Matt & Kim + Citizen Kay + Tiger Beams @ The Zoo, 09.05.2013

Matt & Kim @ The Zoo, Thursday 9 May 2013

Although I’d done a couple of interviews for Rave as their go-to person for taking to people about photography, and in fact my first ever effort wound up being the feature story, I’d never done a Q&A before.  Having been offered one with Matt & Kim, and with no one else showing any interest, I decided I’d take it on, thinking that it would be quick and easy.  However, it was a lot more troublesome and time consuming than I thought it would be.

I did a lot of online research to read previous reviews that the band had done to look for follow up questions to already asked questions and found that almost every interview asked them the same sort of questions.  I also read a bunch of album reviews to see how others described their music and also noted the similarity between reviews from different media outlets.  One thing that did strike me about the album reviews was how they all used generic genre terms like “Punk” and “Hip Hop” but never included the almost mandatory obligation of referencing other band they sound like.

Coming up with what I considered “interesting” questions, and not the usual same set of questions that get asked time-after-time, and especially with an act doing a series of interviews for an upcoming tour, was more difficult than I expected.  Having come up with some broad topics to discuss, it was then a hard task to word them well into a proper, constructive sentence that made sense and would hopefully result in some though and consideration in the answers.

Having finally put together a list of 12 questions, I emailed them off to the band’s Australian PR person and a week or so late got the replies.  Having slaved over them,  it was disappointing that I didn’t get replies to every question I asked, only 8 out of the 12.  Questions not answered included those about the musical restrictions of being a two piece, whether they could every see themselves augmenting the band to include additional musicians (similar to how The Black Keys have progressed their sound by moving away from just being the two of them) and the trade-off between writing and recording and album and being able to then play the songs live (based on a previous interview where they commented that the paramount requirement of the songs they write is being  able to play them live).  Having been emailed the responses, it was also frustrating that you don’t have the platform for follow-up questions based on the answers given.

It’s not the greatest Q&A in the world, very much a powder puff piece.  I’m not sure if you can dictate a truly insightful Q&A, as you’re so dependent on the responses but don’t have any control over that, especially when the either management/PR don’t send off the full set of questions or the interviewees chose not to answer them.  At least in a face-to-face or telephone interview, you do have the ability to keep probing within your allotted time, provide clarification to questions, rephrase them, and be able to ask follow-up questions based on their responses.  On the other hand, as someone with very little interviewing experience, it’s nice that someone who probably had far better things things to do took the time to answer the questions you asked them.  I’m keen to do more interviewing, even if transcribing them if one of the worst jobs ever and takes away from the interesting part of doing them in the first place.

Walking to the show, I started to think about my aim for the night and decided to try to photograph Matt & Kim as darkly as I could. By that I mean that I didn’t want to photograph them ‘ugly’ but just grittier than all the other photos I’ve seen of the band, where they’re all smiles.  I often go out to photograph a band with a set intention but, more often than not, that goal quickly falls by the wayside.

However, the reason every photograph of Matt & Kim shows them looking so happy is because from start to finish they just look like they are.  I’d struggle to recall the last band I saw that looked like they were enjoying themselves playing a show as Matt & Kim.  So many bands I’ve known treat playing live as such a chore, you wonder why they do it in the first place.  By comparison, Matt & Kim look like they’re having the time of their lives, making an aim to get dark, gritty, moody photos a complete non-starter.  When Kim takes to the microphone to tell the audience that nothing makes her happier than being up on stage and playing and that if you’re doing something with your life that makes you 100% happy that you need to find that one thing that does it for you and just do it, it’s 100% honest.

There are limitations with the band; musically they are a bit one-dimensional, a bit one trick pony, like a lot of other bands, a bit gimmicky but at the heart of it, they’re just such a great party band. They’re a band you can go and lose yourself in for a fun hour and just enjoy the moment.  I’ve written before about how modern day crowds just don’t seem to match the passion that I used to see when I first starting going to gigs on a regular basis more than 20 years ago, but tonight reminds me of those old days.  One girl, perched on someone’s shoulders, is so excited by the moment, that she looks like she’s in a rush to take her top and bra off.  Normally the preserve of metal gigs and festivals, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at The Zoo and for an “indie” band.  It’s a refreshing change to see an audience so into a band, even if The Zoo is shamefully less than half full.

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