Matt & Kim bring 'Sidewalks' tour to The Masquerade
June 28th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

Soundcheck: Seven years in, Matt & Kim still have that feeling

When Brooklyn based duo Matt & Kim arrived in Philadelphia as part of their “Sidewalks” tour in early June, the temps were so sweltering that drummer Kim Schifino says she almost threw up on stage.

Good thing their next stop brought them to Atlanta on a thick, humid day, where the heat from outside was felt even more in the grungy confines of The Masquerade, where the two were set to play.

But the sticky weather actually hit the perfect note for the band, consisting of Kim and singer/keyboardist Matt Johnson, since they love nothing more than to throw a “sweaty dance party.”

CNN caught up with the two to talk "Sidewalks," live music and why they welcome a little pre-performance anxiety.

Matt and Kim's romance and musical adventures began in 2004 after they met at the Pratt Institute in New York, right around the same time they started learning their instruments.

“One day I was like ‘I want to learn how to play the drums,’” said Kim. “And he had a keyboard he wanted to figure out, so we just decided to learn together.”

The combination worked well for them, and their friends began to demand performances.

“Forced to play a show, couldn’t think of a name, [they] listed us as our names – boom. The rest is history,” said Matt.

Currently on tour after their third full-length album “Sidewalks,” Matt and Kim came back to Atlanta, where they recorded last year with producer Ben Allen. Known for his work with artists including Gnarles Barkley, Animal Collective and Christina Aguilera, the duo spent several months working with Ben.

Like the producer’s resume, Matt and Kim don’t feel their music necessarily fits into one category. On tour they’ve accompanied a variety of acts, from punk-rock band Against Me, to the DJ Girl Talk, to hip-hop group The Cool Kids.

“Wherever people want to go out and dance and have fun, that seems to be where we make sense,” explained Matt.

“Sidewalks,” released last November, is Matt & Kim’s second album from the FADER Label, following their ’09 disc, “Grand,” featuring the hit “Daylight.”

Meetings with other labels happened before landing at FADER, including a sit-down with the legendary Rick Rubin from Columbia. But the two quickly realized that FADER, which also has a publishing and film division, was a better environment to harness their creativity beyond just music.

“We like the idea of a multimedia company and something that wasn’t just trapped into selling albums, because we knew that was going down,” said Matt.

But when Matt & Kim play live, they give fans an entirely different experience. For Matt, recorded music and live music are two very different art forms.

He compares studio recording with acting for the screen. “With recorded [music] you want little nuances that people pick up the fiftieth time they’re sitting in their car listening to it,” Matt said. “But when you get on stage, [you] just strip it down to a beat and a melody.”

They also don’t miss out on the fun. In what’s become a show stopping staple, Kim puts down her drum sticks, climbs atop the hands of “strong looking” crowd members and booty dances to a techno beat.

Describing their show as having “high energy” is an understatement. The adrenaline often possesses Matt to stand on his stool with one foot while bending down to keep playing the keyboard. And it’s a joy that keeps Kim grinning from ear to ear, with arms flailing (you have a better chance of a UFO sighting than a smile-less Kim on stage).

So back in that small, stuffy room upstairs at The Masquerade before the concert, Matt and Kim explain that despite playing shows for around seven years now, they still get this “not nervous, but anxious” feeling – and they hope that never changes.

“The second you don't get that feeling anymore, is when you don't care anymore, and the thing is, we care,” said Matt. “So hopefully that won't go away.”

