The piano begins, the high pitch cutting through the silence. A simple melody: dun dun-nun dun dun dun-nun dun cues the listener of the song to come. Their most popular, featured in commercials, indie films and Instagram stories alike, still catches attention 10 years later. Its upbeat tone and quick note bursts is instantly recognizable but many still have yet to know its name.
The song is “Daylight” and it’s the band’s biggest hit to date; however, the band has seen some stuff in its tenure.
Matt and Kim derives its name from the two stars of the show, Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino (naturally) who already have a lengthy career under their leather belts. The two released their first album in 2009 and have been strumming the keys and drumming a beat ever since. Following a recent announcement of the duo’s intent to tour on the album that kick-started their career, we got the opportunity to catch up with one-half, Matt.
Did you expect “Grand” to be as big as it was?
Well, first off, if we thought it would be as popular as it was - hell no! We recorded that album in my bedroom at my parent’s house. I didn’t even know how to record music, I was just googling like, ‘how do you record things?’ That was our second album, our first album we had done - you know, because we had already been a band for five years before that and we lived in this DIY space, you know a lot of the types of shows we played were odd venues and you know, we thought that’s how it would always be. You know, with the first album we were playing some smaller venues and getting to open and stuff at festivals but it wasn’t until the “Grand” album that again we thought was just going to put us on the main trajectory that we were very happy to be a part of and then it just connected on this other level that I still can’t pinpoint it. I mean especially that “Daylight” song. I think it was like a month ago I noticed that “Daylight” had hit like 100 million streams on Spotify - and first of all, Spotify did not exist in the US when that song came out, so it’s not like one of those situations where it had a lot of hype in the beginning, it’s just like people keep coming back. I think I posted about that like a month ago that it hit 100 million and now it’s already 103 million you know, it just keeps going. For me, when I think of successful songs for us those are the type of songs that get 5 or 10 million streams on Spotify, like that’s for an indie or alt band that’s like what we do, but then every now and then we have a couple songs that just take on lives of their own and I’m happy to have had them and I’m happy they’re songs I’m proud of, but I do not expect or continue to expect that in the future.
The live show and music video are two very important parts of who Matt and Kim are. What’s your favorite part of live show and making music videos?
I mean I’m excited that there’s all these different - yeah, there’s a few different capacities of being in a band, which have almost no relation. Like writing music and playing shows are...have almost nothing to do with each other. I love that there’s those two sides. For me I went to film school, you know, going to school a big dream would have been to just make music videos and of course now we live in a world where I don’t think anyone makes a big career off making music videos. It’s always been fun for us, we want to think of a great idea that we can do for cheap and that’s always what it’s been like. Even though I had a lot of fun doing a bunch of music videos, Kim feels that I just tortured her in a lot of them, whether that’s getting food thrown at her, making her take her clothes off in public - I think she’s proud of the videos afterwards, but they’re mostly ideas I had and she thinks it’s just me trying to get back at her.
So, you’re going on 10 years of Grand and 15 years of Matt and Kim - what’s the secret to a successful/lengthy career?
I think it’s just working with someone that you wholeheartedly get along with. I think that so many problems for so many bands is when the people stop getting along. You know, for Kim and I, we were dating for a couple years before we even tried playing music together and we were just two people that were on the same page creatively - but even though she had never played drums before. I kind of think like if you find someone that you just love spending time with, even if they don’t know how to play music, they’re a better person to put in your band than someone who’s really great at an instrument but you guys don’t really have a lot in common or something. As far as longevity is concerned that seems to be our key.
After all of these years do you still enjoy playing Daylight live?
Oh hell yeah! I mean, my biggest enjoyment out of - I love playing shows and my main enjoyment is seeing an excited crowd and whatever we do, everything in our show is just to make the crowd more and more excited and part of that like if they’re excited to hear that song, like most people are, then it’s a great moment for the show - even though bizarrely, definitely not the most exciting part of the show. It’s actually kind of tamed down, I don’t know if it’s because people take out their camera phones and stuff, but usually the energy seems to tame down in that song a bit compared to other parts of the show, but you know, it’s an important part of our history.
