We at PSXE always like to seek out unique and intriguing interviews, so when we were approached by EA's new Artwerk studio to chat with one of their new additions, we quickly agreed. For those of you who are unaware, Artwerk is out to nab plenty of fresh talent for the sake of future video game music; you may recall our interview with Bang Camaro. Well, another group has just signed on; EA calls them a "main priority band", and you're lookin' at 'em: Matt & Kim.
For these two, perhaps the words "spontaneity" and "creativity" would be most suitable. Before we get started, we suggest checking out their Daylight music video ; it's a catchy and refreshing beat, and part of what they like to call "dance/punk." We'll provide you with more links to their material at the end of the interview, but in the meantime, let's see what Matt has to say in response to our questions.
PSXE: Could you provide us with a little background? How did you two get started?
"Kim and I met at college at Pratt [Pratt Institute] art school in Brooklyn. We were together and dating for three years before we even started playing music. Doing that was a total accident; she was given a drum set that she had never played and I found this really cool keyboard, which I hadn't ever played (but I did play guitar and bass in previous bands). We figured it'd be more fun to learn them together.
A friend of ours who has a band asked us to play a show with them, and we weren't even a band! But it worked out, and then we started to work on like three songs. We wanted to come up with a name for ourselves but we couldn't, so just our first names stuck. Either we did really well [in our performances] or we just have very nice friends, but we got a really positive response and all we were was a little basement band. I just love the spontaneity of everything, and seeing everyone at all the venues we play at."
PSXE: Your sound is really unique; how would you define your music? What genre might it fall into?
"We struggled with that genre thing for a while and we finally landed on 'dance/punk.' We've actually been lucky to not get pinned into playing one style of music, because we've been able to play with all sorts of bands at all sorts of shows. Anywhere people are willing to go and get crazy and have fun; that's where we are. We were in Toronto last week and I was just walking around looking at this crazy venue we were playing at, and some people came up and said they had come from like ten hours away (or more) to come see us!
But we're really just about being ourselves. We're the two people you see; we're Matt & Kim, and we just like to interact with the audience when we're playing."
PSXE: How did EA's Artwerk studio discover you?
"I think there was an inherent connection through our manager and the people who work at EA, and we're really into doing things that aren't like the most conventional methods. Our label is Fader [Fader Label] and their record side is actually really small, but we were just looking for help on the publishing side. We heard about these people at EA who are into all kinds of new media forms and forward-thinking, and that was a completely different thing. Coming at things from a whole new direction perks our ears up the most.
So we went to EA in LA and we actually went to this weird secret floor and it seemed like they were making this military game of some kind; there was even a big elaborate layout in the middle of the room for what I think must've been one of the levels in the game. Then we got to visit the audio and sound booth."
PSXE: Are you gamers yourselves and if so, what games do you like to play?
"Well, gaming gets put into certain categories; there are your intense gamers and then you have the casual gamers, like Wii gaming. That's like what we're into because we like lighthearted and fun stuff. But I grew up skateboarding and BMXing so I'm also really into those kinds of games, too. I remember the first time I played a Tony Hawk game and I was thinking, 'this is what I wanted as a kid!'
I've tried the Guitar Hero and Rock Band; we were at MTV and they had it [Rock Band] set up in the conference room and I was complaining they didn't have a keyboard in the game. And I know it's not really a rock and roll instrument – I know because I've ruined some by spilling food and stuff on them – but I'm trying to bring the keyboard into rock. In Guitar Hero, I've been quite the loser; people would just shred me."
PSXE: Do you see music becoming more of a driving force in games in the future?
"Well, I know I've played Grand Theft Auto and you get these songs you hear all the time when you play. And I guess the selection is growing but you hear the same songs many, many times, so you can't just put a mediocre song into that position. It has to be a song people will want to listen to again and again; it has to be something people are going to enjoy. It's just such a mood-setter like in film because the right song can set the right tone and everything. With video games, being inside of them is an even greater experience so it's even more important to find the right song that fits the game perfectly.
When we were at EA, the amount of tracks they were running for just one gunshot in the game was amazing; they actually went out and sampled like 27 different gunshots from different places in like the city and desert. This is the kind of stuff they add to make the experience feel whole. [Music] has been around for a long time and it has always been so important in entertainment, and with video games being the way they are, it's even more important. Now it has the supervision of real music people lining up like hundreds of songs for a game, then picking it apart and finding the appropriate ones."
PSXE: What are people's reactions when you tell them you'll be contributing music to video games?
"The doors are just opening into this right now so it's not much of a reality to us yet, but it's something new to a lot of musical acts. If they don't know video games and where they're at in the market, and the whole lifestyle and everything, they won't understand. I think initially some of my friends will be like, 'what?' They're trying to picture Super Mario with Matt & Kim and they're not getting that. But in the physical way, the income these games make is incredible; you can't deny it because it's so substantial.
There's some life to our music and all real music. It's not just having the music made in a studio, and when we were at the EA office, we saw the amount of work that goes into producing the whole experience. It's not just a coincidence that so many people would like a game like that because they're [the developers] are putting so much effort into it. Just seeing what they were doing in the audio and editing process and all of that…it makes all the difference."
We'd like to thank the duo of Matt & Kim for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you're wondering what game it was that they saw at EA (that military-based game), well…we aren't going to venture a guess, but we're sure you will. Look for Matt & Kim's music to appear in more than a few EA titles this year, although the publisher hasn't revealed the specific names of the games in question. For our part, we always have fun talking about the growing role of music in video games, and this quirky tandem could add some definite flair and original panache to just about any game. Big-budget game productions also includes new advances in the realm of music and sound, which is why EA Artwerk is scanning about, checking out the up-and-coming talent.