Matt and Kim: Bubblegum Apocalypse

Text by Matthew Nestel
Photograph by Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor

A Sunday afternoon at a loft space in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, delivers a cluster of brownbaggers nursing tall boy Colt 45s and DIYers ready to dance to a Matt and Kim set. It’s a tame bunch compared to the norm of gigs bordering on Armageddon. Kids hoard to Matt and Kim shows to crowd-surf and be taken so strongly by the muse that they manage to scale the ceiling.

There is something impressionably giddy about the twosome’s music. She plays drums. He plays keyboard and sings. Late-night whispering practice sessions in their old apartment allowed the two to tinker with terrycloth silencers and discover tracks along the way. “We worked hard at getting our instruments to the point they are at, which still needs tons of work,” says Kim.

Matt Johnson left his tiny-ass town between three cow pastures of Jacksonville, Vermont, for art school in Brooklyn. During his second year he met illustration graduate Kim Schifino from Providence, Rhode Island.
It was not long until the pair established an uncanny following on the domestic front. Off-tour, the two make art installations and redesign their slimfast railroad apartment. One of Kim’s remodeling to-dos lyrically reads: “Fix the space inside the gap.”

Recently, Matt and Kim took their stuff to Los Angeles to cut their first official record debuting this summer on iHeartcomix label, and in so doing they were courted by Hollywood fixtures: lunches, meetings, managers.
Celebrities and Capital Records’ bands who sifted throughout the 2,000 or so in attendance were quite the contrast to the punk houses and basements Matt and Kim played days before. “Most of the time I looked at Kim,” says Matt. “That’s my safe place to look. That’s the most comfortable place to look. I saw all these people who were talking before were no longer talking. They were looking up and they were smiling.”

This rudimentary combo of keyboards and percussion weaves an articulate tapestry that can match any philharmonic – no need to wait for the finish of the performance to doff your hat. At a Matt and Kim show you can ricochet off walls, lick your knee, kiss a bystander’s lint off their shirt. It’s as close to second-grade bliss as you’re gonna get minus the reprimand for nonchalance.