Hosting dance parties at their concerts since 2005, indie pop duo Matt & Kim started out as performing nothing more than small shows around miscellaneous venues in Brooklyn before breaking out with their first self-titled album, Matt & Kim. The two continue to infuse a mix of dance pop and top 40 hip hop hits into their work, creating a musical adrenaline rush that remains a trademark in their performances and recordings. Now on tour for their fourth album, “Lightning,” released on Oct. 2, the couple will make their stop in Los Angeles on Oct. 25 at the Wiltern. Daily Bruin’s Lynn Chu got the chance to talk to Matt Johnson from Matt & Kim about his experiences in Los Angeles, working on their newest album, “Lightning,” and dealing with the fast-paced life of touring.
Daily Bruin: Do you remember what your first college concert was?
Matt Johnson: For me, it was “Stand Against Me,” whom I was obsessed with. They had this aesthetic that (Matt & Kim) holds too. They went out and jumped around and got wild too. It wasn’t (a concert where you) stared at your feet or overanalyzed things. And it’s funny (because) one of the first tours we did was touring with them.
DB: You guys have been on tour multiple times. What do you love about returning to a city that you have already performed in?
MJ: I don’t know what it is, but there’s some closeness we’ve had (with Los Angeles). I remember the first time we came through the area and we actually went to (perform at this venue called) the Smell ““ and the Smell is not a nice smell but a great venue. ,,, It (had) a warehouse vibe and (was) not nice in any conventional word. I remember there’s a large homeless population and people get their cars broken into regularly. I do remember I was (approached) as I was standing outside (by someone who said), “Hey, would you give me a dollar if I could tell you where you get those shoes?” And I said, “Sure!” (and I) ended up giving him a dollar. It just had a similar feel to Brooklyn, so it felt familiar.
DB: You guys mention that life on the road doesn’t really allow for you guys to actually travel and appreciate the places you’ve been to. What is something you guys have always wanted to see in Los Angeles?
MJ: Well I think we’ve been in Los Angeles and spent some time there. I’ve always been a fan of Southern California and I’ve always convinced Kim to move there. Like for my birthday, we actually got a house out at Griffith and we just went hiking.
DB: In terms of development, a lot of people have been saying the lyrics for “Lightning” are more structured with meaning this time around as opposed to the fun bits and pieces that you guys stringed together for earlier albums. Even with the single, “Let Go,” you talk a little bit about your life before Matt & Kim. What other aspects of your life have you guys incorporated?
MJ: Well I think the songs are always rooted with what’s (going on) with us at the moment. … This last year was a lot of work and I think there was letting some frustration out of just being really exhausted. I mean, we love playing music, and we love doing shows. There’s also a lot of other stuff going on, so I think there’s letting that out.
DB: You guys also mentioned that this album had less production and was more focused on what you two wanted to work on. What triggered this decision as opposed to sticking with the collaborations you guys have done in the past?
MJ: Kim and I are very picky about everything to the point where we can annoy the people around us. We, sort of in a way, know what we want. (When) our last album was producing, I think it was a little bit of head butting. … At the end we were happy, but actually working on it, it was kind of difficult. (For) our second album, “Grand,” (when we got to work independently), we ended just liking the freedom of what we created. This (album) was just the two of us, and there wasn’t as much resistance, so the process was simpler.
DB: With touring, what’s your biggest motivation before getting on stage to create this over-the-top atmosphere?
MJ: I mean, writing songs is what I’ve always loved to do since I was 14 years old ““ I never thought I could making a living off of it. I went to school for film, but even if I was making film, I would still make music. As far as shows, it’s also a remedy.
As tired as I could be, you get up on stage in front of a couple thousand people, they’re excited about the music that you made and you can’t help but be excited. It’s infectious.
Email Chu at [email protected] .