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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at Mainetoday.com. You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the News Center Maine TV show “207” to talk about...music of course.

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Posted: April 8, 2015

High-energy musical fun from Matt and Kim at State Theatre on Saturday

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

109910_812145-MattandKim_Credit-MaBrooklyn, New York-based indie dance duo Matt and Kim sure know how to have – and spread – fun. With Matt Johnson on vocals and keyboard and Kim Schifino on drums, the songs, music videos and live shows are all infused with a high-energy enthusiasm that continues to gain momentum with each album. Their latest record “New Glow,” released on Tuesday, is their fifth and includes “Hey Now,” “Hoodie On” and “Get It,” among other jet-propelled, feel-good songs. And they’ll be performing here in Portland on Saturday at the State Theatre in Portland. The pair met while students at Pratt Institute and have been connected at the hip ever since. Their debut, self-title record came out in 2006. With each subsequent release, their popularity has grown and their number of Facebook fans hovers just under 400,000. Matt and Kim’s tour for “New Glow” kicks off with a Saturday night show at Portland’s State Theatre.

During a recent telephone interview. Johnson spoke about “New Glow” and the intensity of the duo’s live shows and his childhood connection to Maine.

Although it’s likely just by chance, what do you think about the fact that the tour officially starts in Portland?

Kim and I are both New Englanders by birth. Other than living in Vermont and then moving to New York, I lived for a year in Portland. My dad had been hired to be part of a team building a building (in Maine) and we spent a year there. I have fond memories of seeing the ferries come into the harbor.

What inspired the song “Hoodie On?” Any political undertones or should it be taken at face value?

We realized as we were making this album, Kim was wearing the same hooded sweatshirt. When we started out playing in people’s basements and living rooms she had exactly that same hoodie as when we went to play main stages at Lollapallooza and Bonnaroo. In the end, the song is just about finding success on your own path and not changing as that happens – same person, same hoodie. It’s not like oh, we’ve upgraded. She bought that (hoodie) for about $5.99 in a bad part of Brooklyn.

What about “Hey Now?” It’s smile-inducing yet also mentions dying and how the person you’re singing about is always in trouble. In fact with several songs you touch on dark topics but you do it in such a way that it’s fun and upbeat and not depressing. Is that intentional?

I think it’s nice to have a contrast. Luckily we’re people who love life and we feel so fortunate to do what we do. We’re upbeat people and we write upbeat music which is a reflection of ourselves. I feel like if you were lyrically writing about swing sets and lollipops, it would be really sort of vomit-inducing. So I think there always has been some sort of darker undertone that balances out the vibe and lyric. I think it keeps it all in a good place in my mind.

“Get it” by Matt and Kim

Do spontaneous dance parties happen at your home?

It’s been known to happen but mostly just Kim. Sometimes during her exercise routine in the morning, she’ll just put on music really loud and dance for an hour. And being that I always sleep in, that’s what I wake up to. She’s always up and doing something. Sometimes she has Beyonce turned way up and is just dancing up to a sweat.

Are you exhausted after your shows? It seems like it’s a pretty serious workout up there.

I think a total crash is what I have. I feel the adrenaline on stage and we put everything into it and feel the audience’s energy. By the time I walk off the stage, I’m excited. Then I sit down and I might as well just fall asleep right at that point. I put it all in and don’t leave anything left.

Generally speaking, how do your songs come together?

We always start in a musical place. There are some people that start in a lyrical place but we always start with a beat and a melody. We’ll be practicing and Kim will play a beat and I’ll record it on my phone. Then I’ll try to write a little melody to it. We kind of let the song tell us what it should be about lyrically by cross-referencing things that are happening in our life. I feel like there’s never too much intention – I think in a good way. It’s never like ‘oh we need to make a song that sounds like this.’ It’s just sort of like this is what happens when people who love indie music, hip-hop, electronic music, punk and all that stuff. When they just try to make music, this is what comes out.

Matt and Kim with Waters

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday|
WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $20 in advance, $25 day of show
TICKETS: statetheatreportland.com

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