Exclusive: Odd Future members, The Internet shed light on their bonds with Mac Miller and Vince Staples and how they came together as a musical collective.
Odd Future forced themselves into the viewing public’s collective consciousness when Tyler the Creator appeared to ingest (and subsequently regurgitate) a cockroach and straddle Jimmy Fallon’s back like a mall carousel horse within the same two-week span in 2011. As various members—particularly Tyler, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean—have achieved commercial and critical success over the past two years, one thing that is seemingly lost on many is the fact that Odd Future is a group full of, well...groups. As such, Hodgy Beats, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Left Brain, Syd Tha Kyd, Matt Martians, Jasper Dolphin, Taco and the rest of O.F. are often linked with the rest of the collective—for better or worse.
“Odd Future is a family…It’s like cousins; you don’t always see certain cousins, but when you do, it’s all love,” Matt Martians tells HipHopDX when referring to Odd Future. If this is the case, The Internet is an immediate family. On a blisteringly hot and dusty day in San Bernadino, Martians, Patrick Paige, and Christopher Smith tell jokes at each other’s expense as Syd looks on smiling.
“We still hang with those guys, but we wanted to make this album about us” Matt replies when asked about Odd Future’s presence on The Internet’s upcoming new album, Feel Good. “They were always around, but as far as like working on the songs, we really wanted to make this about our band, and not about Odd Future. We really want to set ourselves apart, yet, make it a bigger part of Odd Future at the same time, but make it distinct what we do. Some people get it confused. I’ve seen articles where people call Syd a rapper.”
After rocking the stage at the Southern California leg of Rock the Bells, Syd, Matt, Patrick and Christopher of The Internet talked about their origins, the making of their debut album, Purple Naked Ladies, and their love of music and others who love it also.
Syd tha Kyd & Matt Martians Explain Forming The Internet
HipHopDX: Everybody tends to know Syd from Twitter, and then they know Matt. But who all is in the band?
Syd tha Kyd: The whole band is us plus Patrick Paige and Christopher Allen Smith.
DX: What role do you guys play?
Patrick Paige: I’m a producer, and I play bass.
Christopher Allen Smith: I’m a drummer and engineer.
Syd tha Kyd: Chris and I mastered the next album together, and Tay Walker—he’s out in the crowd somewhere watching some of the shows. He sings as well, and he’s also the keyboard player. Then there is me and Matt.
DX: So, you guys have all been around Odd Future, but how did The Internet form within that?
Syd tha Kyd: It formed really randomly; I’m not gonna lie. Matt moved to LA from Atlanta, and we became best friends almost instantly. We didn’t work together; we would just play music for each other all day. We just hung out, played music for each other and put each other onto new music. Then, one day our manager suggested we try making music together, so we did. The first thing we made ended up on Purple Naked Ladies.
DX: Which track was that?
Syd tha Kyd: Which one was the first one we did?
Matt Martians: We did “She Don’t Give a Fuck.” We would always walk around and get pizza, and we would just sing out of nowhere, like, “She blows smoke in the air.” It was just like some shit we would sing, and then we made a beat, sung over it, and it worked out.
Matt Martians: We made “Cocaine,” then we made “They Say.” It was like, “This is kind of cool,” and it had some cohesiveness.
Syd tha Kyd: It was a sound we never heard before, so it was like, “Alright, this might work. It’s definitely different, and we can definitely probably market it.” Then, from there, it just grew naturally. Now, for the second album, we have the whole band working on it—on the production side, the writing side and on everything. It’s definitely a cohesive unit of songs. You’ll definitely hear a lot of vibes…a lot of different influences.
Matt Martians Calls “Feel Good” A Step Up
DX: Is there anything you specifically targeted this time around?
Matt Martians: I think the difference is, with the first album, we didn’t really have a direction with it. We just put a lot of songs together we made that we really liked. That’s why there’s songs like “Lincoln” on it. It was just songs that we liked. On this album, we know exactly what sound we want portray, and we definitely know what type of sound we’re trying to get through. It’s a lot easier when we play, and we have a lot more confidence ‘cause we’re a lot more sure of what we want to do. This album is definitely a step up. We have to step up, because I feel like sophomore albums are your chance to really show—either you build on the potential or you stay on the same level. I think as long as you grow, your fans will grow with you, and you’ll also get way more other fans if you keep progressing.
