Syd tha Kid and Matt Martians are as humble as can be for donning such a ballsy band name. When the two labeled themselves The Internet—the result of a sassy retort when asked where someone can hear their music—after meeting on MySpace in 2007, they never expected to grow into the R&B soul sensation they are, even with more friends joining over the years. As such, their personalities haven’t changed a bit.
“I’m shy when it comes to certain things, but for the most part I’m just quiet and I keep a lot of my thoughts to myself,” says Syd tha Kid. She’s not your usual frontwoman. Forget the outgoing persona or the loud-mouth comments. She’s humble and hushed — and it’s a refreshing change. “I wanted to create music and be known for the music I was creating,” she explains. “DJing is fun, but I wasn’t passionate about doing that. Writing, however, is. I wanted to start producing and writing more. The Internet allowed me to do that. I had to become a singer out of necessity.”
As funny as the moniker is, it requires you reach a certain level of fame for people to Google your name and discover your music. And while The Internet have indeed achieved that success—it’s the second search result to pop up—the band made peace with identity long ago by taking the focus off being known. It’s about making memorable music, not memorable social status.
The third album, Ego Death, suggests the rest of society follow suit. “That comes with the confidence in the music,” says Martians. “As we’re getting better, going to vocal lessons, and getting new people in the band, we were able to make the music we’ve always wanted to make. We’re finally getting all the tools. The first two albums, we were trying new sounds and seeing where we wanted to go. Now we found it.”
That’s why everyone’s face is on the album cover. “It’s unassuming,” says Syd tha Kid. “Ego Death in general is exactly what it says: losing a bit of your ego and becoming more vulnerable to what really matters, who you really are. Egos are also very healthy. You have to have a balance. Sometimes you need an ego to let you keep going. Sometimes you need an ego to let you know that you need to get better. It’s something we’ve been experiencing on our own in different ways.”
Ego Death isn’t all flowery falsettos and lustful love. In the wake of Michael Brown’s verdict, Syd tha Kid penned “Penthouse Cloud,” a heavy reflection on the state of racial equality via loose questioning. Outside of music, the band tries to expand on Black Lives Matter by eliminating negative associations with rap and its culture. “We try to not be the stereotype that people think we are,” says Martians. “Yes, we’re black kids, and yeah, we’re normal. I understand girls look up to Syd. I understand dudes look up to others in the band. The best way to be an influence is to lead by example with your head on straight.”
Amidst this, Syd tha Kid faces extra pressures as a gay individual within a predominantly heterosexual field, and while her songs aren’t vessels to express those experiences, they are work that LGBT kids can look up to with admiration. She doesn’t have many gay friends. She doesn’t jump into activism. “It’s nothing against my people; it’s just what it is,” she says. “You hear that in my music in that I’m not harping on what it’s like to be gay.” For her, and thousands of The Internet’s listeners, being gay isn’t a lifestyle. It’s a part of life, and it doesn’t need to be the focus.
“At the end of the day, we have friends that amounted to the type of success that people always wanted,” Martians says, referring to the big names of Odd Future: Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean. “What they, and we, really want, though, is to make the music they find themselves overcome with and to make enough money off that to get by. That’s it.” By the looks of their current tour and Ego Death, they’ve already got it.
THE INTERNET + ST. BEAUTY + DUTCH REBELLE. MON 9.21. THE SINCLAIR, 152 CHURCH ST., CAMBRIDGE. 8PM/18+/$18. SINCLAIRCAMBRIDGE.COM