When Matt and Kim first started making music, they didn’t have a lot of money to spend on fancy videos. Instead, they tried to come up with what they call “expensive ideas”—simple but alluring concepts that pull you in with a simple pitch: Have a food fight. Run through Times Square naked. Perform elaborate choreography in your underwear.
As their fanbase grew, so did Matt and Kim’s resources—watch them pretend to beat the crap out of each other in the flashy “Cameras” video—but a scrappy spirit continued to unite their visuals. “Sometimes bands grow and the budgets grow and then it just becomes very out of reach,” singer-keyboardist Matt Johnson says. “Something that people always connected to our videos is that they don’t feel super out of reach. They feel like, ‘Well, I could make that!'”
So when it came time to make a video for “Can You Blame Me,” the band turned it over to their fans entirely. In March, Matt and Kim uploaded close-up videos of themselves singing along to the track, taken from their fifth album, New Glow. Then the duo made a demo video asking fans to play those close-ups on iPads and tablets, hold the devices in front of their faces and film themselves doing whatever they wanted. Those clips, the band promised, would be assembled into the official music video. Now, nearly nine months later, Matt and Kim are ready to share the final product, which premieres today on TIME.
“People who listen to Matt and Kim and come to our shows, we always want them as involved as possible with what we do,” Johnson says. “We want to talk to everyone. We want there to be no boundaries. In coming up with that idea for that video, we were like, ‘Here’s a way we can get people who like the band in the video.'”
Some of the submissions are literal interpretations of the song’s lyrics, while others have nothing to do with them—one fan dances around in a pink dinosaur onesie, another plays around on some railroad tracks. Some videos look like they were shot on cell phones, while others made use of tripods and extra lighting and, as drummer Kim Schiffino says, “could have been the official video.” Picking a favorite is tough for the two.
“The guy going down hill in the wagon, he was part of a group that made some really good stuff,” Schiffino says. “I remember making an edit and being like, ‘Definitely keep that scene in!’”
“Hey, it goes with the theme—’Can you blame me for just being alive?’” Johnson says. “But there are weird things, like that guy who’s dressed up like an Oktoberfest [costume].”
“Or what about the girl in a bra with your face?” she says.
“I remember seeing that, answering the age-old question, ‘What would I look like if I had boobs?’” he says.
No boundaries indeed.