Syd tha Kyd: You can show your maturity. The reason it ended up how it did—which is mostly live instrumentation—is because when it came time to perform, we refused to do backup tracks. I wasn’t that strong of a vocalist; I’m still working at it, and I didn’t feel comfortable with just a backing track. I wanted people around me. I wanted live music that I could feel in my heart, that I could vibe to and that would take some of the pressure off me. From the first show to now, it’s been the same five of us.
DX: How did you transition from deejaying to being a vocalist?
Syd tha Kyd: Even when I was deejaying, I was co-writing songs with Tay and Pat. We were always just making random stuff—stuff that sounds kind of like what we make now or what you’ll hear on Feel Good. It was definitely a strange transition. At the same time, I felt like it was necessary, because when I deejay, I don’t use a microphone. It was great to be able to speak to people, look people in the eye, say what I want to say and not wish they could read my mind.
DX: Between all of you, who writes the lyrics?
Matt Martians: It depends. It depends on who comes in contact with us when we’re working on the song.
Syd tha Kyd: I co-write on every song. Sometimes I end up doing most of it, but we call on different people for every track. Whatever kind of vibe we want for this song, we call on whatever writer friends we have that fit that vibe. We bring them in, and we work. You’ll hear a lot of different influences, but it’s pretty cohesive, and I’m happy with it.
DX: So has Chris been engineering throughout all of Odd Future or just when you guys started making Purple Naked Ladies?
Syd tha Kyd: He really started with this album. He helped mix two songs on the last album, ‘cause he played drums on one song. He was in the studio with us a lot back then. On Feel Good he mixed everything with me, and he mastered everything with me.
DX: Feel Good was originally scheduled to be an EP. What influenced the decision to turn it into a full project?
How Chad Hugo Contributed To The Internets Sophomore Album
Matt Martians: Them songs started getting tight as hell! We were like “Hold up!” Nah, what happened is we started working with Chad Hugo. When we were working with Chad, it was still scheduled to be an EP, but then we had a song with Thundercat and Chad. We started building something where we were like, “Why would we just waste it on an EP?”
Syd tha Kyd: That, and by the time that happened, it was just too long to wait and just release an EP. It was like an EP could have came way before that. We said, “Let’s just keep working and make an album.” Even at that point, when we tried to pick songs, we had too many for an EP. Our manager was like, “You can’t have that many, because it’s an LP at that point.” So we said, “Alright, cool. We’ll just add to the LP,”
DX: How did you guys connect with Chad Hugo?
Matt Martians: Our executive producer—Mike Einziger from Incubus—he pretty much executive produced the album. He knows we’re pretty big Neptunes fans. So one day, he’s like, “Alright, come to the house. I want y’all to meet Chad.” I was like, “Awwww!” I’m a huge Neptunes fan, so I was freaking out like, “I get to meet Chad?” I was counting down the days. He basically brings us over there, and we didn’t know we were gonna make music with him. We thought we were just gonna meet him…
Syd tha Kyd: And then go and have our normal session…
Matt Martians: So we get over there, and we start making beats. Then Mike is like, “I wonder if Chad will get on this?” So, he goes and gets Chad, and Chad’s like “Hell yeah I’ll get on it.” That’s how it happened. We got up with him again, and we made another song that didn’t make the album, but he’s just cool. Ever since then, he helps with anything we need, and he’s in our new video. It’s weird, because—growing up on the Neptunes and N*E*R*D—the fact that he likes us a lot is very surreal. I’m very grateful that he feels he can put his name next to ours, and be cool with that. Legends can be on songs with us and be proud to be on those songs with us. It’s cool.
DX: So you guys just dropped a video. I think a lot of people were expecting “Partners in Crime, 2.”
Syd tha Kyd: No, “Partners in Crime 2” is not our first single. We released it because it’s a part 2, and it’s not giving too much away. But we wanted to let everybody know that it’s coming this time, because we don’t release music until the album is done and we know when it’s dropping. That’s just how we work; we don’t like to play games. We wanted to release that to let everybody know to keep a lookout. The first single is a song is called “Dontcha.” Chad is in it, and Mike Eizinger is in it…I’m excited.
