With Purple Naked Ladies, The Internet stepped outside of the usual chaos of Odd Future and built a little bubble of their own. Combining elements of neo-soul, hip-hop, and electronic, the product of Syd and Matt Martian’s collaboration creates its own kind of chaos, but there’s a peacefulness about it that sets them apart. We paid a visit to the duo to talk about their music, coming up with Odd Future, their strategy of dropping free music, and what else is cooking within the OFWGKTA camp.
What have you two been up to during your time in Atlanta?
Matt: Just chilling. Chilling with my friends, doing random shit, going to random events.
Syd: It was supposed to be a work thing. We come out here and work – but it was also supposed to be like a vacation and a chance to just get away from L.A. for a little while before we go on this little short tour we’re about to do. Then, we’ll go back and sit down and really try to get back to work.
Since the release of Purple Naked Ladies in December, what are some things you’ve learned both musically and personally?
Syd: Musically, I learned a lot about mixing. A lot about vocal production. Personally, I learned a lot about the music industry from a new perspective. Interesting stuff to learn. It helped mold a new direction for me. It helped me figure out exactly what I want to do. This is not really what I want to do. What I want to do is build studios for a living and produce for a bunch of people and mix and master. I need to get some credentials. It’s hard to really get a good paying mixing gig with just experience for some reason with no certificate. But, I am appreciating making music. I want the Internet to live forever. I don’t want to have to necessarily tour forever. I don’t want to feel like I have to put an album out next year or else my life is over. But I do want to keep making music for myself.
Matt: Musically… the thing I like about putting out albums is when you put out an album, it’s the best thing you’ve done at the time. That represents you at the time of your talents and where you are. But as we’ve been making newer stuff, it’s cool because you learn you can go further than what you think is your best at certain times. You can go past that. You can exceed that. In general, I’m just more comfortable with the keys. I know how to play certain things, but having the live bass now and having to play shit with other people in sync, it really helps. Even when you start making beats, you can start moving through the keys a lot faster. It’s noticeable. Personally, it’s weird because I get recognized more than I used to. Being in front of the camera is not really my goal with all this, but with the Internet, I’m seen more than I was before when I was doing Jet Age stuff. It’s cool because the people who do approach me, they’re very respectful. It’s never an extra’d out thing, it’s people who really enjoy the music. I can tell when people like what I do, they actually dig deeper. So, I appreciate it. We get a lot more offers to do remixes and stuff like that too.
Why have you decided to release all future music for free?
Matt: It’s no point to sell music anymore. With everything being based on the Internet, you’ll turn on the TV and see tweets are being read at the bottom of every TV show. What’s the point of releasing music for sale? Frank, The Weeknd, A$AP, even Odd Future were built like that, they got to be the biggest things in music off the backs of free music. Look at all these rappers. French Montana don’t have an album out and he’s on everything. You really question yourself. Meek Mill doesn’t have an album out, but Meek Mill’s on TV. You look at it like, “why do I need to sell my records?” We produce for other people so we’ll be getting the royalty and publishing money just by producing for other people. We look at it from a logical stand-point. We don’t have the pressure of the budget like “I don’t want to hear all that.” This is music, but this is my art. We’re the type of people where, next week, we might not fuck with it. We might make some cool shit like “that’s a cool beat, [but] I’m not going to write to it though.”
Syd: We were thankful for our first album. The music industry is ridiculous. It’s really sad, but we’re in a really good position. We’re in a better position than so many artists. So for us to have such a hard time in our position putting out a project, I can only imagine what it’s like for people with shitty deals.
Matt: We control a lot of what we do. But it’s still stuff that’s out of our hands. That’s when it gets kind of frustrating at times. Sometimes you can’t do anything. When we release free music now, they can’t tell us what to do. Our following grows everyday. It’s really no point for us to sell music because I believe when you give people free music that they like, they’ll support you in other ways.
Syd: We’re going to pull a Radiohead. Put it out for free. You can donate if you really want to support us that much. We’re not going to act like we couldn’t use the money. Album advances are beautiful. But in all honesty, you don’t get an album advance for every album; you get it for every album you’re signed for. So to a certain extent, you’re just doing it to make them money.
