by Jenn Devereaux
Brooklyn-based Electronic-Indie Dance duo and college sweethearts Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino have been making music together for more than 10 years now. This duo is well-known for catchy songs like “Daylight” and “Let Go,” as well as their insane and energetic live performances (where Kim has been known to perilously stand atop the hands of the crowd as she twerks) and their viral music videos including the controversial “Lessons Learned” where they stripped down naked in Times Square. However, the most notable achievement for this pair is their commitment to their music and one another. They practically spend every waking moment together, although they are quick to point out that would probably be a bad idea for any other relationship. Because of their success on and off the stage, Matt and Kim are the perfect power couple to give you relationship advice. They took a quick break from touring for their new album We Were the Weirdos to fill DIME in on embarrassing facts about each other, their ideal Tinder profiles and how Google Maps is saving one relationship at a time.
JENN DEVEREAUX: How did you guys meet?
KIM SCHIFINO: So we both went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, which is an art institute there. I was sitting outside the silk screen studio with a friend, and as Matt walked past, I said, “I’m gonna &*%$ the shit out of that dude,” and then, like, a couple of weeks later, I did. <laughs>
MATT JOHNSON: You know, Kim, she’s a real go-getter. When she sets her mind to something, it happens.
KIM: I love a good challenge!
JD: When did you guys decide to make music together?
MATT: We were a couple who had been living together for about two years before we tried to do any music. Kim didn’t play drums, and I didn’t really play a keyboard at the time. She wanted to learn drums, and that’s how it happened accidentally. That’s how we sort of backwardly came into being a band.
JD: What’s the writing process like for your albums?
MATT: I’ll come up with some idea for a melody and chord progression, and Kim will say, “yeah, just play that a lot faster.” Everything with Kim needs to be faster and louder. So the last is always the lyrics for us. I feel like I put it off maybe. While I recognize the importance of lyrics, it’s really hard, at least for me. I think unlike some bands who have the main singer who writes the lyrics, Kim and I write the lyrics very much together. The process is really good because I would never finish a song if I wasn’t working with Kim. I very much dwell on everything and pick at everything, and Kim is just like, “Get it done, get it done now. Let’s just finish it.” On the other hand, I feel like maybe there would be a little quality control issue if it was only Kim at the helm because there wouldn’t be anyone going over the details. I think we are a nice little balance.
JD: What would the both of you be doing if you weren’t making music?
KIM: I would hope to be making art, I guess.
JD: I love your art on your @KimMakesShit Instagram account.
KIM: Oh, thank you! Yeah, Matt convinced me to do that Instagram account, and it’s kind of forced me to make art. It’s funny because I think like six years ago we were on tour, and I was filling the tank with gas. Matt got out of the van, and I just said, “Matt, we can’t fuck this up because I don’t really know what else I would do.” <laughs>
MATT: I went to school for film, and I have an inherent love for the visual medium as well. I’ve been very involved with all of the music videos we’ve made, so I feel like in some capacity maybe I would make TV commercials.
JD: What’s the best thing about touring with your significant other?
KIM: It’s awesome! I get laid every night.
MATT: Every night might be pushing it. I’m only one man here. I’m only human. <laughs> For us, it works out really well because if we had spent all the time on the road that we have in the past 10 years and one of us was not on the road, it probably would have been really hard to keep a functional relationship going. On the other hand, most couples who spend half as much time together as me and Kim would totally murder each other. For some reason, it works for us. I don’t know if it would work for everyone.
JD: Describe your ideal date night.
MATT: We’re fans of the type of movie theater where you can order alcoholic drinks and food inside. That’s always fun.
KIM: Or you bring your own and secretly open it. <laughs>
MATT: To me even staying in, especially if we have been on the road for a long time…
KIM: It’s so weird that what other couples would consider an ordinary night — like making dinner and watching TV — how nice that is for us to do because on the road it’s really hard to do that. Even eating at home becomes a luxury because we eat out three meals a day while we are on the road for like six weeks at a time.
MATT: Yeah, I’m so sick of eating out. I’m just bored of eating at restaurants. It’s funny because growing up only on special occasions did we ever as a family go to a restaurant. I think most people who live in a city, especially New York City, eat out a lot anyway, but when you are on the road and you have no other options, it’s just like a chore. I prefer to just order in food.
JD: What’s a serious side of you that people are unlikely to know about?
MATT: A serious side? Let me think on that. I think that our songs, generally people think of them as upbeat and happy, but there is a darker underside to the lyrical content — even if I look at this past year when we put out a song called Please No More, which was basically after another shooting happened. The song is about how I can’t wake up to any more bad news. It weighs too much. I don’t know if that is any sort of secret heavier side, but I do think it doesn’t come up in our music a lot for people. They always turn to us for that happier music. I don’t think it really all is [happy] when you listen to it.
