Ever since Matt and Kim took all of their clothes off in Times Square for their “Lessons Learned” music video, indie music fans everywhere knew that it was love—not only between everyone’s favorite offbeat couple, but between the duo and their fans.
In an exclusive interview with iSPY, Matt of Matt and Kim discussed the duo’s infamous music videos, what it’s like working with a significant other and the band’s upcoming show in Detroit.
Rolling Stone says that you and Kim are married. Are you married?
No, we’re not married, but we have been together for a number of years. There’s been a lot of different information. We never lie about our relationship or anything like that. We never say it’s anything that it’s not, but I think people do assume [things]. We’ve just been dating for a lot of years.
How many years?
Eight, I believe.
Is there a reason you haven’t gotten married?
I don’t know. I just couldn’t imagine—especially in the last few years or whatever—fitting anything else into my schedule period. I guess weddings are really hard to put together. I don’t know if my friends aren’t getting married or just no one is inviting me or what, but I’ve never been to a wedding in my adult life.
What is it like being in a relationship with someone that you’re working with and creating music with?
Well, I think in most cases in my history and in a lot of other people’s cases, it would be a total disaster, but, for Kim and I, somehow we spend every waking second together, and we still get along and we haven’t killed each other yet. I can’t figure it out. The thing is, before we played any music together, we worked on a lot of different things together. We worked on art stuff and did installations in a couple of galleries and did other bands’ album covers and things like that. We met at art school and we just knew we worked really well together. We’re on the same page about a lot of things, and that’s how we ended up playing music. It was not because Kim had ever played drums, because she hadn’t, or that I was a keyboard player, because I wasn’t. It was just that we worked well together.
In light of the fact that you hadn’t played keyboard and Kim hadn’t played drums before, what made you decide to make a band? Did you have other musical experience?
I had played in a number of bands throughout high school and when I went to college. I always played guitar and bass, and Kim had wanted to learn how to play drums for a long time. She was just learning how to play drums—not really to start a band or anything. I learned how to play keyboard—basically because I had this keyboard that I had borrowed from my neighbor years ago because it looked cool, but I had never figured out how to play it. All of it kind of turned out by accident. Matt and Kim weren’t necessarily going to be a drums and keyboard band. It was going to be whatever the hell Matt and Kim happened to play. In some of our early stuff there is guitar and baritone ukulele and stuff like that.
I’ve heard that you’re the mastermind behind the music videos. Is that correct?
You said that you and Kim do very well working together, but what about that music video for “Cameras?”
The inspiration for the video was trying to do a music video that had the energy of a live show—like a performance video. That was where the concept came from, but I do feel like Kim has been bitter about a number of things. While she had fun in the end and the video came out good, it took a lot of convincing to get her to do the video where she took her clothes off in Times Square. There were a lot of things she didn’t want to do going into them and I had to convince her, but she really did want to do that “Cameras” video. We went through fight choreography and how you’re supposed to fight for a camera—like punching a foot away from someone’s face and whatnot. But when we got on camera, Kim just punched me square in the nose as hard as she could—bloody nose, black eye and everything. I felt like she was getting something out.
But why did you choose to make a fight video?
It was a sensitive topic because my mom works with domestic violence cases at the district attorney’s office in Vermont, so we were sensitive to that. We just wanted a big, over the top, Hollywood-feeling fight scene. It’s just this classic part of cinema that’s in so many movies but is not seen that often in music videos. It was just about the fun and energy and excitement of all of that. Doing it was really fun.
Is that kind of similar to how you came up with the idea for your “Lessons Learned” music video—just because it was a crazy, fun experience?
The simplest, most effective idea is a lot of times the best. I really wanted to do a one shot video where there were no cuts or anything, so I thought of this idea. While most of our songs are quite upbeat, some of our lyrics are quite a bit darker. The lyrics [in “Lessons Learned”] are sort of about the freedom you get from hitting rock bottom. I thought, “Freedom—well that’s like taking off all of your clothes.” We talked about trying to do this in backstreets in Brooklyn and industrial areas, but I thought, “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this in Times Square or somewhere that’s really public, and that will show this freedom.” One thing just led to the next.
You’re getting a lot of success right now. How does that feel?
We appreciate it dearly. We never have any expectations for anything. We do what we love because that’s what we love to do. When we started this band, we didn’t want it to be about money and notoriety or anything like that. We just love playing shows and we love writing music, and [people happen to] like what we make. It’s always great to feel like things are moving forward. It keeps things fresh and new—especially on this tour. We’re doing bigger shows and all these venues that we’ve ever done. It just has this feeling of growth. It feels new, and it feels exciting.
What should Detroit expect from your live show on June 24?
Detroit should expect what we’ve had in the past. Detroit has been great, and we’ve definitely had our share of dance parties together and whatnot. That’s always our bottom line—a sweaty, dance party, good time vibe. Along with that, we do have some extra stuff and tricks and production that we bring with us. We have this whole light setup and stuff, but all that’s for is adding to the vibe of this dance party that we want to create. The Thermals will be with us—they’re an incredible band that we’re big fans of. They’re totally a party, so bring your dancing shoes.
Matt and Kim will be performing at 8 p.m. on June 24 at the Majestic in Detroit. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.mattandkimmusic.com.