On ‘Ego Death,’ The Internet have truly caught up to their initial vision just around the same time the rest of the music scene is striving to do the same.
When The Internet, spearheaded by Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians, put out their first album Purple Naked Ladies, in 2011, they were already ahead of the curve. That debut, which was a collection of the first material the two had ever made together–with Syd on the mic and Matt on the boards–favored jazz, neo-soul, N.E.R.D.-esque vibes tied together with silky R&B vocals and unique hip-hop-tinted lyricism. Their predilection for live instrumentation and extended jams, the type that could be heard on Matt Martian’s Jet Age of Tomorrow projects, led the duo, who first met on MySpace, to put together a 6-piece band that would help them catch up to the ambitions expressed on their debut. The resulting project was their sophomore record, Feel Good, which progressed their sound with the help of that ensemble who brought a marked musicianship to match Matt and Syd’s executive direction.
With deeply collaborative albums like Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp a Butterfly and The Social Experiment‘s Surf both solidifying the reincarnation of funk, soul and live instrumentation in hip-hop and R&B, it’s clearer than ever just how innovative The Internet were with their undertakings. Their latest album, Ego Death, which is out now, continues that progression building off the rawness of their debut all the while incorporating the complexity of its predecessor. More than ever, it feels like The Internet, who describe the project as their most collaborative yet, have congealed into sonic bliss.
Musically, Ego Death finds itself in a place minimalism, which is not to be confused with simplicity. There’s gorgeous jams through out on tracks like the Janelle Monae-featuring “Gabby,” moments of bounce on cuts like the Kaytranada-assisted “Girl” and bedroom anthems like “Special Affair.” What ends up really bringing cohesion to the project are Syd’s captivating voice and the common theme encapsulated by the album’s title–an inner-conflict between a heightened ego and a broken one. On Ego Death, The Internet have truly caught up to their initial vision just around the same time the rest of the music scene is striving to do the same.
We were lucky enough to chat with Syd and Matt about the MySpace days, Odd Future and the making of Ego Death. Pick up your copy and read the full Q&A below.
TMN: What were your earliest musical memories, as far as what was playing around the house or anything that you were listening to growing up that you felt like has influenced your sound?
Matt: I think my very first memory was hearing my dad play stuff in the car all the time. My very first memory musically was The Commodores song called “Machine Gun.” It’s a song that has no lyrics or anything, it’s just a fucking jam–a jam-out Commodores song. And I remember I would always ask my dad to play it on repeat, and as a kid I didn’t know this wasn’t normal, but now that I’m older I realize that type of music is not something a normal five year old really grabs onto. Because I’ve never been a trained musician, but I’ve always known what sounded good and what not to do, which is kind of a gift in itself.
Syd: Me, I grew up listening to a lot of like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Arie, Musiq Soulchild and a lot of reggae like a lot of Maxi Priest, Steel Pulse, and Third World. Yeah, my dad is part of kind of a musical family, his brother is very involved in the music industry in Jamaica, and my mom is just like a huge fan of music. She still wants to be an engineer, like me.
TMN: So, building off of that, when did you guys first start making music?
Matt: I would say I started late; I was a late bloomer. I was 17 and it was like my first year of college. It got to the point where I got sick of waiting on my favorite bands to put music out. And I always felt like the good bands took forever to put music out and the trash bands would put music out every three years. So, it was like, you know, N.E.R.D. would come out with an album then you wouldn’t hear shit like, “Nigga I been waiting four years! I’m not gonna wait four years for twelve songs!” So, for me it was more like teach me how to fish, eat forever type of situation.
Syd: I took piano lessons as a kid and all that, but I didn’t start making music on my own until I was like 14 when my dad got me a laptop for school and it had Garage Band. I just started and I knew at that point that I wanted to do something involved in music, I just didn’t know what. Then I realized “oh a producer,” and then I realized “oh I’m not that good at this…” (Laughs). So I just started engineering instead just to stay involved one way or another and to make money.
TMN: So, I know Matt you had done some production work with Odd Future in general. Syd were you the first person to get in touch with Matt or was it through being a member of Odd Future yourself?
Syd: No, Matt was in Odd Future way before me, like years before me. Matt is an original member, he’s like one of the first members. I was a fan of his, because he had the Super 3. I was a fan of the Super 3 so I used to just message him like “Hey, give me advice on beats” and he used to give me advice.
Matt: Right. It’s kind of weird when I think about it now, like we’re best friends and we’re in a band together, because it really was like fate. So, me and Tyler (The Creator) linked up like a few years before I met Syd, this was on MySpace as well. The Internet is just the embodiment of both, and how a lot of our lives have changed because of it. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Internet. So, we basically connected through MySpace, bouncing ideas, then she got into Odd Future. I was already in Odd Future so we got even closer. It kind of happened organically, how it was supposed to happen. It was nothing forced, it was more so like we both had very similar interests, and we grew up from very similar backgrounds so it just makes a lot of sense.