Since the release of their first single, “Day Dreams”, Midi Matilda has exploded onto San Francisco’s local music scene. Topping Hype Machine’s play lists, appearing on hundreds of blogs, making a regular rotation on Live 105’s Sound Check and playing at BFD’s local stage, it’s clear that this duo has star power that will be tough for the rest of the world to ignore.
Made up of two friends and Bay Area natives who met at Expression College in the East Bay while studying music production, Midi Matilda’s Logan Grime and Skyler Kilborn are on a roll with no plans to slow down soon.
Their sound, often compared to hit-maker electro pop acts like Foster the People and Passion Pit, is relevant, fun, exciting, creative, and catchy.
We had the chance to sit down for lunch with Midi Matilda and chat about upcoming releases, music videos, and getting chased down by a bunch of 14 year old girls at a recent concert.
The Bay Bridged: So how did you two end up coming together to make this kind of music? Logan, your background is all in percussion and Skyler, you are the singer/multi-instrumentalist, how did the two of you come together to make this really cool electro music sound?
Skyler Kilborn (SK): It didn’t start off that way. I personally think a lot of it was out of necessity. Because we were making songs just the two of us, pretty much the entire time we’ve been making music together. At some point everything started being made in the box on the computer. A lot of electronic instruments came into play, a lot of sounds that we wouldn’t have usually had the oppurtunity to mess with in a band practice space with a bunch of people. Plus we just love that kind of music we grew up listening to electronic music. I know Logan and I listen to a lot of early 80s kind of atmospheric electronic music.
Logan Grime (LG): Basically we were just making music for the two of us, like he was saying. We ended up creating instruments for all the different members of the band. I’ll write a song, I’ll write the bass part and I’ll write the guitar stuff and then he’ll play it. We’ll do things like that, we’ll mix it up. Where he’ll write a drum part and then I’ll play the drum part. It can be difficult sometimes finding the right people to play with, with a full band.
TBB: Have you played with a full band?
LG: We actually played, a week and a half before our first show, we played a show under a different band name but we played all of the same songs. With a six person band.
TBB: Was it a secret?
LG: It was a secret. It was a test to see how it would go with a full band and it wasn’t translating the right way live, having everybody play the instruments.
TBB: What did you name the band, or is that still a secret? Did people like it?
LG: It’s not a secret – The Mama Jamas. We played at the Rockit Room. We didn’t tell anybody about it. It was just to play on a stage. It’s always hard because there are a lot of people who will say they like it no matter what. We had a lot of people who said “It was great, it was great!” and then we played our other show and people are like, “yeah, the other one could have been better.” Playing with just the two of us right now, we can depend and rely on each other. We wrote all of our songs and recorded them without ever playing them before. We did it all kind of backwards. We just did it all on the computer and learned how to play the parts. So by the time we got together and started playing them for the first time together we already knew how to play them. It was just a matter of playing them.
So that’s how we kind of still do it. So, the new song we’re coming out with soon is kind of one we’ve still basically completely written and then before a show we’re like, alright, let’s play it live and then we learn how to play. We do it that way.
SK: It works well for us that way. We’re strange like that.
LG: The whole band thing is kind of working in reverse because we decided we were going to try and get a following and see if we could get the music out in front of a lot of people first. I was confident we could get some sort of fan base out of doing that and then they would say hey, come play for us as opposed to saying hey so and so come check us out live becuase I know a lot of my friends’ bands do that. I’ve done that so many times before.
TBB: How many projects did you have before that?
LG: Well this band, Skyler and I have been writing music together for the past four years or so. We started off as a band that was his, that he started that I joined, I was just playing drums for them, called Bullets Can’t Kill Danny. That’s what he was doing when we were in college and then we started another band that didn’t really have a name. Then we did another band called the Big Champagne, and we actually played a few songs for that and there was another member to that. And actually, two of the songs we played with that band are now Midi Matilda songs. We just took them and brought them over. There’s a couple of other songs after that that we wrote and then never put out in front of anyone and then finally we just decided, said, no matter what, with these two songs we’re going to put them out there in front of people and see how they do. If they’re not good or if they’re good and see how it goes. So far, it’s been good since then.
TBB: Is that where the idea for the Day Dreams Video Came From? Did you think it was going to be a cool video people would watch and then they’d like the song?
