When Syd the Kid and Matt Martians of Odd Future opted to form The Internet, they had no idea that people would be so into it. They still don’t really understand it, even as their second project, Feel Good, is about to drop. While Purple Naked Ladies set an electronic tone to the duo’s sound, their latest strips down that formula, bringing more of a live element into the fold. Outside of crafting mind-blowing music, the two are just every day people trying to save up money to buy some grills like the rest of their OFWGKTA counterparts. In this candid interview, Syd reveals she can’t really sing (liar), and they both discuss their unhealthy fascination with Nelly.
VICE: So, are you excited for the Feel Good EP to drop?
Matt Martians: Yeah! We're actually finishing it up this week. I don't know, it's a different type of album, which, I don't know, it's a bit more mature. So yeah, I'm excited about it.
How is it different from the last one?
Syd the Kid: Well, this one's way different, for one, because it's completely live. Like, it's all live instrumentation. And we kind of made it fast. I don't know, like this is kind of the fastest we've ever made a project or will make a project. It's like working with a band has made it much easier and a lot more fun.
What were some of the things you took into consideration after releasing the last project? Were you like, “Alright, we can't make the same mistake twice,” or something like that?
Syd: Well, one thing I told myself was that I wanted to master my next project. It's just a personal challenge I want to accomplish. Also, I think we want to handle the release a lot differently. We're going to be a lot more on top of it. We learned a lot about the music industry through releasing our last one. We're just going to try our best to not make the same mistakes.
Matt: Just you know, put it out in at least a smarter way and where it's more conducive to our fans. The difference between the first album and this album, we kind of know our fan base from going on the road. We know what types of records to really aim for and to really feed. So it's a bit easier, and it's a bit more fun because, it's cool trying to figure out your audience by putting stuff out the best way you can. I don't know.
This project is going to be free as well, right?
Syd: [sighs] Not anymore. [laughs]
Matt: It was going to be free, but honestly, the reason it's not free is because…I mean, it's just the music industry. In order for us to get money for our music, to keep putting out music, we have to sell what we do. We're still like if you find our album and it's for free, we want you to download it. Don't feel like you're going to be a bad person for downloading it for free because we want to give it away for free. But in order for us to be able to make videos of a certain quality, we have to be able to sell music. That's just how it is, you know?
Plus if you give it away, you can't chart, right?
Matt: It can't chart, no royalties, nothing. I think it's a good thing because I think our fans will understand that. Like, we don't care if you download it for free, but we do have to put it up for sale. Especially for people who don't necessarily go on file-sharing websites and go to these, you know, sharing sites. They go to iTunes first to look for music so it's smart for us.
Syd: And thankfully our fan base is different from that of Odd Future's in that our fans tend to be much older and just in general, they tend to appreciate helping out an artist more. You know, the Odd Future fans have parents who will buy them whatever they need. I think at the end of the day, our audience being grown people who can appreciate a physical copy or can appreciate paying for music, is going to help us out.
Do you think you have a similar fan base as Frank Ocean?
Syd: Um, yeah. It's similar.
Matt: It's similar. I think Frank has a lot more older fans than we do. I think we have young, females in college. You know, early twenties, late teens crowd. Going on the road and seeing feedback from a lot of the shows, that seems to be where our music resonates more. I think we do have a lot of the same fans, which is really cool. We have a lot of cool fans. They're very dedicated, for sure.
So which of you two picks up more girls at shows?
Matt: Say what?
Which of you two picks up more girls at shows?
Syd: I'm actually happily taken so I don't, you know, rendezvous and all that.
Matt: I mean, I'm not going to flex.
Syd: Matt isn't extra loud about it; he doesn't try. If it comes along, it comes.
Matt: I'm not out here thirsty!
You're not throwing it out there, right?
Matt: [laughs] Nah, man.
Syd: He's got it under control.
Matt: We're not that type of band, man.
Syd: We'd rather, you know, find a group of intellectuals from the crowd and hang out for a few hours than anything else. We're that kind of group.
How do you guys roll with a crew like Odd Future then?
Matt: They do the same shit we do; y'all just don't see that shit.
Syd: Well to be honest, they are boys, you know? They're young boys, [laughs] so they're still wild. They can be wild at times, but at heart, they're all very intellectual people and they all are very open-minded. Way more open-minded than you would think. Like, Tyler listens to mostly jazz, and Left Brain listens to a lot of meta,l and Hodgy listens to a lot of everything.
Matt: Everything! From hip-hop to metal to...
Syd: Slum Village.
Do you all live together? Are you like Drake and the YOLO Estate? Is there some sort of Odd Future mansion where you all live and stuff?
Syd: No. [laughs]
Matt: We have haunts. Odd Future has haunts. It's like, these three or four places that all of us are always at. If we're not at home, we're only going to be at these four places. So we always see each other. It's not like it's a house, it's just...
