Matt and Kim are almost always beaming with thousand-watt smiles when they play their bouncy synth-pop to audiences that usually stand only inches away. Maybe it's just their nature, or maybe it's because they've already conducted several national tours in the two short years since they began to sketch out demos in their Brooklyn apartment. Whatever the reason, their joy is arresting and infectious - it bubbles in between the jerky thumps of Kim's kick drum and the pulsating attack of Matt's keyboards and it's moving them up the Indie rock ranks at an accelerated pace.
Soon after forming in 2004, the duo pounced on Brooklyn's music scene with a DIY work ethic that should make many more vocal subscribers of the ethos blush. Whether it's lofts in Bushwick or coffee shops in California, all Matt and Kim have needed are a few square feet to set up and a few pairs of feet to get into it. The duo released their debut full length on Iheartcomix Records in October, and they're back on the road for an extended tour to promote the album. They've also made a couple of attention grabbing videos that are as fun as they are disturbing. As capable as they are of delivering the good times, it's very tempting to call Matt and Kim cute. However, it's a term they'd prefer you didn't use, and it easy to understand why. To call them cute is to ignore many of the more mature, unique components of their sound.
Both members are relatively new students of their instruments, but the playing is by no means simple or obvious. Matt weaves engaging vocal hooks and complex synth melodies all while keeping a steady, growling rhythmic attack with his bass hand. More importantly, Matt's voice is the uncelebrated star of this outfit. Thin of tone and limited in range, Matt is nonetheless able to manipulate his pitch and delivery to create an impressively broad palate of emotions and attitudes. Sometimes he sounds like a more earnest Stephen Malkmus warbling in and out of key, while elsewhere on the record he shrieks and gasps in a style reminiscent of early-era Modest Mouse. There are moments, however, when Matt and Kim's ebullience demands a description that is at least suggestive of cuteness. The first single off their self-titled record, "Yea Yeah," is a three and half minute gem that gets your extremities twitching at the first note. Climaxing with the repetition of title phrase, it's hard not to revel in the warm energy created by their romantic and professional partnership. I had a chance to talk to Kim over a crackling cell phone connection as she helped Matt navigate their van towards Phoenix.
You just put out your first full length and you're on a national tour. How's it going?
It's great. We're basically hitting up spots that we've been to a few times. It gets better and better each time. We just got a booking agent, so this is the last tour that I'm going to book.
You have some fun, interesting videos. Where do the ideas come from?
The first video was done by our friend Colin. He's a little sick in the head. That kind of helps. We kind of get pegged as being cute, so we try to avoid that. That's why we try and push the videos in the direction that they go. Covered in blood and chopping each other up is one way.
You put out a 7" on Moshi Moshi Records, and now Iheartcomix just released your full length. What produced these different label relationships?
Moshi Moshi contacted us awhile back. They were into what we were doing. They were in the talks before Iheartcomix. They were starting out a new singles club and wanted us to be apart of that. We were playing this rooftop party in Brooklyn. Frankie Chan was there Djing and called us. We wanted to keep it within friends. He was friend of a friend and we kind of had the same ideas, and it was it just worked out.
Your web presence doesn't offer much biographical info. How did Matt and Kim come to be?
We both met at Pratt institute. We were dating for a few years before we started the band. We had worked on art projects together and some film stuff and we just worked really well together -we don't get sick of each other. Matt was writing some really awesome solo stuff and so we just made the decision to start to band. I learned to play the drums. Matt was playing guitar and drums in another band and so he learned the keyboard and after lots of practice we started the band.
Do you see yourselves ever bringing other musicians, either live or for recording, into Matt & Kim?
We've always talked about doing a show and having strings in it. I think that would be really awesome. To add anyone else in the band - I think it works well with just the two of us. I don't think there's room for another "and."
Do you prefer house shows/parties or venues when you play in New York?
Personally I prefer house and loft shows. It's more intimate. It's getting a little tough lately, especially in Brooklyn. We kind of need a stage. We've been getting tackled and breaking stuff. I'm afraid we might not be able to do that any more, but that's what I prefer. With venues you lose the party a little bit and we definitely like the party.