Matt Johnson is originally from Whitingham, Vermont while Kim Schifino is originally from Providence, Rhode Island. They met while studying at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute. Schifino studied illustration and graduated in 2002, while Johnson studied film and graduated in 2004. The two began dating and moved in together after 3 months. After graduation, Johnson began learning to play keyboards and Schifino learned drums. Neither had had extensive experience with their instruments prior to this. Despite their inexperience, they were urged to play live shows by fellow Pratt alumni from the band, Japanther. Their early shows were primarily played at houses and lofts in the Brooklyn area, but they soon branched out and began touring across the nation. In 2005, they released an EP entitled, To/From, which was the their first collection of music committed to an album of any kind.
The duo's first full-length studio album, Matt & Kim, was released in October 2006 on the Iheartcomix record label. The album received generally mixed to positive reviews. Adam Moerder of Pitchfork referred to the duo as the "quintessential 'party' band" in a review of their self-titled debut album. Matt and Kim also gained significant publicity for their music videos. The video for "Yea Yeah," which depicts the pair being hit with food from their refrigerator, has been considered one of the initial catalysts for their rise in popularity. They played the Lollapalooza festival in August 2007 and also played the Siren Music Festival earlier that year.
By 2008, the band had completed their second full-length album (Grand) and was looking for a record label to sign them.
Matt and Kim were signed to the Fader Label in late 2008, and Grand was released on January 20, 2009. The duo went on a 3-week North American tour in November 2008 to promote the album. Grand was recorded entirely in Johnson's childhood bedroom in Vermont and Lollapalooza. and is named after the street the two lived on in Brooklyn. The album took around 9 months to complete. The lead single from the album, "Daylight," received certified gold status from the RIAA. The song was also featured in numerous commercials for brands including Mars Bars and Bacardi. Additionally, "Daylight" was featured in TV shows comprising Community, and a De La Soul amongst others-remixed version of the song could be found on video games such as NBA Live 2010. and EA Sports game, FIFA 10. The duo also performed the song on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
In April 2009, the band released the controversial music video for the song "Lessons Learned." The video depicts the two completely disrobing in New York City's Times Square and is shot in a single take. The video was filmed during winter on a cold day. The video would later go on to win the Breakthrough Video Award at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Also in 2009, the duo performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival and the Outside Lands Festival. They toured with punk band Against Me! in 2009 as well. The following year, they embarked on an even more ambitious touring schedule throughout North America. They played the Coachella Festival in April, the Siren Festival in July, Lollapalooza in August, and Austin City Limits in October. They also engaged in a two-month nationwide tour from September to November.
They released their third studio album, Sidewalks, in November 2010 on the Fader Label. This was the duo's first album to not be self-produced. Instead, Ben Allen, who had previously produced albums for Gnarls Barkley and Animal Collective, was one of the co-producers. Sidewalks peaked at number 30 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2011, they continued touring heavily with shows in North America, Europe, and at the Australian festival, Big Day Out. They also supported Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance during select dates on the 2011 Honda Civic Tour.
Their music video for the song "Cameras" was released in 2011 and features Schifino and Johnson engaged in a professionally choreographed fight. When comparing the budget for the "Cameras" video against the one for "Lessons Learned," Johnson noted, "We spent 10 times as much money to make this happen." They hired choreographers who had worked on films like The Matrix and The Bourne Identity. The duo also performed "Block After Block" on a 2011 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
The duo released their fourth studio album, Lightning, on the Fader Label in October 2012. The album took about six months to create and was self-produced in the pair's Brooklyn apartment. They chose not to enlist the services of a professional producer because they wanted the album to have a distinct, "Matt and Kim" sound. The duo embarked on a nearly two-month Fall tour to promote the album in the United States. The lead single on the album, "Let's Go," was introduced in the summer of 2012 via a YouTube video of basketball player, Pat the Roc, exhibiting his dribbling skills. The real music video for the single premiered on Funny or Die shortly after the release of the album and depicts the duo in a variety of uncomfortable or awkward portraits. The band also produced a video for the single, "It's Alright," which depicts the tandem blindfolded in bed performing choreographed dance moves.
In February and March 2013, Matt and Kim toured the US with Passion Pit. Over the course of the year, they played numerous festivals, including the Free Press Summer Fest, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Firefly Music Festival, and Lollapalooza in front of a large crowd. They continued touring in April 2014 at festivals like BottleRock Napa Valley, the Silopanna Music Festival, and the Hangout Music Festival.