Matt: It’s label politics, politics that I don’t want to have nothing to do with. We’re producers that make albums. We’re not artists that make albums, we’re not singers that make albums. We like making music that nobody has no control over, but at the same time, we don’t take ourselves that seriously musically. I’m not saying we don’t take our music seriously. We’re not sitting here trying to blow up, but we want to be able to make a decent amount of money off of what we do.
Syd: We don’t want to be stopped on the street anymore than we are now.
Matt: It’s a good level now. With the way we’re going, we’re inspiring a lot of people to get that mindset of “fuck it, why are we selling records?” Look at the top rappers in the game. Nas came out and sold 150,000 copies. That’s really nice but think about the 2004 equivalent: that would have been a million in a week. Nobody really cares about buying it because everybody heard the album before it came out [anyway] because they heard the leak. Let’s be real – if Frank Ocean put out Channel Orange for free, everybody would have it. A lot of people have it, but it’s some people that be on some ‘I can’t afford it’ or they don’t know how to download shit. I feel like music should be free because you can’t control music, you can’t contain it. I can be riding down the street and you can hear what I’m bumping out the car, how can you tell me I can’t have that? If I like that, I’ll spend the $15 I would on the album to go to the show. You’ll get your $15 back and you’ll get it back to you, not to the record label. That’s the difference.
How has the use of more live instrumentation affected your writing and recording process? Has it been easier? Harder? If so, how?
Matt: The thing is we haven’t started on the second album yet, we’ve just been working on the Feel Good EP right now cause we don’t know how the second album’s going to sound. The EP is going to be a mixture of other artists that we like.
Syd: It’s going to be like a ‘Presents’ album. I hate to compare it to something, but…
Matt: The difference between it being a ‘Presents’ album and this is that we actually played with these bands. Like if we were in their band or if they were part of the Internet for a song, that’s what we would make. I think that’s cool. We don’t know where we want to go with the next album yet, but when you do hear this, you’re going to see the growth as far as production, easily. The live instrumentation is important because it gives you an overall different feel. Those sounds don’t get old. A kick-drum can be old. But when you hear a bass guitar… it’s a fucking bass guitar, bruh. That’s not going nowhere. That’s a staple. Live instrumentation can never get old. We’ll release it sometime next month. There’s no rush. It’ll be like five to seven songs. We’ve got like five core songs already. This EP is more about us working with different bands… it’s not so much about somebody putting verses on a song and just rapping on it.
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You’ve got a mini-tour next month as well, hitting New York, Philly, Boston, D.C. & Toronto. What do you like most about shows? Will you plan it differently compared to your over-seas shows?
Matt: Honestly, we don’t plan it. It’s really not that big of a difference but I will say it just seems like people overseas, they don’t really care who you are. If you’re just jamming, they’ll fuck with you. They’ll really fuck with you. It’s been so many shows overseas people didn’t know who the fuck we were and then after the show, they were legit fans. The best thing about performing is just watching everybody let loose, ’cause on stage you don’t care. I don’t be giving no fuck when I’m on stage. Like you came to watch me, I’m not about to be nervous on stage. That’s how I feel about it.
Syd: You can’t help but to get anxious before it. You can’t even control that. Every one of us is anxious before a show. We tend to get a little bit nervous if it’s a festival. But other than that, we’re confident in the fact that everyone that’s there paid to see us. They’re gonna be happy with seeing us be who we are.
Matt, you’ve been working closely with an Atlanta-bred collective NRK for some time now – at times, mentoring them. You’ve also sort of taken Kilo Kish under your wing. What do you think it is that inspires you to help these artists find their sound?
Matt: ‘Cause they’re all like me. All the people we work with are like us. They all have the same mind frame.
Syd: We all can kick it on a regular basis.
Matt: We’re all legit friends. Kish to me – it’s weird. A lot of artists used to come into the Marina to work. Our managers used to set us up with people and it never clicked. There’d always be something there. We’re never not cool with them… it’s always that little one thing that doesn’t allow you to get.
Syd: One thing we just don’t agree on musically. And it’s ok. It’s just how it is.
Matt: We would hang with Kish if we weren’t making music with her. That’s the difference. It makes it a lot easier when we’re making music ’cause I can give her a beat and she’ll be like “I don’t like it” and I won’t feel no type of way about cause I know if I send her something else she’ll be like “alright, let’s do it.” I’m inspired by Kish because she can quit tomorrow.
Syd: She has a job. She makes money at her job. More money than she’s making right now.
