Positive Guy Meets Negative Blog

No we’re not talking about EMJ; negativity here generally means being ignored. We’re talking about New York blog Brooklyn Vegan, whose readers seem to have a strong love/hate relationship with Matt & Kim. Energetic Brooklyn dwellers Matt & Kim have a reputation for their manic, over the top and crazy live show, they enjoy themselves so much that they constantly wear huge smiles on their bubbly faces. But there lies the problem. Negative hipsters from New York for some reason have a problem with their happy stage appearance. Matt explains, “there’s this blog here called Brooklyn Vegan and they write something positive about you and then almost all the time there’s just like a hundred comments like ‘what do they have to be so happy about?’, all this ridiculous bullshit.” However over time Matt & Kim have grown quite fond of the hate, which seems ever so amusing considering the duo consistently sells out venues across the world. “So like, when we get written up there now and we don’t get enough haters, that’s when Kim gets mad.”

But Matt hasn’t always been such a happy, confident guy. In fact as I talk to him he sounds a bit down, explaining his frustration at being injured and being unable to play shows, “I just don’t have time for it” he growls, “no time for it.” Recently Matt was the victim of his own energetic stage performance, injuring his back while performing a stunt. He was on the road to recovery and then at a band practice he re-injured himself. “I thought I was getting all better again then I went to practice because we were supposed to have a gig yesterday and something shifted again and we had to cancel yesterday’s show.” Despite the hiccup,  Matt is positively focused on getting better, he says “I’m gonna work hard and take it easy all at the same time.”

Before meeting Kim, Matt described himself as a shy person, who attended New York’s Pratt Institute and played bass guitar in a punk band. He describes the couple’s first meeting as a nervous affair, but with a very cute twist. In Matt’s own words, “base of the story is Kim gave me her number three times after just seeing me around the school, but I was intimidated by her tattoos and she was older than I, so I kept not calling back. But finally I sucked it up and we got in contact. So we dated for three years before playing any music together.” When they did finally start playing music together, they had no idea what sort of sound was going to come out. Matt’s previous musical background was playing punk music, while Kim’s only musical exploit was playing clarinet in junior high. Matt says “I’d played in bands since I was like 14… but I’d never really sung in a band before. I’d done screem-y vocals, like in hardcore type bands and Kim had never played drums; I’d never played keyboards.”

So the music the pair makes together is quite organic, and is more influenced by their own experimentation than by listening to other artists. “We didn’t even think about what type of band or what type of music we were gonna play. It’s just kinda what came out when we started.” Since the days of making music in their small apartment, the band has now become widely known across the world. Matt reflects on their progression as a band and makes it sound very much like a clichéd story of the Brooklyn indie hipster. “When we started practising it was in our bedroom at our old apartment and we just had like towels over the drum set and we kept it really quiet. When we started doing shows, we did all these loft art spaces and warehouses and weird non-venue spaces and they would get noise complaints filed and the cops would come and we’d have to stop.” And now “we practise in this complex that 300 other bands practice in, all of which you can hear; it has paper thin walls.”

“…there’s a lot of jumping around and falling off stools and whatnot…”

The band’s recent success, on the back of their self-titled first record and their recently released album Grand, has seen them invited to play some of the larger festivals.  In 2007 they played Lollapalooza to around 10,000 people. In stark contrast to playing in small, dark underground clubs, they found themselves stuck behind a barrier elevated above the massive crowd. But despite Matt & Kim’s usual environment, on the floor surrounded by fans, the distance between themselves and the crowd didn’t seem to phase Matt. “the thing about festivals which is really great is that people go with an open mind. You know sometimes when you’re just there as a support band and people are there to see the headlining band they’re not really there to take in your stuff.” Matt puts their success at the festivals down to their approach to music. “At festivals people are very open and the thing about Kim and I’s music is that it’s the bare bones. Which is kinda why we like music in the first place, because of the melody and the beat. Before putting your intellect into it and hearing all the other noise shit, you know, stuff that goes on inside a song, the beat and the melody are the parts you respond to and that’s all Kim and I are, is like a simple beat and a simple melody.”

A simple melody and a simple beat pretty much sums up the band’s sound perfectly and their live set up is just as simple. “We found out that to play a live show we can get a full sound out of playing  keyboards and drums. I play two keyboards and Kim has a very small drum set that’s just like three pieces and that makes up the whole show.” But by no means can you expect the set up to be boring, Matt adds to the point, “there’s a lot of jumping around and falling off stools and whatnot, as long as I can recover.”

Matt & Kim live in New Zealand

Wednesday, May 6, 2009- Whammy Bar, Auckland

Thursday, May 7, 2009- Mighty Mighty, Wellington

Matt & Kim- Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare: MP3

 Matt & Kim- Myspace

Posted by Nick Fulton under New York
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