Syd: I mean, my house used to be sort of like that. The house I grew up in – me and Taco grew up in – used to sort of be like that but no one was moved in or anything. There were definitely weeks at a time where Hodgy and Left Brain stayed with me. There was definitely every weekend when Tyler was spending the night.
Matt: Even just last week! Like, everybody was at the house like a few weeks ago.
Matt: Just chillin' at her house. Like, Frank on the piano. Me, Syd and Tyler downstairs listening to beats. Hodgy and Left Brain on the porch. It's just, I don't know. If you were to say there's an Odd Future house, their house would definitely be the closest to it.
Have you had any creepy fans sitting outside your house yet? Like, “Hey!”
Syd: No. I mean, I definitely have caught kids looking at me or looking at Travis [Taco] strange while they walk past, and then mumbling something afterwards. But that's the furthest it's gone. No one's ever really knocked on the door or anything like that. But it's the reason I had to build a studio somewhere else. It's the reason that the trap is no longer really the trap. I used to book studio time and now I can't give my address out like that, so…
Right! So Syd, when did you know you had the singing voice of an angel?
Matt: That was the greatest question ever!
Syd: Um, it's funny because I think that's the biggest misconception of 2012.
That you don't have the singing voice of an angel?!
Syd: [Laughs] Nah, I really don't. I just started singing sort of recently. I just started taking it seriously. I recorded my first song singing when I was 16, but there weren't any that really came after that until Purple Naked Ladies. So I don't know, I really just started singing when we made that album. And really, initially I was just singing references, but I got good enough at it where I could use my engineering skills and make it sound good whether it wasn't perfect in real life or not, you know?
You're making yourself sound like T-Pain! Don't lie, you have a nice voice!
Syd: I am! No I actually love T-Pain! But no, that's really all it is. I'm getting better. Like there were a few songs on PNL where I didn't use auto-tune, but for the most part, I just got really good at using auto-tune to where I didn't have to put a lot on. Because obviously, no one really can tell apparently that I'm using it. So that's good.
I think you're being humble.
Syd: Nah, I think I have the perfect combination of engineering and vocal skills to make something that sounds good enough, you know? I can't compete with real singing, I'll say that. I can't compete with real singing.
You're making it sound like you really sing like Ja Rule.
Syd: [laughs] I prefer Nelly...
[laughs] Oh, God!
Syd: Or Pharrell. At least Pharrell.
So who are some of the artists that you guys turn to when you're making music that inspires you to keep going?
Syd: Jamiroquai and I personally go to Erykah Badu and Chin Chin.
Matt: Me personally, I listen to a lot of artists like my friends, that people don't necessarily know but make great music.
Syd: Yeah, we're inspired by a lot of like, low-key Atlanta producers.
Matt: And a lot of low-key L.A. producers.
Syd: Seattle producers.
Matt: Yeah, just a lot of our friends. It's just a whole underground bunch of artists that we rendezvous with that we're really inspired by because we're not those niggas. When our friends is like…Oh, Thundercat, hell yeah!
Syd: Yeah, we've been hanging out with Thundercat lately! He's SO nice. So awesome.
Syd: Just, you know. And he was a big influence on PNL because we were listening to his album the whole time we were making it.
Syd: Quadrant, Amy Winehouse, Katy B.
Matt: Yeah, we was rocking. And I get inspired by like, even niggas in Odd Future. Because you know, their humbleness in making music, a lot of the people that we do make music with are still around and hang out. So you know, they aren't those celebrity people that people expect them to be. I think that humbles a lot of us when we make music, because it shows like, you could still be amongst the people that make really, really good music and still live a regular life. I don't know, it makes you like... We're not too much different than anybody else, we just got an opportunity.
Syd: I, for one, am like the most ordinary person. Like, people look past me all the time because I'm just so blending in. I drive a 98 black Lexus and I always wear my hood and I just like, I'm by myself kind of a lot.
And you also think you sing like Nelly.
Syd: Yeah! I wish I could sing like Nelly. I'll say that.
Well it depends. Is it his Sweat days or his Suit days? Sweat or Suit?
Syd: “Pimp Juice” is one of my favorite songs.
Matt: Don’t sleep on Nelly's Swea/Suit album! That's a really good album! I'm just putting that out there.
Syd: [sings] “'Scuse me, I'm talking to youuu!”
You're making me cry real tears.
Syd: Nelly's giant, man. You can't go against him!
Are you going to get one of those onyx gold teeth that he has?
Syd: One day, one day! You know, to be honest, everyone in OF has been pressuring me to get a grill since they all got theirs at the same time. To be quite honest, I'm just too cheap, so instead I just vibe musically. But one day when I feel like I really have like, $1000 to throw in the trash can or to give to a stranger, I'll just go buy a grill.
You know like, real grills are like 25 grand, right?
You know real, hooked up grills are like $25,000?
Syd: Yeah, that's when you buy it from Paul Wall! We're in L.A., we go to the Slauson Swap Meet and it's a wrap.
So what so far has been the douchiest thing that both of you have purchased?
