Feature: Matt Martians – Is this really the The Last Party?

After founding Odd Future and The Internet, Matt Martians retreats to his own world, and invites us all along for the ride. We sit down with the elusive artist for a play through of his new record...

Matt Martians by Theo Martins

It’s a grey day in Manchester, UK. Just one night earlier The Internet had performed a sold out show in Manchester’s Academy, one of their final shows after a 6 week long tour that has seen the band perform everywhere from Tokyo to Paris and almost everywhere in-between.

The bands founder, Matt Martians, is sat in his apartment-slash-hotel-room and sprawled across the counter is a bottle of Chanel No. 5, a MacBook, some Bose over-shoulder headphones, a few photo print outs and a silver gel pen. A few days prior Martians had turned in his album to his record label, and now he’s adding some hand-drawn details to the back cover to accompany it.

The album, ‘The Last Party’, is Martians second album as a solo artist. Though in reality it’s somewhere around his 10thalbum overall, as he’s quick to mention.

“People forget, I’ve done 4 internet albums, 3 jet age [of tomorrow] albums, my solo album [drum chord theory], the [Kilo] Kish shit, the Odd Future shit.”

“I’ve done so much as a producer already”

He’s right, as a man who’s spent most of his career intentionally shunning the limelight, it’s not easy to grasp his discography.

For the uninitiated, here’s the rundown – Matthew Martin also known as Matt Martians was born in East Point, Georgia and started his music career as a founding member of the now infamous collective “Odd Future” alongside some guy called Tyler The Creator, as well as Earl Sweatshirt and DJ/Singer/producer Syd. Matt and Syd teamed up to form The Internet, working on 4 albums including the Grammy Nominated ‘Ego Death’and last summers ‘Hive Mind’. Alongside all of this Matt also squeezed in production duties for Soulja boy, Goldlink, Kari Faux and Andre 3000 amongst many others.

3 years ago Matt dropped his first solo album, ‘The Drum Chord Theory’, which ended with him claiming ‘This is like my only album ever’. So why the U-Turn now? He replies in his typically direct way.

“People change.”

That change is evident throughout The Last Party. Song titles including “Out The Game”, “Movin’ On” “Southern Isolation 2” and the titular “The Last Party” all suggestive of a man shedding himself of his current situation.

Listening to the album there’s a notable shift in sound in comparison with his previous works – Matts vocals are thicker and fuller, there’s a new confidence to his delivery. Guitars weave in and out of spaced out synths, while tracks switch between multiple genres and styles within a single song. Saxophone and flutes act as thread, tying the multiple sonic strands together. The jarring changes in structure and sound give the record a distinct psychedelic edge.

Album opener “Out The Game” hears Matt singing against a slinky bass guitar, Rhodes piano and guitar licks, proclaiming “I’m out the game forever, don’t wanna feel this way” as a wave of synths wash over the track.

“This track is about a girl I didn’t want to pursue, I didn’t want that… She knows.” Matt explains, whilst claiming that if this album rings true, it’s because it is.

“Everything on this album is true, every thing. Some of it’s about girls in my past, some [songs] are about recent shit. The album kind of started as one thing – me saying I’m done with relationships. But towards the end my perception changed a little.”

Movin’ On is a collaboration with internet bandmate Steve Lacy. A sun soaked reverse-breakup anthem for the summer “You left me for dead, but it didn’t kill me… Kill-shot to my heart, but it didn’t hurt me.” and it may prove to Matt’s most relatable song to date. Meanwhile ‘Off My Feet/Westide Rider Anthem’ lays some heavy drums and spaced out backing vocals.

“This song is about me looking for a girl that can be there for me” he interjects.

That’s why it has that lyric ‘can you hold me down through these trying times, I look to you to rarely rest my soul’.”

“In a lot of relationships I’m always the one that’s there for someone, that’s cool, I can be that guy, but I need someone to be there that 1% of the time when I need support. I haven’t had that, I need that, so this song is me searching for an equal, someone as strong as me, where we can support each other.”

It’s a rare moment of vulnerability from the typically aloof artist. And it’s true, Martians has spent most of his career nurturing new talent and supporting others.

Mentorship

We take a detour from the album as he talks about some people he’s mentoring including British artist and Asperger’s Legend – Marcus Graham with whom he’s in regular contact (‘He emailed me today and I told him happiness comes from within’). “Fade ‘em all”, a rising punk band from Houston, Texas, who share production duties on this album (‘They’re dope. They’re gonna be big, I can tell’), and Asher Etlin, a 17 year old fan that Matt asked to play on the album (‘He’s super talented and super chill, so I asked him to play on a few songs. All the horns on the album are him’).

I press him on his talent-spotting skills further, is management and mentorship where he see’s his future?