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. truntyCheerve

    Hello, I am new here, please be kind 🙂

    July 4, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sarah

    Wow, we got some haters on here. I like Matt + Kim's songs. Whenever they pop up on Pandora, I say "ooh, who is this" and it's them. They KILLLLLLLLLED it at Bonnaroo. Hands-down best live show I've seen, for the energy, electricity, songs, everything. I didn't know this was a group that "targets teens." Especially alarming as I am 26! 🙂

    June 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. olkvgn

    Music is subjective. No two people have the same taste or preference. So "Maurice" just because you don't like it does NOT make it bad – it just means you don't like it. Furthermore, if you decide a form of music is bad or good without listening to it then you are close-minded, and more than likely not too bright.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Maurice

    I'll tell you what is sad about these groups that target young teens. The teenage years are a very impressionable time and the kids just listen to whatever comes their way. It isn't really a choice so much as what they are constantly bombarded with. And what is it that they are bombarded with? Cheesy, shallow, monotonous pop commercial junk. Wouldn't it be nice to give them an atmosphere full of more creative, original, and enlightening music?

    June 29, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. The Man

    Hansons 2.0 – 'nuff said

    June 29, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Wow. There are a lot of very smart people in this thread. I'm totally convinced; Matt and Kim must suck, regardless of what I think of their music.

    June 29, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Terrible Band

    This is the most over rated, crap band ever. Matt sounds like the dude from Dead or Alive

    June 29, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. style over subtance

    Matt and Kim is a classic example of style over substance. Is it any wonder the hipster girls obsess over this band?

    June 29, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Vapenis

    Hey don't hate on them. Kim might be a her-maf-fro-dite but maybe thats why people accept them. The music is pure crap though but other her-maf-fro-dites will support each other regardless of the annoying music. Like me.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Takin a Deuce

    You KNOW Matt likes to drink the manPee.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. Anthony love to show my weener.

    His heart tattoos on the left are ugly. They make him look stupid, along with their music.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. butterface-gaga

    Is that Matt on the left. He has long hair but has small traits of a female. But those guys are ugly though. Not to mention the music producers make for them sucks. Agree with Umyeah-eatmyass

    June 29, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. Umyeah-eatmyass

    They are successful because they target young teens who try to be different and goth. The music just sucks how can you like this crap. They don't even right the crappy lyrics the producer does. That song they sing off the show community is so cheesy and stupid. Umyeah I bet you like nickleback and good charlotte too. LOL.Nothing good has come out of music since grunge.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • umyeahyoureanidiot

      So, kids that try to different and goth like this band, but the people who actually do like this band also like mainstream bands like Nickleback? What? Reading the logic-free monstrosity that you just typed that you call a 'paragraph' has given me a major headache.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Your a no talent @ssclown

      You should not be making any judgements on music, especially if you are not a musician and cannot play your $#^%^ing nasal passage. These two talented people make better music than most full bands, so do yourself a favor, and put a bullet through your eardrums, cause you have no use for them anyway, Dick.

      June 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raquel

      I beg to differ. My 19 year old begged me to go to the show and insisted I would enjoy it. It was one of the best shows we've been to and we do about 50 shows a year. It was so good that 2 days later I bought tickets for another show they'll be performing here. BTW, I'm 48 years old, no where near being a teen but thanks for the compliment.

      June 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. umyeah

    I love how people call successful artists talentless. Clearly they have talent on some level or they wouldn't BE successful.

    June 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TJ

    I love them if you are from nyc you must know them. Hope their concert tomorrow is awesome.

    June 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  16. apples

    How do that cram all that graham into golden grahams?

    June 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Ted Nugent

    I want to vomit on them.

    June 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Bort

    By all accounts they seem like good people. I say their success is well earned. Cheers!

    June 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  19. dougsky

    Their Bonnaroo show this year was awesome! They also killed it in Detroit!

    June 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Curtis E Flush

    This band sucks so bad. Why do people enjoy this poppy stupid sounding music. Talentless.

    June 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Arthur Fonzarelli


    June 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  22. ryan

    Saw them in Denver last tuesday, absolutely amazing show...very electric personalities

    June 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  23. homer


    June 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  24. fernace

    So refreshing to hear about real musicians for a change. All that sampling & auto-tune is so played, bring on the instruments & the enthusiastic musicians that play them! Even Beyonce wants to be a rock star, as she told the Glastonbury crowd! So, kudos to Matt & Kim, they got the right idea! Rock on, rocker!!

    June 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |

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