DX: Syd, you said before you were nervous about singing in the studio. How do you go from that to performing live?
Syd tha Kyd: What gave me the confidence to sing in front of a crowd of people when I did, was knowing that I wrote what I was saying. I knew what I wrote wasn’t just a song to write a song. It was something that meant something to me...something that I needed to tell myself. Pretty much all the songs on our first album were messages to ourselves.
Matt Martians: And ex-girlfriends…
Syd tha Kyd: And ex-girlfriends. It was all about stuff that we were going through at the time, and it was stuff that we needed to hear. No other music was really telling us how we wanted to hear it. So we just did that. It was that that gave me confidence, like, “You know what—if I sound decent—if I sound a little bit less than decent, at least I wrote what I’m saying.” Most of these people don’t write what they’re saying, so I felt good in knowing that.
DX: So, speaking of ex-girlfriends, Syd, do you feel that you being so open with your sexuality affects people’s perception of your music?
Syd tha Kyd: I never really thought about it to be honest. Actually, I’ve thought about how it affects their image of me, but not necessarily how they hear my music. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think it does, and I’m very thankful for that. Even if it does, I’m not one to use excuses. We’re gonna find the audience that’s right for us, and run with that. That’s all we need.
DX: With you, there never really had to be a coming out type of thing. Do you feel like the situation with you is different than the situation that happened with Frank Ocean?
Syd tha Kyd: Definitely. It’s different being a gay man than it is being a gay female. It’s very different. I think everything happens for a reason, and everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen. I have no regrets, and I’m so happy for him and his career.
DX: Channel Orange is dope
Syd tha Kyd: It is. I’m not gonna lie, for a lot of the songs I was writing on Feel Good, there were a lot of moments when I would think, “Alright, what would Frank do?” and I would come up with something. He definitely helped a lot, whether he was there or not.
DX: The music, from within the crew definitely stands apart. From Earl, to Tyler, Domo Genesis and you guys, there’s a certain sound. But sometimes, the fans bleed over. I saw recently that somebody posted a disrespectful comment on your Instagram feed. Does that affiliation frustrate you when fans take certain liberties?
Matt Martians: It’s not really frustrating; it’s just retarded. It’s just unnecessary. It’s not even a matter of making us mad; it’s mostly like, “Why? Y’all lame as hell. Y’all go way harder than the actual people you’re trying to be like.”
Syd tha Kyd: It’s weird, because they think that because Tyler says outlandish things, they can say more outlandish things. They don’t understand Tyler wouldn’t say that. It’s not really frustrating, but it’s something that I feel I have to address. As someone who believes in what I believe in, I have to address it. If not, they think it’s okay, and it’s not okay with me. I don’t like to get on Instagram and see inappropriate comments.
Matt Martians: They don’t understand…Tyler knows, and Tyler is smart. He knows what he’s saying.
Syd tha Kyd: He has boundaries, and he’s not gonna say anything that would truly… He’s not stupid. These other kids, I can’t say the same for them. I feel as someone who people see a little bit more than most, so I feel like I have a responsibility or an obligation to address things like that and stop that shit.
DX: So you guys have the Odd Future family, and you have an extended family within the music scene—the artists who live in Los Angeles. How was the “Space Migration Tour” with Mac Miller?
Syd tha Kyd: It was so much fun. We had a blast…too much fun.
The Internet Discuss Their Friendship With Mac Miller
DX: Do you feel like that was your best touring experience?
Syd tha Kyd: Definitely. [“Space Migration”] was the longest tour we ever did, and the best tour I’ve ever done. We were just well taken care of. For it to be five us—who, no one should really give a shit about—Mac Miller truly cares.
Matt Martians: I’m gonna be real, and not just because he’s my friend; Mac Miller is a cool ass nigga, bruh. It’s just funny how in the music industry, the artists that people think are corny or lame are actually the coolest people, and treat people the best. And the ones who people think are the best… It’s just such a flip side to it. That’s the nigga, man…even though he’s white.
Patrick Paige: He’s still that nigga. I definitely have to say this; my respect level for him has gone up tremendously after meeting him.
DX: How did that whole lineup come together?
Matt Martians: What happened was, originally, we would go over Mac’s house…why did we originally go over there?
