Many music prodigies and old souls have swept through the neo-soul scene. Nowadays, L.A.-based group The Internet is at the forefront. Today, Matt Martians (26) and Syd the Kyd (23) drop their third album, Ego Death, with much anticipation for their distinct sonic evolution.
The Internet sound encompasses genre-bending melodies matured with experimental jazz and sweet lyrical utterances. The pair faces the bittersweet reality of fame and coming of age in an industry met by various egos and fronts.
While speaking with EBONY, Matt and Syd disclosed some of the various lessons they’ve learned while navigating their distinct talent and managing the rough patches of growing up during their emergence as musicians. As for Ego Death, it’s a collection of songs containing exactly that: a narrative of how exciting, yet melancholy times, coiled with the unique construction of pop and textured jazz.
EBONY: What inspired your name the Internet?
Matt Martians: The story behind it is literally that we met on the Internet. MySpace kind of connected all of us at the beginning. It’s very simple and it’s kind of the overall concept that connects everybody. It’s kind of cool.
EBONY: Your new album is called Ego Death. How does it reflect the stage of growth you guys are at individually?
Matt Martians: Individually, this is maturing for us. Both of us have become adults and are understanding who we are more, just around the topic outside the music. I think the album title, the music, is just an overall coming-of-age type of situation.
Syd the Kyd: At the same time, I think it’s about becoming vulnerable and becoming sure of yourself within that vulnerability and learning about our egos. Realizing that we have them, trying not to deny them, but at the same time being conscious and trying to use them the best we can.
EBONY: Has there ever been a moment where you felt like you had to contain your ego in a situation?
Syd the Kyd: It’s actually funny, because there’s been a lot going on in our personal lives, and not just ours but in those of our bands as well. It’s been kind of testing our egos in strange ways. And it’s different for everybody, whether it’s been like somebody breaking up with somebody or someone losing somebody special, or somebody moving far away and having to deal with it and realize that were still grinding.
EBONY: How might you guys handle various egos you come across in the industry? Being exposed to different attitudes and people with different walks of life?
Syd the Kyd: We’ve learned not to take anything personally. The first Internet album [Purple Naked Ladies] was the first we’ve ever made together. I just happened to have a deal, and somebody said, “why not release it under Sony?” And we did. It was just hard for us, because we were new to this whole thing, and we took a lot of things personally in the beginning. So with this one, and throughout the last two, three years, we’ve been becoming more confident in ourselves to say, “whatever, f*ck it,” and at the same time to say, “I understand what they’re saying, I don’t agree with it but this is a business at the end of the day.”
EBONY: Janelle Monáe is featured on the new album. What was it like working with her?
Syd the Kyd: Honestly, kind of surreal, in the sense that I remember when I was put on to Janelle Monáe. I remember just being a fan. [We’re] just trying to get the best possible product so that I can keep working with people that have inspired me.
Matt Martians: Jimmy [Douglass] mastered and mixed the album, and he was probably my favorite to work with, because he’s really a legend of the game. Getting knowledge from him, seeing how he moves and how he ran his business, I really learned a lot. That was the main guy I learned a lot from, the guy that mixed the album.
EBONY: The new album is more pop driven. Do you guys ever feel the burden of appealing to a mainstream audience or creating music suited towards the masses?
Syd the Kyd: Good question actually. No, we don’t really feel that burden. We’ve been pressured in some ways. People have tried to pressure us in certain ways to say, “you should try a song like this,” but we only end up doing what we feels right for us. Even if I wanted to do some of the stuff people asked me to do, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it and it would kill my integrity. I told myself a couple years ago that I would never be a part of something that I was not proud of. I have done things I was not proud of, and it sucks when people come up to you like, “hey I heard that thing you did with so and so” and you’re like, “ohhhh, thanks.” (laughter)
I would regret that. Our conscious minds are really active, and so they stop us from doing things we just wouldn’t. I think with this album, it will probably be the one that appeals to the masses. I don’t know if it was a conscious thing or not, but we just made something that was really dope and progressive at the same time and more confident. I think that the confidence is something that will appeal more to the masses.
EBONY: What are topics you guys talk about on the daily that maybe trouble you or things that you’re going through that naturally come out in your music?
Syd the Kyd: A lot of our songs are about girls. (laughter)
Matt Martians: Our songs are about situations that everybody goes through. I think that in this album, there is a lot to relate to in the lyrics. It’s different from the last album [2013’s Feel Good], because the last albums were very ambiguous about what we were really talking about. In this album, there’s a direct message in most of the songs. Most people can understand it.
Syd the Kyd: It’s more straightforward.
EBONY: How would you like listeners to receive your music?
Syd the Kid: I want them to understand what I’m saying. They don’t have to necessarily agree on how I feel on certain things. “Special Affair” is dope but (laughs) it’s kind of basic as far as topic. There are some other songs from the album that are more thought provoking. And with those, I literally wanted to give my perspective on certain things and let people really know what’s going on. In the music industry, and a lot of industries, people tend to give off a facade that they’re living one kind of lifestyle and they’re not. I definitely understand that, I feel the pressure of that, wanting to be flyer than you actually are. (laughs) To drive a car that you could get but you can’t necessarily afford, you know what I mean?
I get a lot of that and that’s a big part of the ego death I’m talking about too that we go through as human beings, and that I go through and the rest of the band has been going through for the past couple years. I want people to connect with that message.