An Interview With: intrnet boyfriend
By Sean Lee
Few producers dare to merge out of their musical lane and even fewer producers can cross genres so effortlessly as intrnet boyfriend. Adopting the moniker in early 2016, intrnet boyfriend has combined his love for hip hop, 8-bit video game soundtracks, and opera (yes, opera) into a seamless musical conglomeration that defies genre. His efforts culminated in June of this year when he released his debut album “press start” an independently produced album that showcased the producer’s lyricism, classical training and beat chops into a cohesive project that made ripples online.
Since June, his minute long Instagram videos have gone viral thanks to a timely feature on the renowned music Instagram @pickup__ and he has become an active participant in West Los Angeles’ music scene. CALMTENT had the pleasure of speaking with the producer over the phone as he was working on new music in his studio.
Could you tell us what you worked on today?
Yeah, this morning I recorded some vocals for a new single that might be coming soon. I’ve been trying to write short snippets every day but haven’t really finished anything as of late. A couple weeks ago I wrote lyrics, recorded vocals over this track that I wrote in May at my grandma’s house and I finally recorded vocals over it today. I’m probably gonna try to do some more recording tonight.
Sounds like a great day! Can you tell us a bit about your musical background?
Absolutely, my parents put me in piano lessons at four years old. I didn’t really practice at that age but stuck with it for around six years. When I was 10 years old, I started taking lessons with a new teacher but still played mostly by ear rather than read the music. She essentially fired me from lessons because I wasn’t fully committed and just really wanted to play video games. I somehow ended up playing saxophone in my middle and high school marching bands, and around that time I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix and started playing the guitar. Halfway through high school I got into singing lessons when my original band teacher was replaced by someone terrible. By senior year of high school my singing instructor, Mr. Boos, suggested that maybe I could go to school for classical singing. I auditioned for the UCLA opera program and got in! After graduating from UCLA, I got really into producing the first year living at my grandma’s house which culminated into “press start.”
It’s been almost half a year since your album “press start” has come out what do you think of the project with six months of hindsight?
I’m proud of it. To be honest I haven’t listened to it much since I put it out because I spent so much time with those songs writing, producing and mixing them. I set out to finish a project and I am very happy with what I ended up making. A lot of the themes that I wanted to talk about with it seem pretty relevant to where I am right now. The idea for the project was to encapsulate the ideas of finding closure and figuring out how to prepare ourselves to go onto new chapters in life. I think the song that sums it up best is the last track “the journey begins.”
In today’s culture music production seems to be stagnating into a cookie cutter model what with the top 40 formula taking over the charts, how do you stay innovative as a producer? Do you find yourself falling into the trap of making the same thing over and over again?
Well, try not to fall into that trap. I’m not sure if I succeed and stay out of it. But I think with any genre of music we can point at any artist and say this all sounds the same but I think most times in that same genre we can point at different artists that are actually innovative. For example, this new Anderson .Paak album is so musically interesting and talks about conversations that are relevant today. As far as staying innovative for myself, I just try and write every day whether it’s for 15 minutes or for 2 hours; the goal is to do a little bit every day. It keeps my brain coming up with ideas constantly rather than defaulting into muscle memory. The thing that keeps it interesting to me is seeking something new to listen to whether it’s classical or old blues or anything in between, there’s always something to learn from any recording.
What does Buster [his dog] think about your music?
Aw man, Buster doesn’t give a shit.
I know that you are associated with the Mango Jacket collective on the West side can you tell us a bit more about that community?
Yeah, those dudes are great. It’s a bunch of musicians from UCLA who were attending school at the same time. It’s just really exciting to have a community of musicians that are supportive of one another in all aspects. We’re also figuring it all out at the same time all while making meaningful music at the same time. They’ve made a space for musicians where musicians can play with new things and try it at a show. To have a community that’s willing to help out a young musician in Los Angeles, a city that probably has the highest ratio of musician to people, is very important and wonderful to me.
What future projects do you have in store for us?
First, my Instagram videos are going to continue for sure. Gonna do a couple full length music videos from “press start.” And a new album is in the works, I have no idea when it’s going to be done but trust me it’s in the works! I definitely will have some singles for you soon. I would also love to tour the west coast sometime this summer.
This piece is by Sean Lee. Follow him on Twitter @Sean_Lee.