“I’ve learned so much from being in The Internet. I want to be that guy that finds new talent and passes the torch. I wanna show these artists coming up that they can do it and remain who they are, without signing bad deals or doing features”

Of course, none of this is new.  Matt has already mentored man of the moment Steve Lacy, whom Martians discovered whilst he was still at high school.

We return to the album and the striking “Pony Fly (feat. Steve Lacy)” rings out with its electric guitars and Prince-esque hook, showcasing a more mature Martians than on his previous outing. More surprising is the songs second half, the early 2000’s trip-hop inflected instrumental co-produced with Mac DeMarco, who plays bass on the record – and the collaboration sounds as dreamy as you’d imagine. The refrain calls Matt’s mantra “Casual, that’s how I wear my clothes, casual… If I gotta wear a suit I won’t go” Matt interrupts keenly…

“It’s true. I’m not going places like that. That’s not me. I don’t need that.”

 I ask if that has any impact on his positon in the industry?

 “No.  I don’t care. I could start going to parties and chill at these famous musician’s houses, I could start doing features, I could be posting my life on Instagram and become a ‘celebrity’. Or I can take a backseat and enjoy my life and make art”.

His mention of Instagram prompts me to question further about his disappearance from the public eye after deleting his Twitter and Instagram accounts. To which he responds…

“People always be saying ‘Where have you gone?’ and I’m like, no where. I’m still here. I’m good, I’m doing what I’ve always done. If you really wanted to find me, you could.”

With these words, suddenly the context of the album “THE LAST PARTY” begins to come into view…

“Nobody is entitled to your time. No-one has a right to demand that you update them on your life.”

If this sounds negative, he doesn’t mean it to be, as he continues to explain it’s a message of self-love and relieving yourself of pressures

“You have to be there for yourself first. Sometimes you need to cut yourself off, and let the people that really care find you in other ways.”

“Let me tell you, i’ve felt a lot happier since I deleted my Twitter. I didn’t even realise at the time but that shit was bringing me down. Humans aren’t made to be looking at all these images 24/7, people fighting for attention, it’s poison to our system. I’d really be looking at it sometimes, caring what other people think… then I realised nahhh… this shit sucks”

Elsewhere on the album Matt speaks about trips to London, to cartoonish effect (Look Like) in a tale of a relationship gone wrong. But again, one can’t help but notice the last two tracks seem to be dedicated to moving towards introversion. The self explanatory “The Last Party” is a celebration of winding down and taking control of your life, alongside “Southern Isolation part 2”, another album highlight & a romantic ode to loving oneself that sounds like Sade crossed with Steely Dan, as Matt affirms “I don’t feel alone any more, I have myself”

Retirement?

The albums focus on moving on from current situations could easily be construed as Matt shunning society. His band, The Internet, seem to be bigger than ever, and I question if he’s really going to drop that for a quiet life?

 “We’ve [The Internet] hit that level now, where I can be out and I hear our songs in the store, or on the radio. We can sell out shows around the world but I can still walk down the street and people don’t recognise me.”

When if that bothers him, and he seems like he genuinely couldn’t give a fuck.

 “I’ll talk to people and ask what music they’re into and sometimes they say ‘The Internet’ and they don’t realise I’m in the band, and I stay quiet. I’ve realised it’s not important. People enjoy the music, but they don’t care who’s in the band. And they shouldn’t, those things shouldn’t be part of your perception of a song.”

 As the album finishes I point out to Matt that the vocals on this album feel fuller than on previous outings.

“I decided I wanted my voice to be clearer on this album. I wanted everything to stand out. I used the Mic that we used on [The Internet album] Hive Mind. .”

 “With Drum Chord Theory I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to get out. With this album I concentrated more on making a good album. Syd said she loves this shit, my mom says she loves it. That’s two people that never say anything. So that’s how I know I did good.”

But what about the vulnerable lyrics, and seemingly depressing song titles? Is he feeling okay?

“I’m good, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. That’s what this album really is, it’s me showing who I am. All of my songs have always been real life, but this time it’s really talking about stuff that I wouldn’t normally talk about publically. That’s because I want privacy, so I think ‘here, have these songs, this is how you can learn about me’ and then that’s it. I can keep the rest to myself and I don’t need to talk about those things any further.”

 And if that’s what he set out to do then he’s achieved it. The record has a a deeply personal feel, both lyrically and sonically. A listen instantly adds new context to previous Internet outings – revealing in a flash the elements that Matt contributed to their success. High pitched backing vocals, relatable lyrics, phased and flanged instrumentation, wacky synths and genre bending guitar riffs create an experience full of distinct character.

 And after this new album, what about The Internet?

“The Internet’s forever”

Article by Aaron Whyte

Matt Martians – The Last Party is out on all platforms on April 26th