Matt: She just graduated from fashion school. I like the idea because I feel like everybody takes wanting to be successful so serious, wanting to be that nigga so serious. I like seeing a girl who one day I can text Kish like, “I got a beat.” The next day, she’ll be like, “I don’t want to do it” or “I don’t know if I want to record for a month.” I’ll be like, “Kish, oh my gosh, are you serious.” The next day, she’ll call me back like, “oh, I did that song.” I like that about Kish.
Syd: She’s the kind of person who records because she’s bored at home alone and she has a microphone.
Matt: I love that about her. I basically just come in and give her direction. Kish knows how to make songs. With Homeschool, I basically came in as executive producer and told her what songs should go where and gave her the beats that I feel like she needed. The thing about Kish is Kish can go in a different direction. It can easily be a bad direction. With female rappers already having a stigma of being corny, with Kish I was like you already have a cutesy voice so there’s no point in over-exaggeration. She’s very lyrical and she’s funny so there’s no reason to overcompensate. So I just wanted to give her a backdrop of what I feel like a girl in NY would like, seeing the type of girls and atmosphere Kish hangs around. With certain artists, it’s cool to give them some guidance. Kish isn’t into what’s going on either. She doesn’t listen to music all day.
Syd: She’s so unsure about so much of her music and you wouldn’t know it because she records it anyway. It sounds great to everyone else. She’s amazing. I’m hoping on tour with her I can learn something about song-writing. She’ll be opening for us.
Matt: Kish is cool, man. I’m really proud of the buzz she’s building. She’s doing it without being extra’d out and I love that. Kish could be out here in skimpy clothes, on Twitter all day. But she doesn’t overcompensate for who she is. I feel like people gravitative to people who don’t feel like they need to exude who they are at all times. Like, “hey it’s me! Look what I’m selling you!” Some people don’t need that. I always told her when we were making the album. We’re going to make a good album and we’re going to shut up and put it out. If people don’t fuck with it, they don’t fuck with it. That’s what happened: we put it out and nobody was talking about it for a few weeks to a month. After a month, everyone was like what is this? Cream of the crop will always rise to the top. If you put out good music, people will find it. People will always want to find superb music. Do you know how easy it is to stand out when everyone is making mediocre ass music?
Syd: The bar has been set so low for music right now and it’s only because… there’s a lot of reason. For one: on most Macs, there’s GarageBand. On GarageBand, you can record on your Mac’s microphone. You can record anything you want. It can be great or it can be sus. People have different ideas of what’s good and what’s bad. I try to keep faith in the fact that art has a different meaning for everybody.
Matt: It’s crazy because even though I love a lot of these artists out, I like them for their image and what they stand for. Mediocrity can make you a lot of money. So, when you’re on the Internet and you’re a broke 19 year old singer, you see these crazy rappers on the Internet getting famous just putting themselves out there in a crazy way.
Is there still a plan for the Sweaty Martians project?
Matt: Here’s the thing about that. Earl is like my little brother. Me and Earl have so many songs and beats, made, together. I don’t think that’s coming out for a minute, probably next year. The thing about that album is that I don’t want it to be a traditional rap album. He can do that with Tyler. We’ve considered making it an instrumental project where other people can get on it. Me and Syd make different shit than what me and Earl make. It all sounds different. It’s one of those projects we work on it here and there. We have songs together that are going on other stuff. We work with Earl all the time. It’s coming, though, don’t worry.
Syd: In person, he’s the same person he left as. It’s hard to say about that everyone.
Matt: You got to think about the pressure and how unfair it is. A lot of people have a choice. Syd has a choice if she wants to DJ for OF and be all in the cameras. Earl never had a choice. What if Earl came back and didn’t want to do music?
Syd: The world would have felt stupid. The world’s going to feel stupid when they hear Earl’s album anyway. It’s not going to sound anything like EARL at all. It’s been like three years. What rapper can live that long off one album? It’s going to suck for a lot of his fans; they’re going to get caught off guard. All that happened is that he grew up. And it’s “against” OF to grow up.
Matt: That’s why we keep our distance. We understand maturity and growing up. It’s necessary.
