Q&A: Blunt Talk About “Cocaine,” Odd Futures, Civil Rights & Coming Out Black With The Internet



BY BRIEN EDWARDS The Internet reps the neo-soul wing of the Odd Future party. They were formed in 2011 by Syd Tha Kid [pictured above] and Matt Martians [pictured below, right] who met on the Internet, hence the band name. They have two albums under their belt, 2011’s Purple Naked Ladies and 2013’s Feel Good. In the video for “Cocaine,” Syd Tha Kid took the opportunity to come out publicly. The video was released in November of 2011, a full eight months before fellow Odd Future alum Frank Ocean posted his famous open letter on tumblr. In advance of their show at the TLA on Monday (March 17th), we got Syd and Matt on the horn to talk about how the group came together, why they chose to call themselves The Internet, how the hooked up with Odd Future, and whether or not gay is the new black when it comes to civil rights.

PHAWKER: Let’s start off with why you guys decided to call your group The Internet?

MATT MARTIANS: Simply because we met on the internet. It’s how we first met.

PHAWKER: You two met on Myspace back in 2008, correct?

MATT MARTIANS: Yeah, around that time.

PHAWKER: How did you guys end up getting hooked up with Odd Future?

SYD THE KID: I was running a recording studio out of my parents’ guest house, and I was in a session with someone from Pasadena who happened to know Hodgy [from Odd Future], and Hodgy came to the session. Me and Hodgy hit it off, jived really well. And then, I guess he must have told everybody else about my studio, and one day I walked out of my house and like Tyler and a bunch of people were there, asking if they could use the studio.

PHAWKER: Sounds like Myspace is the creator of everything you guys are today. So, what does it actually mean to be part of the Odd Future collective?

MATT MARTIANS: I would say we’re a lot closer than people would probably think — I’ll tell you that. On a personal level. That’s what I will say. I think that’s why it is still together.

PHAWKER: Drugs and sexuality are prominent themes in the song “Cocaine.” It was also something of a coming out party — literally. What was the message you wanted to come across in the song and the music video?

SYD THE KID: The message behind “Cocaine” was that you don’t need drugs to get that kind of feeling. Most people don’t really understand that. The video was just meant to be artistic. Initially, the chorus came about as a joke, and then I thought ‘Well, how can I turn it from a joke to a positive message?” But yeah, the video was just supposed to be fun and artistic. Visually stimulating.

PHAWKER: In the video, two girls — one of which is Syd — meet and fall in like, they do some lines and trip out at a carnival. When the girl Syd is partying with passes out, Syd pushes her out of her truck and drives away. What kind of response did you get to the video?

SYD THE KID: Our fans liked the video. That’s all I was wondered about. I understand why people might not like it, but we clearly don’t agree. People don’t always agree. We’re not trying to please everyone. As long as we’re happy with what we’re putting out.

PHAWKER: The black community in general, and the hip-hop community in particular, has a well-documented history of intolerance toward homosexuality. That seems to be changing recently in the wake of people like Frank Ocean coming out. Do you agree that is becoming more of the norm now?

MATT MARTIANS: I don’t think it has anything to do with it becoming the norm, but I think people in general are being more themselves, not just being gay, just being okay with your skin tone — you know? — your background, your family. People are just being okay with being yourself. I think people tend to make it a gay thing. No. It’s in general. People who are racist are expressing how they really feel. People are just being themselves these days. And there is way more surveillance, so people see what you’re doing too. You can only hide who you are for so long, so you might as well be yourself. That’s my opinion on that whole issue. It has nothing to do with being gay, it just has to do with people being themselves.

PHAWKER: In that case, do you think there is more support for people to open up and be themselves now?


SYD THE KID: Definitely.

MATT MARTIANS: Everybody wants to be themselves. Underneath, the majority of people are putting up a front of who they are, and they want people like that.

SYD THE KID: We’re all becoming more open-minded.

MATT MARTIANS: Yeah. People want to express who they really are and how they really feel. One of those things where it takes that first person to take that leap and inspire other people to come out.

PHAWKER: Something similar seems to be happening in professional sports — with the coming out of Jason Collins in the NBA, and Michael Sam in the NFL. What are you thoughts on that?

MATT MARTIANS: In sports, it is good because there’s a lot of dudes that are gay that may feel comfortable, you know? It’s not going to be ridicule. They’ll have protection, you know? It’s going to be an issue, but as far as for pop culture, I don’t think that even matters. Jason Collins and Michael Sam aren’t — you know — those dudes. Jason Collins isn’t like a superstar basketball player like that, but if you’re having problems with a superstar, or someone who’s like undeniable? I think it would be a different story, a bigger story than him, but I think it definitely opens doors for that to be a possibility. I think it opens doors sport-wise. I don’t think pop culture really cares.

SYD THE KID: I don’t really know anything about those guys. [laughs] Sorry.

PHAWKER: [laughs] No, no. That’s okay. But, along those lines, there’s been a debate about people saying that there’s not much difference between the black civil rights movement and the fight for equality for the LGBT community. Would you agree, or what would you have to say to those people who do or don’t see it that way?

SYD THE KID: I think they’re completely different. The treatment-level-wise…

Yeah, I think it’s completely different. I have no problem with homosexuality. People choose — not even choose– but people have that lifestyle, but the difference — not to take anything away from it– but, blacks were being hosed in the streets, and openly lynched. Nowadays, people are protected. Maybe [discrimination against gay people] happens, but there’s definitely an outcry against it. So, it’s different.

SYD THE KID: Completely different.

Like, I feel disrespected to this point.

SYD THE KID: Yeah, because at a certain point, being a black homosexual, it is slightly disrespectful to compare those fights right now. At least now. I don’t know too much about the history — the equal rights of the LGBT — Blah blah blah — but I know for a fact it’s not equal.

MATT MARTIANS: For me, I’m not even looking at the history. We’re looking at the movement right now. The equal rights movement — the actual movement is not the same.

SYD THE KID: Completely different.

MATT MARTIANS: That’s not what I’m talking about, son. Both problems go back centuries. I’m talking about the movement — as of now — and how it’s been treated, and how the — quote, unquote — opposing side is treated. [Today] there’s nowhere near the magnitude and depth of hate. Like, [today] people might not agree with [homosexuality], but they just have to deal with it, but back in the day, it wasn’t like that. People couldn’t go into certain areas. It’s just completely different.
SYD: Yeah. People hated blacks [during the Civil Rights era] for I don’t know what reason. Like, most people who hate gays hate them because they’re gay. You know? That’s just being real. It’s just everything about it is different.

MATT MARTIANS: And that’s not a good thing, and that’s not saying it’s fair. This is different. You know what I’m saying? It’s a different type of movement. There’s other things you could compare it to.

SYD THE KID: And that’s not to say gays don’t have it hard because we do. I understand it, you know? I definitely understand it, but it’s just not the same. It’s just not.