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Friday, July 6, 2012
Matt and Kim fuse streetball to dance punk

By Steve Etheridge

Well, geez, it took long enough.

For those who have been giddily anticipating the inevitable marriage of indie dance punk and street hoops, the wait is finally over.

In the video for their new song, “Let’s Go,” synth duo Matt and Kim have teamed up with venerated street baller Pat The Roc to showcase four minutes of hypnotic ball-handling, along with one of the most infectious melodies of 2012.

Matt Johnson, who represents an undetermined half of the Matt and Kim equation, explains that they first met up with Pat at a charity event called Band of Ballers, where celebrities and musicians are pitted against each other in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

“It ended up being all ringers, real ballplayers, essentially,” says Johnson. “Wiz Khalifa and Jim Jones had all these college players, but we also got some incredible players, and one of them was Pat.”

After writing “Let’s Go” for their new album, "Lightning," which comes out later this year, Johnson and his bandmate realized that Pat’s distinct style of ball-handling synced up perfectly with the song’s bouncing energy. So they gave him a call.

“It was crazy, we did four takes overall, but Pat nailed it every single take. The only reason we did it a few times was to mess with lighting and stuff,” says Johnson.

The performance came natural to Pat, which worked well with a band that thrives on an organic, gut-driven approach.

“We’re always looking to do things as simple and effective as we can,” says Johnson. “We like doing whatever feels like it makes the most sense.”

This mentality is partly derived from both Matt and Kim’s histories as skateboarders. Having grown up with that as part of their identities, there’s a certain individualistic flow that steers their work.

“Neither of us have ever really had to be team players,” says Johnson. “Skating is a really independent activity; your successes and failures are all on you. So in music, if you’re playing in a band with five guys or more, everyone has to have their own opinion, so things become compromised and watered down.”

“But being in a band with Kim, we’re so much on the same page, to maybe even an awkward extent, that it feels like an independent vision.”

It’s this independent vision that has Johnson so excited for the new album. Having worked with producers on previous releases, "Lightning," which they’re self-producing, has given them the freedom to make music on their own terms without having to answer to any outside opinions.

Of course, just as with dribbling three basketballs simultaneously or dropping in to a massive half-pipe, there are quite a few things that can go wrong. But, given no boundaries on expression, the potential for raw, unalloyed brilliance could make this their finest release yet.