Pensacola, Florida
Friday November 28th 2014

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Hangout Fest ’14—On A First Name Basis

By Sarah McCartan

“There’s a reason we’re called ‘Matt and Kim.’ We’re on a first name basis,” said Matt [Johnson], half of the widely known rock, pop duo, Matt and Kim.

Between Kim’s high energy drumming and notorious dance moves, and Matt’s upbeat keyboard playing and catchy vocals, the couple is not only on a first name basis with each other, but also with their fans.

While at the present, they’re no strangers to extensive tours and playing festivals across the globe, their humble beginnings include underground performances in basements and living room parties in Pensacola.

“Kim [Schifino] and I have a long history in Pensacola. We used to play shows in a friend’s living room and then go out to the beach,” Matt said. “We had never been to a gulf beach, and there was all this white sand and Kim asked, ‘Where do they import the sand from?’ ”

In September 2011, the two returned to grace the sand for a memorable DeLuna Fest performance, complete with balloons flying and Kim getting up close and personal with the audience.

This time the two are returning to the Gulf Coast for a debut performance at Hangout Festival. Although Matt and Kim have toured in support of some well-known acts, including an extensive tour with Passion Pit last year, they especially praise the festival setting.

“A lot of times people go to a show wanting to see a headliner,” Matt said. “I feel like at festivals people go open minded and want to know about new music. We take pride on being a band that you don’t have to know [beforehand]. We put on a show anyone can really enjoy.”

Despite the growth in scale Matt and Kim have experienced throughout the years, they’ve managed to keep the same spirit they started out with—a spirit that is deeply rooted in simply making party music.

“Given that our first shows in the Pensacola area were in living rooms and now we are playing festivals with Outkast and The Killers, I would say things have changed in scale quite a bit,” Matt said. “On the other hand the spirit is the same. We make music that people have fun to. That has carried on.”

The two have also been able to hold on to their DIY aesthetic and attitude to a large extent.

“We self-recorded and produced a couple of our albums, including our last one,” Matt said. “On the other hand, we have learned what it takes to exist in a larger scale. We play with a lot of large effects—make sounds that sound big and full.”

Matt and Kim’s latest full-length album, “Lightning” was released in 2012, featuring hit single “Let Go.” A year later, a follow up called “Lightning Remixes” was released.

“While we were control freaks with ‘Lightning’ and did everything ourselves, it was kind of exciting to find people who like what they do and trust and give them pieces of the song and see what comes out of it,” Matt said. “We’re fans of a lot of electronic music and dance music. I think we just want to be surprised and hear our songs in a different way.”

In addition to these most recent album releases, the two haven’t slowed down in producing videos. This added visual component is brought to life thanks to Matt’s film background and the two’s joint creative wits. Much like with their live performance, Matt and Kim aim for their videos to offer entertainment for everyone, not merely those who have come to know their music well.

“I want our videos to be ones you can enjoy even if you don’t know the song,” Matt said.

Each video begins with a simple idea, usually a single sentence. “Like, Matt and Kim take clothes off and dance in bed in underwear,” Matt said, referring to their recent “It’s Alright” video, featuring the two executing a choreographed dance in bed.

“I had the vision for that video,” he said. “But I think people were picturing a Mariah Carey video when I was telling them about it. I can’t believe I pulled off looking like I know how to dance.”

When they’re not touring or crafting fun videos, rather than focusing on piecing together their next album, the two simply keep their focus narrowed to writing songs they can stand behind and are excited about.

“We just concentrate on individual songs and then we will figure out an album,” Matt said. “We don’t want to do any filler material. We want every song to be as good as it can be.”

MATT AND KIM
Saturday, 4:45-5:45 p.m.
Chevrolet Stage