Matt & Kim are bursting with energy. The dance-pop duo, who has been performing together since 2006, has a reputation for upbeat, DIY-style tunes that encourage listeners to bust a few moves and add a little party to their life. On Saturday, they’re bringing these good vibes to Freakfest.
“We have one foot in the dance world and one over in the indie world. We’re big fans of dance music, any music you want to get wild to,” singer Matt Johnson said. Their music—spread over four albums, an EP and the recently released Lightning Remixes—is exactly that: music to lose control to.
Losing control is something Matt & Kim are looking to explore. Although they let loose at shows, they are self-described “control freaks.” Their latest release is a remix album that is all about stepping back and not being able to control every aspect of the music.
“It’s nice just to give away all control to somebody else and see what comes out of it,” Johnson said. This ranges from classical to reggae and back to the “Matt & Kim sound,” featuring Bonde Do Role, DJ Venom and Druids, among others.
The process of collaboration seems to have stuck with them. Although they’re finishing out the Lightning Tour, they are already talking of creating new music and exploring a new sound.
“I think we’re ready to switch things up a bit,” Johnson said. “I felt with our album Lightning, we sort of closed a chapter that we had been waiting to close. As control freaks who did everything ourselves, the next step is looking to work with different producers and DJs and stuff like that. We want to get other people’s opinions and other people’s input and see what happens.”
Matt & Kim might be experimenting, but they’re staying true to their dance-party vibe—not just on their albums or onstage but backstage as well. Johnson described band partner Kim Schifino’s warm-up process as “a little bit different.”
“She puts on Beyoncé and shakes her ass in the back room for like half an hour,” he said. Hey, we can relate. And we’d better, because a Matt & Kim show is about the audience as well.
“We have an energetic show. We’re not two people. We are 5,000 or whatever and two people,” he said.
The group is coming to town this Saturday for Freakfest, come hell or high water. One of Johnson’s favorite stories to tell is how they outran a tornado to get to a show. While on the road in 2006, a normal summer day turned sour.
“The radio was saying if you’re driving you need to pull over, you need to seek shelter, even lay in a ditch, get out of your car, stay low,” Johnson said. “And we’re like, ‘Screw that.’ We started driving as fast as we could. Somehow we pushed through the storm and the sun starts shining and we arrived to the town right in time for the show. I dunno if people should outrun tornadoes, but we totally outran a tornado in a ’96 astro van.”
With a group willing to challenge natural disasters to make a show, it’s only good manners for Badgers to be in top Madtown spirit this Saturday for Matt & Kim’s performance. Johnson is certainly ready. Upon hearing Freakfest’s reputation for craziness, he said: “Yes! Perfect! If the audience is ready to bring the energy and ready to get weird, that’s what I’m excited for. You just have to expect the party.”
No problem there.