Midi Matilda on Rocking With Duran Duran, Recording With a Dust Brother + More
Combining high-energy pop with polished beats, Bay Area duo Midi Matilda make some of the most danceable music since Passion Pit. The pair, which consists of multi-instrumentalists Skyler Kilborn and Logan Grimé, released their debut EP, ‘Red Light District,’ in 2012, earning the attention of Duran Duran and the Dust Brothers, among others. In between busting moves on the road and in the studio, both members chatted with Diffuser.fm about performing as a two-piece, emulating M.J. and the Boss and more.
You guys met in college. How did you get started playing together?
Skyler Kilborn: In high school, I had this band called Bullets Can’t Kill Dany. Our drummer quit kind of unexpectedly right as we were about to release our first record. I was searching for a drummer to replace him and it was kind of difficult, but I eventually found Logan through a mutual friend of ours. He decided to start playing with us, and that began the journey.
Having played in larger bands before with more members, what made you want to work as a duo?
Logan Grimé: Since we started playing together, we started making songs together the two of us and had other people in and out to play live. Eventually, we decided to try something different — not really sure if it was going to work — but we tried at our first live show and it worked out well.
SK: We really started to enjoy the simplicity of dealing with each other’s schedules versus other people, too.
Is it ever tempting to add more people, at least to the live show? The band has such a full sound.
LG: I think it’s something that we’re definitely open to and possible in the future, but we’re just right now focused on playing the two of us. That’s how we make our songs up, and it’s what works for us. But that’s not to say that couldn’t change, because plenty of other bands have done that. I know the Black Keys eventually added a full band, and some others went that way when it made sense for them.
SK: We occasionally do have a trumpet player, or people make small cameos in our live shows, which we really love to do.
You guys have been gaining a lot of notoriety around San Francisco, where you’re based. Between your upcoming Outside Lands appearance and some bigger shows around the Bay Area, what has surprised you the most about your newly heightened profile?
SK: When we first started taking off, it wasn’t expected, but it was very exciting. Our first show that we played that sold out, we didn’t realize that people in legit bands would be there, singing along to some of the songs.
LG: Yeah, it’s been really cool. We got to open up for Duran Duran two days in a row, which is one of the bigger bands we’ve ever played in. We also played the Fillmore with Geographer, which was probably one of my favorite shows so far and one of my favorite venues.
SK: There have been a lot of venues in the past year or year and a half that we never played at, so that was a big one for us.
Logan, you’ve done some of the band’s videos. What’s your background with that?
LG: I’ve always played around with video since I was young, probably 10 or so, just playing around the camera and doing home movies. Later, while we were in school, I started doing a series in some of the studios down there. We brought in bands to record them with multiple cameras and high-quality audio and put out that material for bands in the area. Eventually, after school, I started working in video production and have been doing that freelance ever since, and I still do. And a lot of that came out of necessity in a way, because we’re totally open to working with other people, but we did it all ourselves because we could.
And right now you guys are working with John King of Dust Brothers?
LG: Yeah, we’ve been working on a couple of songs with him that we’re excited about. We went down to his place in L.A. to record, and he’s just a really great guy. We learned a bunch of new techniques from him, and he’s got some awesome stories about working with Hanson and Dave Grohl and all these people.
How did you guys get hooked up with him?
LG: It was a friend of a friend, actually. The friend works with him and passed our music along. The opportunity came to work with him, so we jumped on it.
You guys have some pretty good moves on stage.
SK: Francis and the Lights. I love watching his videos. His moves are amazing.