Introducing Three Chords And The Truth, POPULAR’s new music series in which our favorite musicians reveal the story behind their most meaningful songs. First up, Matt Johnson from NYC duo Matt and Kim fills us in on how their track “I See Ya” came about.
Sometimes songs take a long time to write—like months or even years before they happen. And sometimes when songs are very pure in their meaning they happen really quickly. That’s what happened with “I See Ya.”
For a band like us, who onstage is all about trying to have the show as wild as possible, sometimes you forget about slowing it down a little. But we think it’s important that every one of our albums has one song that we sort of pull back a little on. “I See Ya” was the last song we wrote for the album. We’ve been on the road so much over the past number of years—over five, six, seven, eight…I don’t know! We wouldn’t do anything different about how our lives have been during that time, but we’ve sort of missed every birthday, wedding…we were just not there. So we wanted to give a shout-out to all of our friends and family who we’ve become disconnected with but still think about. I have a pretty small family—it’s just my mom, my dad, and my brother. It’s just a shame that I don’t see them more. It breaks my heart sometimes. And Kim feels the same with her family.
I’ve never been a fan of going to any big fancy studio—maybe I feel I’m not good enough for a big fancy studio—so we wrote this at home. When we started this song, I wanted to make it pure a cappella, nothing else—strip it back and make it as pure as possible. But when we did the demo, it didn’t feel right. It’s about finding the world that’s still Matt and Kim, but a little bit of a stretch. So we added a little flair to it, but most of the instrumentation is my voice. Usually my vocal lines are a bit more reeled in, and for this one I just let it all out.
We sent the song to our friends and family to make sure everyone felt OK with it. One friend of ours, she and another friend have needed to bury the hatchet for a while, and after she heard it, she said, “Life’s too short, we need to work this out.” I take pride in having a really fun show where people can cut loose and all that, but it’s also crazy to think of the other powers that music has, like that, which can totally change something.