Syd: That’s why Odd Future works. We’re a collective and we don’t have to be together all the time. When we made a name for ourselves touring all as one unit, it kind of made everybody feel like separately, we can’t do that. To this day, nobody toured by themselves except us and Lonny. And Lonny never toured with any of us either. But yeah, Earl definitely has his head on straight. He’s a smart kid. He’s still learning. He’s 18. He still thinks he knows more than he does but he is very, very smart.
Matt: He’s found a balance between maturing and being a kid from OF.
Syd: You can mature and still have fun.
What’s something about The Internet that most people might not know?
Matt: I will say this. I think people don’t know about how we work. You never know who does what in a song. That’s the biggest misconception, that I produce the beat and Syd sings on it. Sometimes Syd will do a lot of the beat and I’ll do one thing, sometimes I’ll do a lot of the beat and Syd’ll do one thing. It’s half and half. Even with remixes, Syd does most of the remixes. A lot of the album like Web of Me, she did that by herself. We can make any type of song.
Syd: The intro of the album was us and our drummer. Matt did most of the beat. Coco is singing on it. It kind of works against us.
Matt: It’s a band.
Matt does all the own illustration and artwork for The Internet as well as other artists’ projects. How do you approach creating art for the music? Is it something you might have stressed over or more of a free-flowing, artistic style?
Matt: It’s so much easier to start doing music. With drawing, I have to really want to fucking draw. I love drawing, but I don’t like doing it. I don’t like just sitting at home all day drawing.
Syd: That’s how I feel about producing. I might be in the mood for a week or two weeks and then be out of the mood for a week or two weeks.
Matt: I want to put out a remix album.
Syd: Right now, we get an offer to do a remix once a month.
What’s been The Internet’s most memorable moment?
Matt: There’s so many. Maybe when we made “Lincoln.” The way we made “Lincoln” and “Cocaine” was we were around the room in the old house, we called it the bakery. It was ten people in the room just smoking. We would start making beats. I was playing “Lincoln” and then Hal just freestyled that whole verse. So many people think it’s a sample.
I remember I was playing Frank the album and he heard “Gurl” and he was like, “Syd killed you on the second verse. You got to sing high-pitch.”
Syd: Most people don’t even know that Frank Ocean wrote part of “She DGAF.” So Matt wrote the chorus – “blow smoke in the air” – and Frank was like, “you should add change the second part to ‘she shaved off all of her hair’ or something random.” Frank’s the kind of dude who can sing anything and it’ll sound beautiful. Like “Crack Rock.” I don’t have enough confidence for that, but he told me do it so I did it and it turned out fine.
Matt: I remember it was after the Ponoma OF show, it was like 2 AM.
Do you have plans to work with him on future records?
Matt: We were supposed to last time.
Syd: He was supposed to be on “Cunt.” That was the last song we did. We couldn’t really figure out anything to write to it. I thought only Frank could master a track like this with this tempo change. But we were both on tour, he was working on his album, there was so much going on. But it’s kind of a blessing in disguise ’cause now we really feel like we did that whole thing by ourselves.
Matt: You want to get time to be able to make these collabs happen. What if two years down, we do songs and shows with Frank? We can work with him any time.
If there was one artist outside of Odd Future who you could work with on the next full-length LP, who would that be and why?
Matt: We worked with the Step Kids on the EP but I want to work with them on the album also. I want to work with this girl Gwen Bunn from Atlanta that Syd put me onto. She’s not that known but her shit is fucking tight, nigga.
Syd: Her buzz is building so slowly but so surely like people who are finding about her are falling in love.
Where would you like to be in a year?
Syd: In a year, I might be aiming high. In a year, I want for Taco and I to be splitting the mortgage on my parents’ house and for us to be paying for them having their own place somewhere else. I want the Internet to be touring more than we are now. One thing about me that most people probably don’t know is that I don’t like being away from home for more than two weeks. But I do want us to be doing more regular shows as the Internet. I want the Trap 2.0 to be done and I want OF to be able to record there.
Matt: Comfortably producing from my house. Honestly I want Syd to be happy, Kish to be happy, Hal to be happy, Patrick to be happy. Those are the artists I work the closest with. They deserve to be happy. All I ever wanted to do was sit in my house and make music. I would rather have a nice ass crib than a car, nice clothes, etc. If I get a bunch of money, I’m going to buy a house cash. Always got somewhere to lay my head. Always got somewhere to go. In a year, I just want everybody to be comfortable. I want everyone to be happy.