The duo's fifth studio album, New Glow, was released on April 7, 2015 by Harvest Records in the United States and Virgin EMI Records internationally. They premiered the lead single from the album, "Get It," with an accompanying lyric video in January 2015. In February 2015, Matt and Kim released three more singles for the album, "Hey Now," "Hoodie On," and "Can You Blame Me."
The band toured extensively upon the release of New Glow, commencing with a U.S. tour in April and May 2015, then heading to London for a one-off at Heaven. More US and Canadian festivals followed throughout the summer. They returned to the UK for an arena tour supporting Fall Out Boy, including two nights at Wembley Arena and finished out the year in the US doing festivals, college shows and radio events. The band performed at Coachella as a main stage highlight in April 2016.
Matt and Kim's music has often been described as dance-pop with pop-punk and hip-hop influences. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Johnson even noted, "We considered what made the Matt and Kim sound to be our mutual love for pop-punk and hip-hop, breaking down the beat and melodies the way hip-hop does, and adding in the energy and poppiness of pop-punk." Johnson and Schifino also share a mutual love for the music of Beyoncé and Jay Z. The music has also frequently been described as upbeat, enthusiastic, and energetic. Others have noted that Matt and Kim songs follow a basic pattern and that the music is simultaneously "elementary" and "ultra-entertaining."
Their live shows have achieved a great deal of recognition for their high-energy, "riotous," and party-like atmosphere. They have been known to infuse their live sets with samples or covers of songs including Ludacris' "Move Bitch" and Europe's "The Final Countdown." Their performance style generally stays the same regardless of the size of the venue or the crowd. During shows, the band has also encouraged crowd surfing.
Over the course of their career, Matt and Kim have received largely positive reviews from critics. In a review for Paste, Jeremy Medina called the duo's music, "impeccably crafted indie dance tunes buoyed by disarmingly catchy, bustling beats." Reviewing Lightning for Consequence of Sound, Chris Coplan noted, "it’s no small feat that the duo continues to keep things intriguing, perpetually culling newer, fresher influences." Their live shows have also been praised for having a "good-time loft party vibe" that is "less conventional concert and more intimate."This Was Supposed to be a Celebration (2007, Mauled by Tigers)
We Were the Weirdos (2016)
In 2009 their song "Daylight" was featured in a Bacardi commercial and a Mars Bar commercial. During the first episode of Community, the song "Good Ol' Fashioned Nightmare" plays, and in the credits of the second episode the song "Daylight" plays. "Daylight" appeared in the opening credits of the 2015 movie Dirty Grandpa. "Daylight" was used on the ending credits in Season 6 of the TV series Entourage and in the season 5 finale of the TV show Skins. On August 26, 2009, Matt and Kim played the song "Daylight" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The track is featured on NBA Live 10, and as a remixed version featuring De La Soul on FIFA 10. "Daylight" is also on the Need for Speed: Nitro soundtrack. The song also appeared in the game The Sims 3: World Adventures; re-recorded into Simlish, the gibberish language used in the game.
Their song "Cameras" was used in an advertisement for Tune Up in which they were also featured. "Cameras" was also used in the trailer for the Morgan Spurlock film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and appears on its soundtrack album. Their song "Don't Slow Down" was used in commercials for the MTV series Underemployed and was also used in the first episode of the third Gossip Girl season. "Let's Go" was used in promos for the TV show The Mindy Project; on October 1, 2012, Matt and Kim performed the song on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Their song "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare" was featured in the Community pilot. Their song "AM/FM Sound" was featured in the episode of Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Gobbler", and as a backing song in an episode of Covert Affairs. In 2014, their song "It's Alright" was used in a Buick car commercial.
In 2013 "It's Alright" from the Album "Lightning" was used in the teaser of CS50 fair 2013 which is a course offered by Harvard on-campus and online as well as for free on edX and is attended by millions from all over the world. Also in January 2015 their single "Get It" appeared in the series promo for the FXX show "Man Seeking Woman"
In February 2015 their song "Don't Slow Down" was used in a commercial for Acura, and in October 2015 a series of advertisements for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines featured the song "Get It". Since 2016, "Let's Run Away" has been used to advertise the google Pixel smartphone.