Syd tha Kyd: We were having our second show in LA at the Echoplex. He tweeted us, asking if he could come, and we put him on the list and he came. We were surprised that he even showed up, but we didn’t see him in the audience. Then we walk off stage, and he’s just right there.
DX: Just chillin’?
Syd tha Kyd: Yeah, like hyper almost. Like, “Yo!”
Matt Martians: I didn’t get that’s how he was at the time. I thought he was on; I’m not gonna lie. I thought he was on, but that’s how he is.
Syd tha Kyd: He gets really excited about music. He’s not always like that, but when he hears stuff he likes, he gets really excited about it. He invited us to his house, and we exchanged numbers that night. He brought us to his house to make music, and we just started going over there to make beats and play each other beats.
Matt Martians: We started going over there every other day, just chillin’ and making music. We made a lot of our album over there—like three songs off our album we made at his house. We started going over there vibing out, and we became real good friends beyond music. We’d go over there some days and not even touch music. We just go over there and post.
Syd tha Kyd: And put each other onto music.
Matt Martians: Or just sit there and do nothing. He really wants to mature musically and get respect, which he has with this album. I’m so happy for him; he’s getting what he deserves.
Syd tha Kyd: He wanted to make a transition in his live act, and he wanted to have a band. We happened to have a really dope, small band, which makes a big sound. Luckily for us, he recognized that when he saw us play, and he asked us if we’d be down to tour together. We said, “Yeah, for sure,” and worked out the kinks. He added a bunch of people like Chance the Rapper, and he added Earl [Sweatshirt] and Action Bronson to some dates. I deejayed for Earl, and we did two weeks with Action Bronson—he’s awesome as hell…one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It was just good vibes all around. I couldn’t have asked for a better tour.
DX: You brought up Vince Staples, That’s sort of your extended family also.
Syd tha Kyd: That’s our little brother.
DX: He’s been around from the beginning. Common said he has Vince Staples on his upcoming EP, and he spoke really highly of him. Common said, “When he hears Vince Staples rap, it makes him want to write.” How does it feel to see Vince’s progression?
Syd tha Kyd: This is our first time finding out. Of all people who deserve something…
Matt Martians: That is fucking crazy, dude! You don’t understand; Vince Staples is like our little brother. This is like…that’s crazy. I’m gonna be real with you bruh. This nigga Vince—and I hope you read this interview—you have a big ass mouth, my nigga, but, you are…he’s one of the nicest, like really real people out there, bruh. He really wants this shit, and it’s great to see him, because a lot of people didn’t want Vince to succeed. It’s great to see him break through those barriers, especially since he’s someone who isn’t really about a flashy image. He’s really about just rapping.
I think the seasons are changing, I think that the Kendrick Lamar stuff is so important. I think that’s gonna go down as a turning point in Hip Hop music, because bullshit is not working no more. The great thing about Kendrick Lamar—and I’m gonna tell you why this effects Vince—it was necessary for somebody at the very top to tell everybody…someone that even the normal person thought was smart, to tell everybody that shit is weak. That’s all that was needed. Nobody was saying shit, and everybody was doing molly music. It just took one person to do that shit. So now, for people like Vince, people who actually spit and are known for being rappers, they have a whole new lane open for them, where people really just want to hear good Rap music. That’s great. That shit is insane. Also, Vince, I need some Lebron’s, and some Kobe’s—I know you got the Nike connect. We shouting you out all over this interview. Congrats, bro.
DX: What’s the deal with Chateau Marie Studios for those that don’t know?
Syd tha Kyd: For those that don’t know, Teena Marie’s daughter and me opened up a studio in memory of Teena Marie, who passed away a couple years ago. We’re selling studio time for the low for all the unsigned artists. It’s in Hollywood off Highland and Sunset. Go to www.chateaumariestudios.com. I’m usually there.
DX: So cats come through, and they get to record with you in the studio?
Syd tha Kyd: Sometimes I’m there. I stop through…I pass through. A lot of times I am there though, and I definitely hear everything that gets made.
DX: As far as Feel Good, is there anything you guys want to say about that project?
Matt Martians: Play it with your parents. It’s for all ages, and there’s no boundaries. Play it with your parents, and play it with your grandma. Shout out to Zaxby’s
Syd tha Kyd: Shout out to Vince Staples.