The Odd Future family runs deep. It’s so deep that when Matt Martians met Hal Williams (aka Pyramid Vritra) and brought him into the Golf Wang fold, he was accepted on the strength of talent and a strong cosign. The Jet Age Of Tomorrow was born, also known as the Super 3 when it comes to production (though there’s only two of them), and their most recent effort Jellyfish Mentality houses a slew of electrocuted beats that don’t really need a rapper mumbling all over them. But that’s the beauty of it; Jet Age doesn’t make music for rappers or anyone else for that matter. They make it for themselves and the slightly off-kilter fan base that enjoys them. In speaking with Matt and Hal, the two discuss their beginnings, the definition of a “classic” and how to decode the language of Odd Future.
Life+Times: So how did you guys link up?
Matt Martians: Well, when I was doing music back in Atlanta, I was already in Odd Future. Hal and them, they were all producers and stuff already, so they knew about our stuff back when Odd Future was just on MySpace and like, people knew about us but not a lot of people. [Hal] just hit me up one summer when I was in Atlanta and was like, “Yeah, I like your music.” That was before anybody had liked anything I’d done so I was like, “Yo, come through. Let’s do some music.” Ever since then, we’ve just always been cool.
Hal Williams: Yeah.
L+T: So when did you decide the Jet Age project was in the cards? And where did you guys come up with your name?
Matt: That’s Hal, Hal came up with the name.
Hal: Yeah. I was just honestly thinking of a few. There were some other ones that didn’t work like… What were we going to be? Junior Varsity at first?
Matt: Yeah, it was gonna be Junior Varsity. And then it was like, it was Night Society, it was Junior Varsity and it was The Jet Age of Tomorrow. The Jet Age of Tomorrow just kind of stuck because we were already making like, spacey beats so we were just like yeah, we’ll call it Jet Age.
L+T: Hal had mentioned there are two people in the Super 3, because there used to be another dude. But you decided that production-wise, you still called it Super 3.
Matt: Yeah, it was cool. It’s just, I don’t know. It’s also like a brain fuck. They’re like, “It’s Super 3, but it’s only two of you!” And I’m just like, “And?!”
L+T: So when Hal came into the Odd Future fold, did you guys have a ceremony? Like, did he have to wear a special gown?
Matt: No, you just, you come around. You start hanging around people and they understand and feel like, “Cool…” I don’t know. Getting around Odd Future is one of those things where, we’re very tight-knit but, if somebody is in the group and we see that they’re cool and somebody is close to them and trusts them then, you know, we’ll accept them in and it’s not too much of anything.
Hal: Yeah, when I first came out here and met all of them, it was really like a big family. Everybody was real nice and just welcoming and accepting. They were just chill overall.
L+T: That’s really nice. It would seem like it might be otherwise. Not like, in a negative way but…
Matt: You know what’s funny? The funniest part about Odd Future is people wonder how we haven’t fallen apart like other groups. You know, people think Odd Future is the crazy ones with rap music and stuff, but we’re actually the most tight-knit and morally driven group ever! We haven’t broken up and nobody’s had beef. You look at other groups – I’m not saying anybody specifically – but they don’t really stick together. The industry, people telling them what they need do, it usually splits them up because somebody will get in one person’s ear and tell them that they’re better than the band or the rest of their friends, and it breaks up. But when you have stuff like what we have with Odd Future, you can have a group like another Wu-Tang. Where, Wu-Tang still does stuff…you know, they have disagreements but they still do stuff to this day and they’re almost 40. They are 40! They’re in their 40s.
L+T: Right. That’s very true. The whole Jet Age concept came about because you guys were making beats for Tyler, but then they ended up not being used, right?
Matt: Yeah. The whole concept was like, when I first was making beats, Tyler and them was like, they loved the beats. That’s how we got cool, he was just a fan of my music. But it was just like some of the stuff, they just couldn’t rap over, and I got it. I didn’t take it any type of way, I was just like, “I understand what y’all saying.” But you know, I understand them being like, “Well these are good beats and I really think people should hear them. I know there’s people out here that actually would appreciate this.” So, I don’t know. I think it came from that. When we put the first album out, Voyager, it was kind of just some random-y album. It was no intentions behind it. We didn’t want to get big from it. We just wanted to put together a bunch of spacey beats and it wasn’t even supposed to be on OddFuture.com. When I told Tyler that I put it out, he insisted that I put it on there.
Hal: We were surprised that it even got on there.
Matt: Yeah. Because I told him not to, but he insisted that we do it.
L+T: That’s cool how all that came together. When you see producers out there who just pull samples for the sake of, “Oh it sounds weird,” but they know nothing about the music that they’re sampling, does that make you mad, considering a lot of what people are recklessly sampling, you’re a genuine fan of.
Matt: Nah, not really. It doesn’t really make me mad because my whole thing is, people express their music in different ways. You can’t really dictate how people want to express it. You know, I choose not to make music with those types of people if that answers your question. But it doesn’t bother me. I just don’t associate or make music with people like that, you know?
Hal: Yeah. It doesn’t make me mad, I just wouldn’t work with someone that would do that. People are going to listen to what they’re going to listen to. Everything is for somebody out there, but if I personally just don’t like it or don’t agree with what they’re doing, then I more than likely just won’t work with them.
