the internet on exploring the wrong in the world and trying to heal it
Teamwork makes the dream work because we’re all in this together.
Fully reclined, nestled deep into the plush couch of a sky-rise Swedish hotel lobby bar, Syd Tha Kyd and Matt Martians (aka The Internet) enjoy a stolen moment of peace. Resonating with subtle intensity, both musicians casually peruse the garish interiors surrounding them from the safety of their soft, hooded sweatshirts. Reflecting on past experiences touring the world with Odd Future, Syd brushes off her exhaustion with nonchalance. "I'm just engulfing myself in this right now. I don't care about time zones, it won't matter in the long term; I get to sleep when I'm home." Departing the cult eleven-man L.A. hip hop outfit back in 2011, the two squaddies paired off to embark on the creation of their own hybrid of R&B meets Californian electronica. Three albums later, their latest Grammy nominated LP Ego Death is a uniquely atmospheric and immediately impressive fusion of Syd's honest and meditative writing talents and Matt's freeform, trip-hop sensibilities.
A discussion of shared values and social consciousness reveals that the effortless nature of their vibe is nestled at the very heart of who they are and what they do. The fine art of creating a truly healing, soothing sound so free from commercial constructs is an almost impossible feat in the strained business of monetizing music. The Internet's music is about appreciating the now — owning the moment with humility and honest ideology. What feels instantly obvious both from conversations with Syd and Matt, and so prevalently throughout the music, is the spiritual connection and respect the two channel into their music.
Syd's slow-moving vocals fade into Matt's melodically chill-tinged, key-tone productions, colliding to create a thing of beauty and pure, understated serenity. Ego Death winds like a woman's body as she undresses to seduce, sexy, soft and mesmerizing. Naming the album in direct retaliation to the mind-numbing and limited egotistical attitudes both recording artists navigate their way around daily, Syd and Matt want it known they are here for entertainment purposes only.
Is this your first time in Sweden?
Syd: It's my fourth time. I only found that out today.
Matt: This is my fourth time as well. People are very, very nice, so welcoming. I'm not even just saying that. People are noticeably more welcoming than in other places I've been.
Are you writing new material at present?
Syd: Usually we don't write on the road but lately I've been wanting to record just because I have some stuff I want to finish.
Is coming up with lyrics therapeutic?
Syd: Not for me. It can be, but usually for me it's more like a puzzle. I like recording because I like to create something from nothing. I have realized that newness and innovation make me happy. Making new music makes me happy, it energizes me and is motivational.
Do you both feel a sense of freedom now you're writing independently from Odd Future?
Syd: Yes, in certain avenues and certain aspects... but in other ways, not that much has changed. We still have the same relationships with the band as we always have. It's all love. With our last album we wanted to make it known that The Internet's sound is completely different.
What are the specific themes and aspects of who you are, that you want to explore with your music?
Matt: We definitely want to explore things that are wrong around the world, specifically things that affect us, such as the election and a lot of the attacks happening. Coming up as black young adults, I feel a sense of duty to fix this and help people our age who haven't experienced life this crazy before. I think it's important to talk about that from a perspective that people who listen to us understand. It's not necessarily about educating, more understanding.
Syd: It's not our job to educate; I think if anything we want to promote a sense of healing.
Matt: We want to deliver a sense of hope that it's going to be ok, because we're in it too. I think it's important for people to realize that even though we are artists, we are people too, and we deal with the same conflicts other young people deal with. We want to be able to travel and do music but not everybody knows who we are and not everybody cares. It's important to let people know that we are all in this together. That's so important.
Syd: We just got to be honest.
Matt: We are not purposefully trying to do one thing, we are just talking about our lives. We have these discussions all the time about what's going on and how to fix us and the situation around us, so I don't think it's necessarily something that we have to try to do, it's just having those conversations. Listeners are really smart, they don't get enough credit.
Syd: It can all be interpreted in different ways. All we can do is be honest about how we feel and hope that it acts as a healing mechanism for some people.
Why did you decide to collaborate as a duo as opposed to making music independently?
Syd: When I was a teenager I hit him up Matt on Myspace and told him I wanted to find a production partner and he told me to do it myself. I was disappointed, but I did start doing it all myself. He had a good point in not helping me, though; he said when you got a partner you gotta split money. I thought I could try and handle the production myself but we started hanging out a lot and we are similar personalities. We agree on a lot of things.
Matt: She's one of the only people who can tell me I'm wrong and I agree.
Syd: I don't say it often.
Matt: She doesn't, but she is one of the only people who can be critical of me and I will accept it. I will never even try and protest it. I think it's important to have people like that. I have a very strong personality and l need to know when I am wrong. When you overreact, you need to have someone to wind you back in.
Could you do this on your own?
Matt: The band are in this too, we are just as close to them. I have personal and deep relationships with everyone in the band. We have all gone through things together and separately, we all have bonds and that helps out no-one is ever left out. We are a tight knit band so we try to keep each other really humble.
Syd: Everyone needs a friend.
Text Milly McMahon