Take Five: Before Their Bonnaroo Debut, The Internet Talks Solo Projects & Life After A Grammy-Nominated Album
For The Internet's front woman Syd Tha Kyd, she feels most confident when she's decked out in an all-black ensemble, she divulges on the backseat of a golf cart, speeding down a dusty V.I.P. pathway at Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival. And on this 92 degrees day, where most festival-goers have opted to go topless or rock outlandish threads to turn heads, she's sporting a plain black t-shirt and jeans combo paired with oval, silver-rimmed shades and a crisp pair of Old Skool Vans. Seemingly unbothered by the blazing heat, a piping hot cup of tea keeps her left hand busy while she coaches her sweet-natured vocals through warm-up runs. At all times, Syd is unapologetically Syd: cool, calm, and collected, just like musical bliss her and her crew naturally emit on wax.
Two years ago, most people would think you were referring to the world wide web if you mentioned The Internet in conversation. But that surface-like sentiment changed last year, when the six-piece band consisting of Matt Martians (on production), Patrick Paige II (on bass ), Christopher Smith (on drums), KiNTaRO (on keys), and Steve Lacy (on backing vocals and guitar) dropped their soulful, vibe-heavy LP Ego Death that put them on the mainstream map. Since its release that resulted in critical acclaim and a well-deserved Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album, the tight knit crew have made major headlines, traveled the world, and built a successively growing fan base off of good vibes. It's the kind of fascinating and organic progression that has allowed this writer to see Syd wander the streets of Madison Ave. of New York City unnoticed, and experience a full circle moment when a teenager spots the band at Bass Camp Bonnaroo and excitedly asks to snap a photo.
Here, VIBE chatted with three-fifth's of the crew (Syd, Matt, and Steve) before taking Bonnaroo's This Tent to talk how they're handling their new-found fame, some of the most fire festivals they've experienced, and what's next for the band.
This time last year, you guys had just put out Ego Death, and a lot has happened. People now know The Internet isn't just Syd, you guys have a Grammy nomination under your belt, you're selling out shows, traveling the world. How does it feel?
Matt Martians: I don’t know. It definitely feels like it’s unreal. It’s like a blur, honestly, because we're still in it. So everyday it’s like I have those moments where I’m like "Dang, we're really doing it." I have those moments pretty often, which makes me more so grateful, it’s more like wow, more so humble by it. It’s interesting.
Syd Tha Kyd: It has been insightful personally. I think I’ve grown a lot as an artist with my confidence and I'm learning to accept the talents that I have, the voice I was given. Once you accept it, then it’s all about just making it as good as it can be and still your own.
What about you Steve? You just graduated from high school so that has had to be a crazy dynamic.
Steve Lacy: It is because some people that I grew up with, and went to middle school with, now see me as, I don't know, this famous person. But I don’t like to see myself as that so it’s kind of weird.
With that so-called star status comes a new way they treat you I'm sure
SL: Kind of. I just know it’s not the same. I think they want to have regular conversations, but it just ends up…
SK: "So what’s up with The Internet, man?"
SL: Yeah, every time. I’m like, "Bro, how are you? How’ve you been?"
MM: We be wanting to talk about dumb s**t, they be wanting to talk about…
SL: I know! "Bro how’d you get into this?"
SK: Like, "When’d you start?" And it’s always interesting when they start asking you that. Thankfully, I never really went through it because all of my homies at the time, were more famous than I was.
MM: And you had a buffer area, you know, with Odd Future being known. If you were in Odd Future now, it would be something that you’re the face of. Because you were famous to some extent with Odd Future, so you kind of had time to adjust, in spite that a lot of n****s in this type of situation are starry eyed. You’re more so like, "I know how this s**t goes." I think that’s at a early stage, that’s the biggest weapon. It’s almost like I wish I knew what I knew when I was younger. You already kind of had that s**t, which is good.
You all have been doing a lot of festivals lately. What’s been your favorite experience so far?
MM: Man, what’s that festival we did that was fire? Oh, Sasquatch was fire!
Is it hard to translate your live shows for a bigger audience? I’ve seen you guys in smaller, more intimate venues, but I’ve also seen you guys rock out at Broccoli City last month.
SK: That was really good too. All we really try to do is just perform the most energetic songs we have, just to cut the set time. And then you have to have a lot more confidence to perform at the festivals. So that’s the main thing.
What are you guys most excited about for your show today?
MM: We haven't played Bonnaroo before so that’s what we’re excited about. Well, that’s why I’m excited.
SL: I’m excited because this is my first festival. And it’s my first time playing with my new guitar Ruby.
MM: Oh! New name?
SL: Yeah, Patrick named her.
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Are you guys camping?
SK + SL: No.
MM: We camping in a bed [laughs].
So, what's next? Is there a new album in the works perhaps?
SK: Everybody’s working on solo projects right now. Steve’s got one, Patrick’s got one, Jameel’s working on one, Matt’s working on one, too.
MM: Yeah, everybody’s got their own thing going on. I think it’s one of those situations where Ego Death is still growing, like n****s been hearing about that s**t everyday. You just got to try and milk it and let it run its full, natural course. And I think the benefit of doing solo albums is that you’ll see what everybody brings to the group, what we do individually. It may be completely opposite, but it’s all good because when you hear it, you'll be like, "Oh, he’s in The Internet." It's weird, but you’ll know.