“We cut the legs off of our pants
threw our shoes into the ocean
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sit back and wave through the daylight
sit back and wave through the daylight
Slip and slide on subway grates
these shoes are poor mans ice skates
fall through like change in the daylight
fall through like change in the daylight”
— Matt & Kim, “Daylight”
On Tuesday, Matt Johnson from Matt & Kim left his keyboard on stage, jumped over the barriers that kept students from mobbing the artists and hung out. Johnson posed for pictures and chatted with students, some of whom were on the verge of hyperventilating. scene got Matt’s digits and called him Wednesday to talk about performing at Yale, songwriting and the other Spring Fling acts.
Q. How was playing at Yale?
A. It was really fun. It was rainy sort of earlier, and we were like, “Oh man, outdoor show in the rain, it’s going to be a bust or whatever.” And then the clouds parted, and the sun shined through.
Q. What did you think about the Yale crowd and the students listening to the music? Was it similar to other crowds you’ve played for? Different?
A. It achieved our ultimate goal, which is: people danced. For us being up there, the best way to tell if people are into it is to tell if you can see if they are moving or whatever. Yale definitely got down. I saw super muddy people afterwards because it ended up being this mud pit right in the front.
Q. You stayed around for the entire concert?
A. I didn’t see the dude who played right after us, but then I came back and saw Ying-Yang Twins — and I saw MGMT’s set.
Q. What did you think of the other acts?
A. I thought Ying-Yang Twins killed it. They were awesome. It’s so funny they can play all sorts of other people’s songs and stuff and, I don’t know, everyone was just having super fun. I know there was sort of controversy in the beginning about their lyrical content and stuff like that, and obviously there is some stuff to the verge of offensive. But I think in the end, it’s about having fun, and that’s what I look for in shows I see. Then with MGMT, I loved “Oracular Spectacular,” their first album. I love the combination of the bands put on the show, but to have them come on after Ying-Yang Twins, which was a much more high-energy thing — I expect to the students drinking and stuff all day it seemed sort of mellow, which is what they do, I guess. Their “Kids” performance at the end was pretty phoned in. I don’t know. I wanted more. That was all.
Q. Did you hear about the controversy surrounding the Ying-Yang Twins coming? What did you think about that and the student reaction to the Ying-Yang Twins?
A. I don’t have enough hours of my day to be super PC. I listen to so much hip-hop. Kim grew up with her brother spinning booty house, which makes Ying-Yang Twins songs sound like they were written for preschoolers. I guess it’s kind of what you are accustomed to and what not. I think people who do listen to Ying-Yang Twins and music of that variety know to take it with a grain of salt. Personally, I don’t take offense to anything like that. Not that I’m going to write lyrical content like that, but I don’t have time in the day to let that ruin having fun, which was in the end all their stuff was about. I watched the crowd during their set, and their crowd seemed to have a great time. Say what you will, feel what you will, but I won’t be mad about it.
Q. What is your philosophy when performing? You interspersed your songs with some standard dance tunes.
A. You just like hearing stuff you recognize. When bands play, you like to hear their songs that you know and then to throw in some other recognizable bits and things like that. I think some bands take themselves really seriously and are like, “Well, I’m not going to do an interlude cover of Gary Glitter’s ‘The Hey Song.’ ” [He sings a couple of bars.] While we take what we do very seriously, we don’t take ourselves that seriously, or the band. We just do whatever we think would be fun.
Q. When did you get to New Haven? Did you get to experience the city or the University at all?
A. We left at 10 at night Monday night. That was because we had a load-in at 11:30 in the morning, and I really didn’t want to have to wake up at 8 o’clock. I didn’t get to see anything more than walking around the campus, and I’d been to the campus over a decade ago for my cousin’s graduation who went there. I had these bizarre faint memories, these weird childhood memories that are kind of ghost-like. I didn’t get to see New Haven at all, but the Yale campus is really beautiful. I went to Pratt, which is an art school in Brooklyn, one of the few New York City schools that has a campus, which is an old shoe factory, part of it, and it doesn’t have the castle-esque qualities of Yale.
Q. Did you guys leave right after the show or did you get to experience the Yale social scene at all?
A. The second MGMT’s set finished, the van was already running, and I hopped in and we headed back to New York. We were pretty exhausted. It seemed like people were ready to have fun afterwards.
Q. Your songs seem very fun — what do you guys look for when you are writing a song? What do you try to put into a song?
A. While we do write quite upbeat songs melodically and beat-wise and rhythmically and whatnot, we do tend to have a little bit of a darker undertone lyrically. We kind of like to weigh those things against each other. You don’t want to write an upbeat song and have it about lollipops and kittens and stuff like that. So I’ll write an upbeat song, but a lot of songs from our old album were about figuring your life out. They just have a certain nostalgic quality. We try not to make it so it’s only about one thing. Different songs can mean different things to different people. Essentially, we really want to have a beat you can bob your head to and a melody you can hum along to.