In conversation with Kim Schifino of Matt and Kim

The drummer of the indie-pop duo talks recovery, returning to the road and upcoming album

ae-MattandKim2-CourtesyWikimedia

Kim Schifino's band Matt and Kim will perform at The Jefferson Theater March 24.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For indie-wannabe kids who came of age during the late aughts and early 2010s, the name Matt and Kim might conjure up a sudden rush of nostalgia. The duo, vocalist and keyboardist Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino, have been known for their intoxicatingly cheery, electronica-flavored pop tunes and equally energetic stage performances for almost a decade. Even when listening in 2018, the syncopated beats of their 2009 single “Daylight” still feel like the sonic equivalent of sunshine. 

But if it feels like Matt and Kim have fallen off your musical radar lately, there’s good reason — after Schifino tore her ACL while performing in Mexico in 2017, the band took a year off from touring. They used her recovery time to create “Almost Everyday,” — an album due out in May that’s filled with their most intensely personal and vulnerable work yet — and will be stopping at Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater March 24 for the second stop on their first tour since the hiatus.

The Cavalier Daily’s Arts and Entertainment section recently got the chance to chat via email with Schifino about the duo’s evolving artistry, the newfound vulnerability of their upcoming album “Almost Everyday” and what it feels like to be back on tour.

Arts and Entertainment: Your songs are so notable for their energy and unforgettable exuberance — I remember hearing “Daylight” and “Lessons Learned” for the first time in high school, and I still associate them with that boundless, painfully earnest longing to take in the whole world that comes with being a teenager. So, listening to your newest work feels like growing up all over again. How would you say your work has evolved or matured in the nine years since releasing “Grand” to “Almost Everyday?”

Kim Schifino: I am stoked that you feel like it is growing … I think we would get pretty bored if we were writing the same songs over and over again. Our songs come out of what we have been doing and living.

AE: You wrote the songs for “Almost Everyday” in the wake of Kim’s ACL injury, and so far, this album seems a little more vulnerable and emotionally explicit than your previous work. Was that your intention going in when you first began crafting the album? 

On that note, the chorus of your single “Forever” features the lines “don’t want to live forever / in this world of s—t” — while the song is still unmistakably driven and upbeat in the way your work always is, it also seems to speak more urgently to the kind of anxiety and political uncertainty of American culture right now. What’d you have in mind when you wrote those lyrics? 

KS: This last year was an intense year for us personally and, well, just all the s—t that has been going on in the world seemed to be magnified in 2017. This definitely made its way into our music. The personal side was me getting injured on stage and having to put a halt to our life. We have been so lucky that for so many years we put out an album and then tour … We do that over and over again. So when I tore my ACL and meniscus, we weren’t expecting that change … I am a very active person and definitely do not like sitting still so this pause in our life affected me tremendously.  I also got super depressed during the beginning of the recovery. This was also when we thought we would start writing the album because what else do you do when you are stuck in bed?

So I guess you can say that some of the darker material in the album is based on that but also on the climate of the world right now. What we write is very honest to how we live and we couldn’t pretend that everything was okay. It actually became very therapeutic to get it out and into our music.  In "Forever," we do write about not living in the world of s—t in the chorus, but the verses are very optimistic and about coming together to overcome all that s—t! You know we are still Matt and Kim, and while it’s dark, we will figure out a way to get through all this s—t together.

AE: How does it feel performing on a national tour after a yearlong break? Did you feel like you found any new challenges or breakthroughs on returning to the road? 

KS: I am so excited to get back on the road again.  Because of this injury, it was the longest amount of time we’ve taken off from touring. I f—king love to tour and bang away at the drums. I think because we were touring so much that felt more like normal life than being at home. I told Matt that I just want to go back to waking up not in my own bed! Ha, that sounds kinda scandalous. Let’s say not waking up in my own bed with Matt still right by my side!  

AE: Lastly, what artists are you listening to right now? Are there any artists — musical or otherwise — that have influenced your writing and performing lately?

KS: As far as what we are listening to … I listen to a lot of hip hop or punk … anything that has energy. I don’t do slow … I always listen to Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” right before I go on stage. This has been one of my superstitious things I do before hopping on stage. 

And while I was in physical therapy, I had to get the bend back in my knee. So everyday my therapist would have me lay on my stomach and crank my ankle towards my butt. This was absolutely so painful. So after about a week of this I realized I just needed “Dreams and Nightmares playing while she did it. It still hurt like crazy, but it got me in that head space and reminded me that I just needed to get through this and then I can get back on stage and do what I love!  

Matt and Kim will play at The Jefferson Theater on March 24 alongside Cruisr and Twinkids.

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