Before Outside Lands: Midi Matilda on its favorite live shows and OSL fantasies

Pub date August 1, 2013

San Francisco based duo Midi Matilda has managed to worm its way into a corner of electro-pop music that is highly accessible. As the musicians put it, they aren’t DJs and they aren’t a live band either.

Whatever they are, they seem to be catching. After an early spring tour with Shiny Toy Guns, the pair released a cover of the Temptations “Just My Imagination,” in June which garnered close to 30,000 views in just two days.  Plus, Midi Matilda’s debut EP Red Light District has acquired similar mass attention on YouTube. 

As Midi Matilda’s Skyler Kilborn and Logan Grime are also set to play Outside Lands next week (Aug. 9-11 in Golden Gate Park), I chatted with them about live shows,  the songwriting process, and their can’t-miss Outside Lands recommendations:

San Francisco Bay Guardian What was the last great live show you went to?

Skyler Kilborn In Sacramento at a place called Ace of Spades we saw Gold Fields, it was really awesome. The crowd [seemed] engaged the entire time. They got off stage, danced around, got on the bar, and kicked over somebody’s drink.

Logan Grime We’ve done a number of shows with guys from Capital Cities, it’s awesome to see how they’ve progressed over time, how much bigger their following has become. It was inspiring to see them.

SFBG What separates your performances from that of other artists?

LG A lot of people tell us they really enjoy the energy we bring to the stage. Our show has a lot of electronic elements to it; we don’t have people playing on stage. We both love to DJ and just make it a unique experience that‘s different from a lot of the things we’ve seen. We’re trying to push it in a new direction. We’re not DJs, or a full live band either. We’re trying something new and it’s working out so far.

SFBG What would you say is the best show you’ve performed this year, or any that really stick out?

LG For me it was headlining a show in San Francisco. We had played a lot more shows than we ever had in a year so far just in this year alone and so we were put in front of a lot of audiences that didn’t know who we were. After all that, playing a sold out show at a venue we really like in front of a lot of people.

SK  It felt like the tour we just finished we played so many shows it got our performance to a new level. That show is a good example of us bringing ourselves to a level we hadn’t really achieved before, and the tour was a good way for us to practice.

SFBG Could you talk a little bit about song “Red Light District”? It’s also your EP title so it seems to have some significance.

SK It’s a very introspective tune, not really about the Red Light District. It can be if you want it to be, but it’s more about a state of mind. Bringing yourself up as opposed to bringing yourself down. Red Light District is a metaphor for bringing yourself down. It’s about connecting in a place where it’s better to bring yourself up than bring yourself down.  Songwriting, at least for myself, it’s always about something I’m going through at the time. I think it’s important to access something real to you, at least as foundation for the idea. But I also think it’s fun to be a little more poetic and bring people directly to the point. Leading them there, but also giving them the opportunity to meet it at their level, wherever that is.

SFBG Are you guys looking forward to Outside Lands, are there any artists you’re definitely not going to miss?

LG The lineup this year is pretty amazing compared to some of the other years. This year’s strong in every day’s lineup. I know that no matter what I will not miss Paul McCartney. I’m excited to see so many bands.

SK I’ve been fantasizing about playing the festival since the first time I went in 2009. A group I actually love is Vampire Weekend. I have not seen them perform but I’ve listened to their music quite a bit and would love to see how they do it.