JD: Name one embarrassing fact about each other
KIM: I don’t know if I’m embarrassed by anything.
MATT: You’re not embarrassed by anything?
KIM: I don’t know. I guess we are such an open book that it’s hard to think of something embarrassing that we haven’t done on stage. We embarrass ourselves on stage all the time.
MATT: Yeah, I guess we aren’t very hidden and secretive.
KIM: I’ll say maybe this was slightly embarrassing, but I think I totally pulled it off. There was one show maybe two years ago, and it was at the beginning of our set. Our intro music comes on. I’m running out on stage, and I tripped on a riser and flipped over it, but it was dark. Then the lights kick in as I’m upside down on the floor with my legs in the air. I somehow did a crazy tuck and roll out of it and, like, jumped up. But there was a photographer who caught a shot where right as the lights were kicking on, you see a riser and then you see two legs coming up from under it. It was hilarious. <laughs>
MATT: When I think of embarrassing things for Kim, it’s, like, when her Rhode Island accent comes out (which she tries really hard to push down). The Rhode Island accent, if you’re not familiar with it, is a very strange accent. It’s maybe a little similar to a Boston accent in some ways. Like, the thing you would flip over a pancake with, to Kim, would be a “spatuler” rather than a spatula.
KIM: I feel like I said a “bubbler” to someone the other day, and they were like, “what?” and I was like, “I mean water fountain.” <laughs>
MATT: That’s not really an accent as much as it is terminology.
JD: If you could make a tinder profile for each other, what would the bios say?
KIM: We wanted to do a Tinder one together! We kind of blew it and we didn’t do it but that would have been great. I guess that would have been Grindr… no, wait not Grindr. What’s the threesome one?
KIM: Yeah, Thrinder.
MATT: We just want to be where the people are, just, you know, connecting to them.
KIM: Mine would say, “nothing but net.”
MATT: Nothing but net? I dig it. Would it have little emojis of like basketballs?
MATT: Mine would say, “go easy on me.”
KIM: <laughs> Aww!
JD: I feel like for Tinder profile pictures, you have to have some sort of exotic animal in the picture with you.
MATT: That’s so true. When you scroll past it, you’re like “What the fuck?”
KIM: Wait, so can I do just a vag shot on Tinder? Like, can you straight up, like, no face, just a vajayjay picture? I mean, getting right to the point…
MATT: Is that the exotic animal? <laughs> I do have a picture of me standing in B-Boy stance with a kangaroo from Australia.
KIM: See, now we’ve just got to set up a Tinder profile for you.
MATT: Yeah, I mean c’mon, we’re halfway there.
JD: What are some requirements that you guys think a Power Couple should have?
MATT: Obviously when we think of a power couple…
KIM: I mean, the King and Queen, right?
MATT: Yeah, Beyonce and Jay-Z. I guess because they are both very successful in their own right. I mean, Kim, do you feel the Lemonade album was just a ruse because there wasn’t that sort of drama actually in their relationship?
KIM: Oh, yeah, totally.
MATT: Because you want to know that they love each other. Like you wouldn’t consider… who is Whitney Houston’s husband?
KIM: Bobby Brown?
MATT: Yeah. Well, they were both successful, but you wouldn’t consider them a power couple because of the inherent problems in the relationship.
KIM: I think a power couple is two people who work well together creatively and in a business sense, just fucking killing it at life.
JD: What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to other couples out there?
MATT: It’s funny. I feel very lucky because there is a lot of issues that other couples have that we don’t necessarily have… meaning that we are on the same page about a lot of things and we agree on a lot of things. That’s how we ended up doing this band together. We were already seeing eye to eye on stuff. And maybe the challenge works well for other couples, but I do think that not dwelling on stuff is always the best. Just let things go. I’m very lucky because I won’t do something or I will do something. Like, if Kim asks me to take care of something, and I don’t do it, she doesn’t hold it against me. She might just ask me again. The whole communication thing is very important.
KIM: I think that’s the most important thing. You can’t hold things in. If something is bothering you, you bring it up because most likely the person who is bothering you doesn’t realize what they are doing is affecting you, and it could be squashed so much quicker than letting it build up inside.
MATT: I think we all need to take one step back and give a thank you to Google Maps because not getting lost while in a car is really the best thing you could ever do for a couple. There were so many more fights when people were just lost in a car all the time.
JD: What did we do before Google Maps? I don’t even remember!
KIM: Let me tell you — when Matt and I first starting touring, pre-smartphones, we printed out a binder filled with Mapquest directions, and if you went off course for a second, you were fucked!
MATT: I remember when we first got a GPS, I swore it just worked on magic. And all of a sudden our tour woes went way down. But now everyone has it right there in their pockets. So, I think all of the things about couples have been fixed, and we’re all going to be ok