true to the sounds we love; there hasn’t ever been a song that I don’t want to put horns into! I hope we keep growing artistically and trying new things, because I feel like it would be super boring if we kept doing the same thing over and over again.

Q: Your upcoming album features many guest vocalists. Why did you decide to include other musicians on this album, and do you feel that featuring other artists had any effect on your process or your sound?

A: We wanted to recreate the experience we get at a live show where everyone sings along for the album. When we decided to include other musicians on the album, we felt it was fitting to reach out to friends and see if they would be down to be part of the group vocals. Everyone was so awesome to help us out, and it’s great to have such talented friends agree to be a part of [the album] and add to the songs we wrote.

Q: Your live performances are legendary. After taking a break from touring, how are you feeling about hitting the road and the stage again? Is there any aspect of touring/performing live that you guys particularly missed?

A: I am so excited to be back on tour. Playing shows is “home” for us. On stage is where we feel the most comfortable. I do not like sitting still, and after a year of doing that, I was dying to be back on stage. It made us appreciate the experience of being on tour and playing live shows even more than we already did. I am so thankful to everyone who has come out already to dance and rage with us on this tour. Our Pittsburgh show last week got nuts and I love that.

Q: Your band is known not just for your music but for your music videos as well. How do you translate the theme and feeling of your songs into videos?

A: The video stuff is all Matt, he’s a genius. I will say sometimes I think his ideas are crazy. There are definitely ones that I didn’t want to do, and he had to do a lot of persuading, but after we executed them and we won a [MTV Video Music Award] for them, I have to admit it was a genius idea.

Q: You guys seem to have forged your own unique path from the beginning of your career, from the fact that neither of you had too much musical experience prior to starting the band, to the kinds of music videos you create, to the times and places you’ve recorded albums and EPs. How do you maintain your identify and freedom in the music industry?

A: From the beginning we did everything ourselves and had control of everything. We kept doing this 'cause we know what we want, and we know how to make it happen. Our record label Fader has also been awesome with giving us the freedom to try out all our crazy ideas and never forcing us to stay within the lines. We love them for that, because the worst thing is when someone tells you you can’t do what you want...that just makes me want to do it even more!

Be sure to check out the Almost Everyday tracks and videos that have already been released to get a taste of the new album before it drops on May 4! And, if you want to be part of the “Matt and Kim Experience” check out mattandkimmusic.com for upcoming tour dates.