LG: Yeah, it was like, intially I was thinking what could be cool San Francisco Bay Area based video that could be really cool to bay area people to get them really interested in it regardless. That was one idea. Then, the idea for the projected thing and doing that was secondary. I went on this tour in Africa with this hip hop label called Remarkable Current so it was a bunch of different artists together and I went and filmed them and did their sound for them live in Algeria and Tunisia for three weeks. While I was there there was a guy who was an artist and he told me about a music video he shot, and his name was Azeem. He did a music video that he shot and filmed and projected out of a window. The original idea was to do something similar to that. I was shooting a lot of time lapse photography at the time so I said well maybe we can take a picture of every frame of it and play it back and then we tried it and did a bunch of tests and it worked. I think that was the idea with hopefully all of our videos, is to do something where people if they don’t even like the song they can connect to the video and still get something out of it. If they like both then hey, that’s twice as good. Because I know there will be some people who will love it or hate it, so why not give them something.
TBB: What did you think when the Day Dreams video ended up on Huffington Post and then on a ton of other notable music sites?
LG: Well, we, at first I was actively going out and reaching out to local blogs to get them on there. The Huffington Post was one of five or so it got on. That was random, it got on a blog in the mission and I don’t know how it actually all worked out. For a month it was just on those blogs and then, on January 3rd, this blog called the Neon Gold posted it and then that day it just showed up on lots and lots of blogs and since then it’s been on well over a hundred blogs. That was just a couple months ago. That was one thing after another it kept going. It was very strange that morning just getting emails after emails after emails. That’s how we got our manager and we got all these people together, was from when that happened and everyone started sharing it.
TBB: A lot of people have compared you to Foster the People, because they were a band that had a breakout blog song with “Pumped up Kicks” and then everything happened really fast for them as well. Is that the direction you see yourself moving in, would you want that?
SK: I see that kind of being the direction a lot of bands are going to go just because the internet, people can access a single so easily now, usually for free. But we also at the same time really want to put out lots of good content people will connect with. Not relying totally on one song. But that’s kind of how it happens sometimes. We’ll have to see.
TBB: So you’re going back to LA, then are you planning on going on tour?
SK: It’s in the works. Our booking agent and our manager are just communicating with different bands right now and we would love to hit the road as soon as possible but I think we need to reach out a few more times, maybe do a couple one offs and see what happens.
TBB: How many songs have you produced at this point to tour with?
LG: We have certain songs we can play live that aren’t recorded yet. But in a week it will be, that we actually have out as Midi Matilda Songs, six songs.
SK: But live we play like seven or eight.
LG: We’re going to keep putting out singles and music videos at a much more rapid pace.
TBB: Rather than trying to do an EP?
LG: Yeah, just cause I really feel at this point for us and in this day and age it’s so much more valuable to be able to feed an audience with new music and new content, it keeps it fresh on people’s minds instead of putting out a big chunk and being like “boom, here it is” when we could easily be putting out a song and a video and having a full deal.
SK: It’s a really effective way to brand yourself, to pair video with audio almost all the time.
TBB: You both grew up here, and with BFD. What was it like to play that show?
LG: Fun, really rushed. Playing on a festival stage in general is really rushed and get in get out. We had to fly down right after we played to go play another show in Orange County so we didn’t get to hang around.
SK: But it was awesome thought. It was really cool to play outdoors on a festival stage.
LG: There were fans there, it was cool. They came up to Skyler.
TBB: What do you mean, they came up to Skyler? What happened?
SK: Our guitar tech, Brendan and I, were walking to get a slice of pizza and a hoarde of 14 year old girls saw me and came screaming. It was really fun. They took pictures, made me sign stuff. I got to sign my first CD. One girl had me sign her BFD ticket. It was cool to know that people are listening to our stuff and know who we are recognize us.
LG: We’re very important Skyler.
TBB: Can you name some of your influences?
SK: This project? I’ve been listening to a lot of the Police lately. Sting, which is the Police but better. The Clash.
LG: I don’t know why I do this but I try to not have, I don’t listen to things to get influence.
SK: Maybe not consciously.
LG: (laughs) I understand that. But I feel like when I seek things out they screw with my head and I get too caught up in other people’s ideas. I guess that’s more so with new music.
SK: There’s a tendency to think you have to say the right band for the right influence, but we listen to so many different things that all of it really makes its way into our music.
LG: Yeah, that’s it. Carly Rae Jepsen. I listened to that song on my run this morning. No joke, I listen to straight up pop music. Skyler doesn’t, but I do.
TBB: Thanks guys!