Syd: Uhhh. I think like, the biggest flex I've ever purchased was a $300 duffle bag. I mean, I'm not really... I don't shop much, so like I could name some studio equipment that you probably never heard of that's worth thousands of dollars, but that to me is a work expense. You know? As far as like toys go, $300 is probably the most I've spent.
True. What about you, Matt?
Matt: After I got my first check, I went to the mall and spent 500 bucks and I couldn't breathe! That's nothing. Like for me to go to the mall, and I'm just like, I'm buying basketball shorts and just dumb shit.
Syd: I definitely stopped worrying about spending money. But like, you know, I was pretty much buying what I wanted. Thankfully I don't want too much. Thankfully I'm never wanting much.
Matt: Most of what we want we get for free anyway.
Syd: That too. So you know, I don't really buy Vans so much anymore. I still do. The Vans I have on now, I bought. Yeah, I got them for 10 bucks, bro! Did I tell you? Wait, no, you were there. I got these for ten bucks, bro! I wear like a 6 ½ in boys. [Laughs] Anyways, yeah. Like, I have a really crazy conscience. My conscience is really active. So I feel bad about spending excess amount of money on things. I think the biggest flex I've ever bought, actually, was I gave my mom a $1000 gift card for Christmas or something.
Syd: But Taco got her a $1000 Louis Vuitton bag so it was like, matched. I put the gift card in the Louis bag and it was really cool.
Syd: The most I really spent has been on my mom and my studio. I'm proud of that.
What are you guys doing for Christmas?
Syd: Matt's going to Atlanta, and I'm going to Big Bear, actually. Right before, with my friends. Well, I'm opening a studio actually. I should probably bring this up because I might as well. I just rented a space with Alia Brockert. She's Teena Marie's daughter. We rented out a studio space to build a studio in memory of her mom, because she has all her mom's studio equipment in storage. I'd recently became really good friends with her and I'd agreed to help her set up a studio in her back house. But it turns out that we weren't able to do that, so she agreed to go half with me on a place. I had been looking for a place to build a studio anyway by myself, so I could sell studio time again. Because you know, I'd been missing it. So that's kind of the perfect situation. So I'm going with her and all of our friends. It'll be really cool.
What are your New Year's resolutions?
Syd: Ooh, I never even thought about that!
Matt: Uhh, my New Year's resolution is to...I don't know. I've been actually thinking about this. I don't know. I would say get healthier, but that's some fake ass shit. Like, “I'ma get healthier. I'ma go work out.” It's worth a try. I'ma try but, I don't know. My New Year's resolution is actually to get my friends on. Like, that's really like, the musicians I work around. I don't know if that's much of a resolution, but I just want next year to be a big year for a lot of people. And try my best to make it a big year for a lot of people I know that have been trying for a long time. I don't know if that's a resolution, but that's what I hope for next year.
Syd: I think what my main resolution will be to work harder. I never think I work hard enough, as much things I have on my plate. But that's just a general one. I think a more specific one might be... Damn it, I had it in my head! I don't know where it went. Um, I don't know. I'm pretty happy. Oh, okay. Maybe, I don't know. That's a hard ass question. I'd have to think about it.
Matt: Dude, that's hilarious.
Syd: But I did have something and I just forgot it. [laughs] Oh, no...I have it! Okay, this is a personal one for me and I think it's just a childhood dream that I never wanted to admit to having, but I think my New Year's resolution is to get a music video on MTV.
Your videos aren't on MTV yet?
Matt: Nah! Because like, our last videos were kind of violent...
Matt: They were like, “Nah.”
Syd: They were like, no one wanted to put them on TV. The first one was me jumping a drugged out girl, and the next one was both of us robbing people. So, you know, they didn't like that.
Matt: But I think the next one...
Syd: The next one is going to be a lot more simple, and a lot more of what we have in our head.
Matt: Our next video will make more sense to where we're trying to go as a band because the next video will kind of introduce the band that backs us and the imaginary friends and everybody that kind of is a part of the future of what we do. I don't think we'll ever go back to the stripped down version of our music. I think from now on it has to be, I don't know. When you put the music out at the level that we're putting it out right now, I don't think there's any way you could back track. You just have to step in that realm whole-heartedly and completely. I think that's the best thing about the new video, is that it showcases the live band aspect. I think our live show has become something with a really good reputation so I want to showcase that. That's the big thing about our band I want people to see is our live set.
Syd: I'm very thankful that we haven't had a bad review yet. I think at first when we have a show that’s 18 and over or 21 and over, it's like, “Oh, we're not going to sell enough tickets!” But then, you realize like everyone in the audience is slightly drunk and that they won't notice that many mistakes. So it really actually works for me! [Laughs] So I get away with a lot of mistakes.
You get away with singing like Nelly.
Syd: Exactly. But you know, I think I get better at my mid-west slang every time I perform. [laughs]
Matt: I like it right thurr!
Syd: I do think I get better, though, every time I perform.
Matt: I wonder when Shania Twain's dropping.