Birthed from the DIY music scene in New York City, Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino didn't start out trying to have a proper band. But at their first show, respected underground promoter Todd Patrick gave the then-unnamed duo a fairly obvious moniker that managed to stick.
For the past few years, Matt & Kim have brought their irresistibly appealing and exuberant live performances to rapidly widening audiences. Although there's nothing jagged or particularly angular about the band's sound, Matt & Kim's music is often referred to as "dance punk." If anything, the group combines the head-long momentum of dance punk with the artless, fun-loving spirit of the best indie pop.
Westword: Accurately or not, some people equate New York artists with a kind of jaded, ironic distance, but your band is the opposite of that. What fuels your joyful exuberance as songwriters and live performers?
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Matt Johnson: I think it's Kim and I's general outlook just as people. We're very honest on stage with the music we play. We play music that is what we'd want to hear. We play the types of shows we'd want to go to, and on stage, we're very much ourselves. We're excited to play, and we show it. There are so many bands that you can tell look at themselves in a full-length mirror in the morning and put their guitar on and say, "This is the look for the stage." We don't think about any of that. All we do is embarrass ourselves.
The postcard idea on your website is fantastic. What led to you actually follow through with such a thing?
We gave that some thought, because we'd done postcards in the past of just cards about our new album coming, and at festivals, [we had] different members of the street team from our record label passing them out. They seemed so expendable, and a million of them are in the dirt. It seemed so wasteful. So we thought about what we could do to make it an interactive process. Between Kim and myself and a couple of people at the record label, we brainstormed about that, and one thing led to another.
I remembered part of a book called Fucked Up + Photocopied, full of old punk-rock posters. There was one for — I believe it was in that book — there was a poster in that book for Minor Threat that invited you to "draw in Ian's hair," because he was always shaved bald. I remember seeing that poster and thinking it was such a great idea. The idea of drawing Matt & Kim came from that, and we put it on the website and gave it some sort of interactivity.