Having been to a Matt and Kim show, let us just say, it is not what we expected. There were a lot more blow up dolls and dildos than could have been anticipated. Also, the mini mosh pit that began around us was a pleasant surprise.
For a group that has been creating stuff together for so long, what’s the creative process? Do you start every song with lyrics, or the beat, or is it all kind of organic depending on the song?
Never lyrics! They are so hard. It’s funny, I think so much in beat and melody and vibe, but words, while the most important part of the song, one might argue, just don’t come natural. You know we’ll start with a beat and then I’ll do some chords on top and melody and then we’ll always put off the words like it’s Sunday night and we’ve got to get the homework done before school Monday like it’s the last thing we do, but we do it together and put a real joint effort in it, but again, it’s not that I don’t value great words or great lyrics in songs, I love them. Our lyrics are just not easy. Meanwhile other people can just like, you know, you see these rappers that can just freestyle and I’m kind of envious of them.
In another article, you had said that Almost Everyday was used as a coping mechanism, which was the first time you guys had done that - how would you compare using Almost Everyday as a coping mechanism to the writing on Grand?
Here’s the thing - I don’t think we’ve moved in any one kind of direction. I think we’ve over the course of all the different music, we put out - it’s not headed in one place. We’ll do something, then we’ll do something different and then we’ll go back and do something we did before, so I think it’s all about narratives. The era of that last album last year was - it was a heavier time for us. There was a lot of shit going on in the world that I wasn’t excited about and Kim had torn her ACL and had a long recovery and we had to cancel all of our shows. It was like seeing a weird world where we don’t get to do the band anymore and it was not a world I want to be part of, so we just didn’t feel like making you know, as up-beat of music and it just wouldn’t have been honest. The reality is that we make a lot of up-beat music and that’s just honestly us and it’s no sort of marketing ploy or whatever - we’re genuinely just happy about life and getting to do what we do with our significant other. So that album, content wise - lyric wise, did become a little bit heavier. I noticed - I didn’t even realize the thematic word of ‘death’ in it, but I think it was more about taking advantage of now before it’s gone. But now we’re making music again and we came out of that situation and we’re just more appreciative and positive about it all than ever, so I think this new music that we’re putting, or writing, I don’t know when it’ll come out, there’s no plan for another album, but we’ll put out a song and we hope to do collaborations, but I definitely think it’s a lot more up-beat, back to us again.
This is probably something you get asked a lot, but we’re just curious what some of the positives and negatives might be about being a couple as well as a band?
I think most people would kill each other [laughs], but I think we do get asked - a lot of people say, ‘don’t work with your significant other,’ for some reason for us it’s the only way this will work. There’s people in our crew and stuff that when we go on tour for months they have to leave a significant other behind and I’m sure it makes a lot of tension, but for me and Kim it’s been nice that all of our successes and failures we’ve gotten to have together, like we’ve really messed things up before and you know we kind of get to mope around together as opposed to one person kind of making the other feel better, or if you have a big success we get to celebrate it together, those things are great. You know I think, generally in like a significant other relationship someone can put some item of clothing on and they look great, but then you’re looking at it from a band prospective and you’re like, ‘well, for this sort of thing I think you would look - that’s not as flattering as this other thing is’ and then you start like, ‘well, is that the couple you or the band you?’ There’s some landmines - again, this has been our whole relationship pretty much.
Last but not least, since we’re chatting about Grand and the anniversary tour, what is your favorite song from Grand to play and why?
There’s an instrumental on it called “Cinders,” which we played on and off for all these years and we used to put like a parachute over the audience while we played it like if you remember back in middle school and we say, ‘whatever happens consensually remains under the parachute,’ but maybe we should bring that back.
While Matt and Kim don’t seem to have any near future plans for the release of another album, they can be caught on tour this fall for the 10th Anniversary Tour of Grand. The dynamic duo will be making a stop November 7 at The Novo by Microsoft in Los Angeles. Check out the rest of their tour dates below!