The Making Of The Internet’s Instant Classic ‘Ego Death’

I don’t love you no more/I don’t love you no more

The Internet, an alternative R&B band founded in 2011 by Syd Bennett and Matt Martin (a.k.a. Syd The Kyd and Matt Martians), is responsible for Ego Death, the album released this past June that carves out a niche sound appealing to hip-hop heads (Syd was Odd Future’s live DJ and Matt was in  formerly of The Jet Age of Tomorrow), critics, and Los Angeles beat scenesters alike. I visited Syd’s childhood home—the same one where much of Odd Future’s early music was recorded—to interview the band.

“It all started with the last album,” Syd told me. We sat at large, wooden table on Syd’s porch, passing blunt after blunt between band members, siblings, and friends. Most of them wore their own band’s merchandise (Which is pretty cool, and you should probably buy some for yourself, here). One of the defining elements of the album is Syd’s voice, but in person she’s quiet—not shy, but always listening. “We weren’t doing anything crazy, but people started to recognize us because we had live instruments and not a lot of people our age are doing that in the music industry.”

“There’s a whole society of Los Angeles musicians, and you kinda gotta do something real to get in on it,” Matt continued. “But recently people have just started coming up to us, saying things like, ‘Y’all are dope, we like your shit a lot.'”

One Los Angeles musician the band is excited about is Stephen Bruner, a.k.a. Thundercat, Brainfeeder’s virtuoso bass player and frequent Flying Lotus collaborator who Kendrick Lamar said was “at the creative epicenter” of this year’s To Pimp A Butterfly. They’ll also be touring with him in Europe with in the coming months. “He’s dope because not only is he a virtuoso, but he’s also just very goofy,” Matt said. “His brother Jameel [Bruner], who’s in our band, is also like that—a lot of musicians who are really good don’t have a personality outside of their work, but Jameel and Stephen are also really cool.”

Used to be you and me, young and in love/Honestly used to think love was enough

“We’re not even making music that much,” Syd laughed. “We’re mostly just hanging out together. We’ve pretty much become best friends, so we’re mostly just hanging out. And talking about life.”

“So how did it work, how did Ego Death end up getting made?”

“It was pretty organic,” she responded. “Maybe Steve would show me a beat, and I’d be like, hey, can I write to that? or [writing partner] Nick [Green] and I would sit in the basement together for a couple of hours and write something, then I’d show it someone else. That’s the best part, really, is being able to collaborate with each other. But you have to be self-sufficient. You have to make music on your own, so that you can make music with other people. All of us do things separately, or have our own little projects.”

Now that I got some cash flow/And I got everything I ever asked for

“I’m not a trained musician. That’s not my strength.” Matt said. He showed up to the interview late, excusing himself for being in the zone while drawing some new album art.  “I can basically take what’s in my head and put it down. Out of respect for musicians, I wouldn’t say I’m a real musician. I’m more of a producer. I wish I could come up with ideas as fast as the younger guys in the band—Jameel and Steve, they’ll just sit down and make a bunch of songs like, right quick. At that age, it’s normal, but now, if you’re making ten beats in a day, then people will be questioning whether you’re on drugs or not. Ten beats is more like a year long type project for me now.”

“I did very little production on this album,” Syd added. “I’ve been mostly focusing on songwriting, but it changes with every album. I only produced one of the songs on this album. I just started making beats again. I’m trying to get back into it.”

“You can have a hit single, sure, but if you can’t perform live, you’re not going anywhere.”

Matt gave me some background. “The Internet was originally going to be me, Syd, [Jet Age collaborator] Hal [Williams] and Left Brain. It was like a goofy idea, we were just hanging out at my house, and we were like, let’s do some weird shit and sing. That’s why they’re on the first album. But then it kind of just ended up being what me and her are doing now.”

Now I don’t even want you/Can’t believe I wrote another song about you

“I used to love playing sports,” Chris Smith, the band’s drummer, reminisced. “But then my coach was too wack. I had to stop. He was just such an asshole.”

“For real!” Syd interjected. “I’ve always loved basketball, but all the regulation shit was what sucked about it. And people would be getting so upset and emotional about it, you know—if we lost, I’d just be like, alright, see y’all later, while everybody else would be crying,” she shook her head, laughing.


“What I love about the game is everything on the court. Whether you’re dribbling, or shooting—the ball don’t lie. It just becomes something else when people get so serious about it. Also when I sense hostility, you can bet that I’ll be out of there. I don’t deal with that. Music is different, and I love that about it, ’cause you can be a trained musician, but what really matters is if you know what sounds good. The ball don’t lie—that’s how music is.”

“So how are you going to make sure that music doesn’t get ruined in that same way for you?” I asked. “Because there might not be an institution that you’re specifically fighting, but I mean, even thinking about how you’ll probably start recording in big studios instead of your basement—”

“Well, the ultimate goal for me,” She paused. “And it’s probably always been this, is to produce and write songs for other people. We’re using our albums as a platform to expose people to our sound, so they come to us to produce for them.”

Matt agreed. “I always wanted to be the guy who had mad shit going on, but you didn’t know it. I want to be behind the scenes. Going on stage is cool, of course, you know—that’s the rawest form of interaction with your fans. If you can kill that, you can write yourself a check for the rest of your life. And like I’ve heard Tech N9ne say—if your live shows ain’t crackin’, you’re not doing nothing. You can have a hit single, sure, but if you can’t perform live, you’re not going anywhere.”

“That’s real, ‘cause I’m figuring that out right now,” Syd started. “I have to catch up, you know, because a lot of people have been doing this for a while, and I haven’t been. I take voice lessons 5 times a week. I’ve been thinking a lot about performing lately as well. And for me, for instance, when I was performing with Odd Future, that energy was so natural, but now I find myself having to put energy into the performance, because our music is more chill. It’s interesting because now, I find that I’m trying to figure myself out as a performer again.”

I faced Syd. “What’s the plan? How are you going to do that?”

She laughed, looked at Matt, then back down again. “I don’t know, man. We’ll figure it out.”

Follow the band on Instagram, Twitter, and see when they’ll be playing in your city—tickets are selling out quick.

All photos courtesy of Alex Bortz

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