Published Oct 30, 2015When Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All members Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians had the idea to form the soulful offshoot the Internet, the initial concept was to create a funky sound similar to British funk/acid jazz band Jamiroquai.
Three albums later — the most recent being the solid 12-track Ego Death released this summer via Odd Future Records/Sony Music — the co-leaders of the six-piece Los Angeles-based band are striving to create chill music reminiscent of the early neo-soul R&B movement.
Syd and Matt tell Exclaim! that even though their confidence in singing and performing live has grown, creating their brand of soul music is collectively still a work in progress. That said, the duo have a breezy chemistry together that carries into the music they create.
"The confidence started coming when I started writing this album," says lead vocalist Syd, real name Sydney Bennett. "For the past few years, I've been trying to do my best to make myself somebody I really like. In doing that, I'm gaining more confidence and self-esteem and I wanted to portray that on this album. I have more confidence in my songwriting and a little bit more confidence in my voice."
Working on album Ego Death started in L.A. a month after releasing the underrated Feel Good in 2013. Funk uptempo single "Dontcha" was the standout song on Feel Good, and they wanted to create an album of all "Dontcha" calibre songs that felt both vulnerable and honest.
"We want to make mature music, but we also want a youthful edge. With this album we were trying to find that balance of appealing to people who were our age and younger, but also appealing to people who are older and don't feel like the youth are making quality music," says musician/producer Martians (real name Matthew Martin).
The album title of Ego Death, they note, refers to the need to check all egos and stay humble to create great art. As a group, the duo talk about ensuring the band was a more collaborative entity this time out. With that in mind, it was important to have all the band members on the Ego Death album cover, and recent singles "Special Affair" and "Girl" (produced by Montreal's Kaytranada) reinforce this stripped-down, melodic R&B vision. It's less experimental jazz, more straight-up soul this time out.
"We just wanted more edge," says Syd. "I got tired of performing Feel Good because the vibey stuff is good but didn't always go with certain crowds. I came up in the Odd Future and needed that higher energy."
While the future of Odd Future is still uncertain, being a part of the collective was a blessing, they say, noting that it allowed them artistic growth and put them in a position to create the Internet.
"We've learned from being with Odd Future. In Odd Future, you had to have a really tough skin. Not just on the business side but personally. Being around a bunch of dudes all day is not the easiest thing," says Martians. "If we weren't with Odd Future and [gained] the leverage that we had with Odd Future, we wouldn't have been able to put out three albums like this."
Syd adds, "I learned a lot from being on the road, being in the studio, and a lot about making beats. That was the first thing that I really picked up on. I used to watch Tyler and Left Brain make beats all day. I learned a lot from that. I learned a lot about being on the road: performing and having stage presence. I learned a lot about having that confidence on stage so that people walk away from the show being wowed."
Ego Death features a strong cast of guest appearances, including Tyler, the Creator, Janelle Monáe, Vic Mensa and rising Canadian producer Kaytranada.
"We met [Kaytranada] in Montreal. I was DJing at (now defunct) Cabaret Underworld. There's a song he did with [Detroit artist] JMSN called 'All We Do' and I love that song. We met and kept in touch," says Syd.
Adds Martians, "We just really got cool. He's just really dope."
Having toured North America and created videos for tracks like "Get Away," Syd's priorities are making music and staying happy. "The fame is not that important to me," she adds.
Martians notes, "Being in Odd Future, we've experienced fame. Right now, success is everyone in the band being able to do what they want to do in and outside of it. The worst thing you can do is try to restrict the people in the band. We just wanted to make this crazy Jamiroquai band."
The Internet are currently wrapping up their extensive North American tour and will play Vancouver on October 31. You can see their remaining dates over here.
As far as Odd Future are concerned, they currently only have one show on the horizon, with the group slated to play Tyler, the Creator's Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles on November 14.