[W]hen The Internet arrive at KOKO in Camden for our shoot with them ahead of their recent sold out gigs it’s immediately obvious that they’re a band happy in each others’ company and feeling blessed to be doing what they do.Their togetherness has been a steadily evolving process since Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians (both previously Odd Future affiliates) began recording together around five years ago as writer/singer and beatmaker/producer respectively. Over time Jameel Bruner, Patrick Paige, Christopher A. Smith and Steve Lacy (sadly not with them the day we met) have become integral parts of the band, evidenced in the fuller, more cohesive sound on their third album Ego Death. We caught up with Matt to talk about group dynamics, the working process and the state of creativity in music.
"A lot of the creativity in making black music kind of went away for a while... I think what we’re seeing now is a reaction to things being the opposite of creative."
How does it feel to finally get over here and tour the record?
It’s cool. When we first started doing shows London was always one of the places that sold out and was always one of the places that we would get support from. We played KOKO just a few years ago and we couldn’t have dreamed that we could sell out two nights now.
You’re presenting yourself as more of a band now than previous records, how’s that come about and how has your sound progressed as a result?
The sound has progressed because we’ve got two new band members that have very vital roles on the new album. Jameel came on keys after the second album and he has a great jazz background and then Steve, who’s 17, our guitar player, him and I produced the majority of the record together – the guitar licks are all his and they’re both so young – Jameel’s 20 – having that youthful energy to a band that already has a youthful sound gives it a whole new breath of fresh air. It’s dope.
How do the ideas come together as you start the writing process? How the does the dynamic work?
It’s random – for the latest album, Syd used to own a studio out in Hollywood so we would just be over there all day. The whole band would be there at some point, or maybe just a few of us, so somebody would make a beat or me and Steve would just be making beats together. We started producing together because a lot of the time our bass player Patrick would be out doing something so we would need bass lines on beats and it came to the point where I would just start using Steve. Then we realised we were making something really special.
That’s how Ego Death started out but each album is made differently [from the last]. Feel Good was made with us being at Mac Miller’s house just making a lot of free-form songs. Purple Naked Ladies was more just me and Syd in an apartment making beats together then writing to it. But it just expands. On Ego Death, everyone produced some of it and everyone contributes in different ways for whatever is needed. It’s kind of organic. We try not to force anything.
"Having that youthful energy to a band that already has a youthful sound gives it a whole new breath of fresh air. It’s dope."
Have you gained more confidence as the group has grown around you?
We’ve always had confidence but I’m won’t lie it feels good to have affirmation from certain people now. Especially as our first two albums kind of got a bad wrap and even a little overlooked, so it feels good to break through to some extent.
It must feel good to have had those first two albums to work through things.
Yeah, artists aren’t given enough time to make mistakes and develop. Nowadays if you come out with something a record label doesn’t like, you won’t get another chance.
There’s a lot of interesting music being made at the moment though, what’s your take on it?
I’ll be honest, a lot of the creativity in making black music kind of went away for a while because something like trap was a formula that knew people would rock to regardless. The biggest challenge as a musician is trying to find music that will make people move and I feel like with trap it was a sure fire way of achieving that. When something like that starts happening the answer will be folks out there doing something a little bit different and more creative. It takes a bit of time, because when things are a little bit deeper it can go two ways – people will either think it’s great or think it’s pretentious so they don’t even mess with it. I think what we’re seeing now is a reaction to things being the opposite of creative.