Matt and Kim: the crowd brings it

Photo by Matt Miller
Photo by Matt Miller

Brooklyn party-poppers Matt and Kim have been whipping crowds into sweaty, smiling, dancing frenzies since debuting with their self-titled album in 2006. Flash forward nine years, and they’ve graduated to festival-sized audiences; they’ve blown up their infectious drum-and-keys-based sound with hip hop bombast and coated it with anthemic gloss. Last April, the duo released their fifth album, New Glow, and on September 5th, the band will headline the Richmond World Festival. Vancouver Weekly caught up with drummer/singer Kim Schifino to discuss their upcoming video for “Can You Blame Me”  (which will be culled from fan-submitted footage), playing to large crowds, and more.

Vancouver Weekly: You’ve always been known for your creative videos, but for New Glow cut “Can You Blame Me”, you turned to your fans for input. (Yet you still couldn’t help but make your own version as your submissions call.) Did you or Matt come up with the idea to make a collaborative video?

Kim Schifino: Matt came up with the idea for this video. He has come up with most of the video ideas we have done. I really like the collaborative aspect of this video because it reminds me of the feel of our shows. When we perform it isn’t about us. It is about everyone who is at the show and the energy created when we all go crazy. I feel like that is what “Can You Blame Me” will feel like when it is complete. We have received a lot of great submissions. We will keep collecting submissions ’til mid-September and then edit them together. So if you are reading this and you have a crazy idea, you better start filming it now!!!

VW: Your lyric video for “Get It” highlights some of your biggest festival moments. The crowds are huge, and they’re charged! Do you have a preference for small or large crowds? Do you find it more difficult to whip up a large group of people, or to at least maintain their excitement?

KS: We are lucky that we can go from venue shows to festival shows. Again, it is all about the energy the crowd brings, so sometimes a 3,000-person venue can feel even crazier than a 40,000-person festival. I will say this last year though has been on fire. Each time we come through a town, whether it’s a festival or our own headline show, the crowd is bringing it.

VW: Your recent spring tour was your biggest and fastest selling tour yet. Did you ever imagine that the band, being a two-piece, could become such a large festival act? Have you ever felt compelled to (as so many bands do) add members to your live line-up?

KS: I don’t think it matters if you are a five-person band, two-person [band], or solo act. It is about what you give to the show. Matt and I work well together, and I don’t think it would feel right adding anyone. Well, we once did a show and had a 40-person marching band come out and play with us… but yeah, adding one other person… I mean, I am all for a threesome, but maybe not onstage.

VW: The Richmond World Festival seems like a bit of an unconventional bill for a mainstream band such as yourself to play. It’ll offer the usual festival fare: food trucks, all-ages activities, and music (obviously). But it’s also going to feature a culinary stage, include sports, and largely focus on multiculturalism. Do you play many events that are so diverse? Have you reached a point where it’s important for you to seek out events like the Richmond World Festival, or have you always sought them out?

KS: We didn’t get to hit up the Vancouver area on our headline tour, and we really wanted to get up there before the end of the year. I was excited that they asked us to come play. I like the fact that it is so diverse and also the fact it is free. Cities need more events like this.

Admission to the Richmond World Festival is free. For event hours and location, visit the festival’s info page.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu