Erykah Badu's controversial 'Window Seat' video: Matt and Kim's Matt Johnson on inspiring her naked walk

matt-and-kimThe very first thing you see in Erykah Badu‘s “Window Seat” video, before the clothes start coming off, is a title card reading “INSPIRED BY MATT AND KIM.” That’s Badu’s way of acknowledging the Brooklyn indie-pop duo (pictured) who went au naturel in Times Square for their “Lessons Learned” video last year, inspiring her similar striptease in Dallas for “Window Seat.” (Badu’s video is streaming at her official site.)

The Music Mix rang up the group’s Matt Johnson this morning to see what he thinks of Badu’s video and the debate it’s sparked. He and Kim are in Atlanta at the moment, finishing up their still-untitled third album. “We’re in the last week of working 13-hour days, six days a week,” Matt says. “We’ve been pretty stressed out, but I know we’re making something really special…And I’m still trying to come up with the video idea that tops ‘Lessons Learned.’ That’s actually something I think about a lot.” Read on after the jump for our Q&A about “Window Seat.”

ENTERTAIMENT WEEKLY: Erykah spoke to you and Kim before she made her video, right?
MATT JOHNSON:
Yeah. We got a call, I believe, the day she was going to shoot the video, and we chatted for a little bit. She was trying to get us to fly to Dallas that day to, I guess, make a cameo in the video. We couldn’t do it. At first, when she was saying she was going to do this video, my initial reaction was like, “This is an artist I like and respect.” I was flattered as the person who came up with that idea. But then I also felt like, it was something I came up with for for our song “Lessons Learned,” more than just shock value. It fit for the song. So we discussed. I’ve realized that her idea isn’t through shock value or anything, either. It fit what she was trying to say. In the end it all made sense. I definitely appreciate her [crediting us] in the beginning of the video.

How did she explain to you why she wanted to do her video this way?
It was a little looser than, “This is the one-sentence description of what I’m doing.” She wanted it to be seen as, Kim and I were the first people to — she was referring to it as “take the walk” — and she was going to be the second person to do it, and she wanted to encourage other people. I think in that same sort of liberating feeling [as our video]. Our song was about hitting the bottom of the barrel, when you have nowhere to go but up, how liberating that is to feel.

Did you give Erykah any words of wisdom on how to do a naked music video in public?
I told her about how Kim claims she doesn’t even remember shooting the video. Her nerves had blacked her out. I just sort of got into it and lived it up for the moment. So, you know, [Erykah] heard our perspectives. Afterwards, we had gotten some texts from her, but we didn’t really talk much. It was just things like, “Woo-hoo!” Big exclamation sort of things.

What do you think of how her video turned out?
I thought it turned out well. Again, as the person who came up with this original concept, it was important to me to have, even though you’re [shooting] one take, you still want to have different moments in the video, different breaks in time, and of course the twist at the end, which we had and she did have as well. That twist, even from just a film perspective, makes something fulfilling.

Her video has caused even more controversy than yours did. What do you think about that?
Ours, you know, we didn’t see it close to as much as what’s happening with her. But she’s a bigger artist and I think people maybe expect her to be more conscious about her actions, where they just see Kim and I as a couple stupid kids from Brooklyn who do dumb things. [Laughs] Maybe they feel she should have more responsibility. But really, most of the controversy I heard about, like, her getting nude with children present and that kind of thing, in my opinion, that shouldn’t be as big a deal as we make it in America. We have stuff that airs on television that I’m sure kids are present for in the room, some music videos that have a lot of sexual connotation in them — rather than just someone who’s taking their clothes off in a non-sexual way. The naked human figure shouldn’t be anything that is shunned or shamed or hid. The whole connection to the JFK assassination and all that, you know, I haven’t read whatever she’s saying about that, but I’m sure that she has her reasons.

Do you think artists should have the right to do controversial things like this?
Not just as a musician, as a visual artist as well, that’s just what things have been in history. If you’re trying to push the envelope for what is done, you’re going to piss some people off. When people are seeing things they’re not used to seeing, people get angry. But if you made everyone happy all the time, things would kind of stand still.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” video stirs controversy: Is the JFK imagery offensive?
Erykah Badu’s naked “Window Seat” video: What do you think of the provocative clip?
Sarah Palin’s first show won’t include LL Cool J, because he says so
Lady Gaga announces new album details: ‘It is the anthem for our generation’

New Christina Aguilera, ‘Not Myself Tonight’: Listen and weigh in here!
Usher goes ‘OMG’ with will.i.am in new video: Watch it here

Comments (10 total) Add your comment
  • Renaton

    Please, Make The Girl Dance did it first…

    Music critics just like their indie bands being called trendsetters…

  • stan

    BFD. It happens all the time on European beaches… Who cares?

  • Michael Kerner

    I really was surprised Erykah did strip in public like that. She really is getting desperate to sell music. Her last album New Amerykah Part 1: didn’t do well as a whole, considering the only single she had was the upbeat Honey. Whatever the case, she should be more art-felt.

  • Mosai

    No she was not doing this for record sells at all. Believe me, this was majority an artistic endeavor. I’ve known her for a while now and she really could care less about record sales. New Amerykah pt. 1 may not have done well in relative terms, but she is the most proud of that album. If you listen to both her New Amerykah albums and read her explanation about it, you can see where she’s comin from. Altho I am not encouraging her actions, Im not attacking her for them neither — it was a beautiful video with a beautiful message.

  • Starinmycar

    I’m here in Dallas Fort Worth where we know she is a nut case. Neo Soul is no more

    • Linas

      This whole topic of being afraid of nudity and thus telling others that it’s not OK is comical; artists that challenge the society to stop being afraid should be appreciated. Furthermore, what’s really comical – people that stay in shape and respect their bodies through exercise and good eating behaviors have no issue taking off their clothes in public, be it walking around dressed scantily, walking shirtless around NYC – because, I for one, have nothing to fear or be ashamed off. Muscles and great body tone create a sensation of covering your “naked” body. So, to all the fat-lards out there, get yourself in shape and stop complaining that Erykah looks AMAZING in this video; stop being jealous, and then you will quit judging.

      • Melissa

        I think those ‘fat lards’ should get naked next to you and then we’ll see how your arrogant cocky ass feels about public nudity.

  • brokeMC

    The human form is not pornographic.

  • krystalx

    I’m from dallas and we all knew she was edgy and out there and daring before she got famous. The other nutcase from dallas is a typical hick you’d find around here who doesn’t even know what neo soul *is*

  • quincy

    i what a email viedo of erykah badu nude pleace give a moment

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