Friday, November 8, 2013 Role Model: Syd Tha Kyd
At 21, DJ and producer Sydney “Syd Tha Kid” Bennett is already a staple in the Los Angeles music scene, and we love Syd. (Proof: She deejayed our #NGFW party last year, and we interviewed her in our first ever issue of Super Nasty.) She stole our hearts as the DJ (and lone female) in the notorious rap group Odd Future, and since then, Syd has teamed up with Matt Martians to form The Internet, a soulful, jazzy hip-hop band. I spoke with Syd at her recording studio, Chateau Marie, where we talked about making money, her signature style, and how far she’s come from recording dudes in her parent’s garage.
(Photos by Cat Roif)
There’s a lot of mythology surrounding Odd Future. The group has been described as everything from an “art collective” to a “hip hip skate crew.” What does Odd Future mean to you?
Odd Future is a few things to me. It’s a family—whether we like it or not. It’s a foundation. It’s a platform for all of us. We all had a hand in creating it, so we all feel entitled to the piece that we have, and it’s fair because we all did something.
Aside from being the sound engineer and DJ, what was your role in the group?
I was the publicist before we had a real publicist. I was the one writing press releases. I created a fake company called Shake Change, and I modeled it after a marketing or branding firm. I built a website, designed it, bought the domain name, and would send the press releases with the header as our logo. People thought that Odd Future was signed to a legitimate branding company, and they thought “OK, they must be doing something right,” and then people started posting our stuff.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
Yeah, I mean I started my first business when I was 14. I was too young to get a real job, but I wanted money. I like money. I would hire a bunch of my classmates and friends and we would pass fliers door-to-door for local businesses. That’s how I paid for all my studio equipment. After that, I started flipping musical equipment on Craigslist. I got into Odd Future and became co-owner of the label and now I own this place, Chateau Marie Studios. My co-owner is also a woman, Talia Rose. Her mom was Tina Marie, which is why this is in memory of Tina Marie.
A lot of your early success was fueled by the internet (pun intended). What’s your relationship to the world wide web? Do you guys have a digital strategy or are you just Millennials?
When I see something cool I don’t think, “Instagram is gonna love this.” I never really did, I use the internet for marketing. I try to leave it at that. I definitely have my private Twitter where I just vent about real shit that I can’t tell the world. I try not to do that, but sometimes it’s appropriate. And it’s my Twitter so… fuck off. [laughs]
Do you think the impulse to share is specific to our generation or do you think that’s just something that people have always done?
It’s human nature to want to share things. I find human connection to be vital. If I spend too much time alone, I’ll get really upset, you know? If our parents were more technologically savvy, they’d be all over it.
You have a very sophisticated visual aesthetic that is instantly recognizable across mediums. It’s jazzy, ’70s psychedelia, mixed with Afrofuturism with a very dark edge. Who’s the resident art director? Where does this style come from?
Matt is our Art Director as a band because art is what comes naturally to him. He does all the drawings you see of us. He’s the one that designs all the album artwork. I just look at myself to make sure I don’t look stupid, but other than that I’m cool.
Your style has clearly resonated with people. Can you tell me about the first time you realized you had a lot of influence?
The first time we really noticed was when we had our first few shows. Our first show ever was at The Echo—300 capacity—we sold it out. I try to downplay myself all the time to stay humble and oblivious. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.
You guys recently evolved into a full band. How does your live performance differ from your recordings?
We’ve been performing the same since we first started—with the same 5 people and same 5 instruments. When it’s performed live, our first album, Purple Naked Ladies, sounded a lot different. For the second album, we knew we wanted the record to have a “live” sound. We got in the studio together and started jamming out like we were at rehearsal and came up with songs like that.
What music do you have on heavy rotation right now?
I’ve been listening to Kelela and Vic Mensa—he has a tape out that’s dope. I’ve also been listening to “Fine Shine” by Chris Brown a lot. I’m the type of person that will listen to the same 6 songs every day. I’ll listen to “Fine Shine” and then I’ll listen to “Off the Wall” by Michael Jackson, because they sound really similar, and I like listening to them back to back. And then I’ll listen to something off the Disclosure album. Random stuff.
We’re a fashion company, so I have to ask about clothes. What’s your go-to look? Is your daily uniform different than the clothes you wear to perform?
Nowadays, I pretty much just perform in a white Pro Club and some Golf Wang jeans. It’s really easy to pack. It’s just a bunch of white tees. I don’t have to think about it. I know I’m gonna like how I look. I like how I looked in the ["Dontcha"] video, so I’m gonna look like that.
Anything else you want to say?
Catch The Internet live at the 2nd Annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at the LA Coliseum on Nov. 9.
Martine Syms is Nasty Gal’s Web Designer and self-proclaimed Conceptual Entrepreneur. Her specialties include the color purple, modern comedy and strategic swearing. Find her at martinesyms.com or talk to her @martinesyms!