L+T: It’s almost like there’s a competition for “weird” right now.
Matt: Yeah, yeah! It’s definitely a competition for weird, but I think it’s almost to the point where it kind of made critics and music publications kind of get overshadowed in a way. Because now, you know they want to compare shit like, “This is aight,” and “This is good but this sounds better. I’ve heard better.” Now I like it because it’s making the critic null and void because how are you going to tell me what I’m making is not good? What are you listening to? Why are you calling this weird? It’s funny that people call me and Syd’s music weird or me and Hal’s music weird, but yet in the ‘70s, our music would be considered disco music or just some real funky shit. But now it’s weird because of the standards that we have. So you know, it’s all about how you look at it.
L+T: Do you consider yourself part of cloud rap or do you not?
Matt: Nah, because we don’t rap, so I don’t consider us a part of cloud rap because we’re not rap-based. The only people we work with that are rappers, we know. They’re our friends, so it’s not a matter of… Most of our music is instrumental anyway so I wouldn’t consider us that. I would say when people do rap, they can call it cloud rap but I don’t know. I would like to think our stuff is a little bit more complex than the basic what people think cloud rap is, you know?
L+T: What the hell is cloud rap anyway?
Matt: I think cloud rap is just people rapping over chill beats. They want to call it cloud rap because people feel like they have to categorize everything.
Hal: I just honestly make whatever I feel. So whatever genre it ends up being in is whatever. I don’t think of something in terms of “Oh I want to make a beat that sounds like this…” or, “I gotta use a sample that people think is cool!” Like, it doesn’t even matter.
L+T: Yeah, there are too many classifications. Like, chill wave. Are you chill wave? [laughs]
Matt: [laughs] From what people say chill wave is, I don’t like chill wave. I just think people feel like they need to categorize everything to give them a reason to say, I don’t know. I think it’s just about, it’s blogs lately. I mean, I think it’s about the way the media is taking it as far as blogs. They come up with names. They come up with little sayings that just kind of spread like cloud rap, trap rap. It’s just little sayings that slowly build and become something of a genre. Like, trap is not a genre, but now it’s a genre.
L+T: Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean, trap used to be where you lived! Where you sold…
Matt: Yeah! Trap is where you go buy drugs, you know what I’m saying! It wasn’t a genre, but now it’s like, drug dealer music I’m assuming. But yeah, I get it.
L+T: So what were you like as kids? Were you awesome or…scary?
Matt: Who me? [laughs] I’ll let you go Hal.
Hal: I was quiet. I’m still quiet. I drew a lot. I used to draw video game systems.
L+T: Wait, what?
Hal: I used to draw video game systems a lot, and tree houses and stuff like that.
L+T: So you’d draw like a Sega Genesis? Like the system itself?
Hal: I would make up systems and all the parts for them and just stuff like that. I went through the process of getting patents, but like halfway through I stopped caring about it. Like, I got the patents but I just didn’t finish.
L+T: Wait, so you patented certain video game systems?
Hal: Well like, just ideas and like, carts for it.
L+T: How old were you?
Hal: Um… 13, 14.
L+T: Holy shit.
Hal: I was just really into it at that part of my life. But then I couldn’t get the funding to do all that I wanted so other things just kind of took over and I ended up skating more and making more beats and music kind of became the main focus later on in life. I guess.
L+T: So are your patents still good?
Hal: I have no idea! I’ll probably get back into it a little bit later after I’m older.
L+T: What about you Matt?
Matt: I was a goofy ass kid. I always had a gift of drawing, drawing was always my gift. Like, music is kind of like my second thing I guess you could say. But growing up, I was just always really gifted at art. I got into music when I was a teenager. I’ve always been into good music…my dad raised us on The Commodores and all kind of shit. I was also a jock. I used to play basketball, I was ranked in the state. I was just really good at basketball. But yeah, I was a goofy kid. Pretty much the same dude I am now, besides school.
L+T: So with Jellyfish Mentality, how do you define it, Matt?
Matt: Well, the title came from when I woke up one morning and I was thinking to myself. My friend had got me this fake aquarium for my nightstand, and I woke up and was just looking at it. I was like, “Man, it’s crazy. Jellyfish have the easiest life! They don’t have to do anything! They just have to float and look pretty, and if anybody messes with them, they can just sting the fuck out of them!” I think that’s the coolest life, just being able to float free. Basically it’s about being able to float free, freely without a care, but then knowing that you can defend yourself at the same time. That’s really what it’s about, so I looked at it from that perspective with that. And then with the album, every Jet Age album is just random stuff that we make over the period from the last one, so just things that go under the realm of what the whole base of what the jellyfish mentality is. It’s kind of flowing and kind of freeform.
L+T: And also, people are secretly scared shitless of you.
Matt: Yeah, that’s another reason. Jellyfish are like my main fear so, that was perfect.
L+T: Are they really?
Matt: Yeah, I think they’re really cool though.
L+T: I know you guys give out your music for free and this album was a free release. What do you see is the usefulness in doing something like that?
Hal: I feel like either way the music needs to get out, and at the end of the day, if you actually care about the art of music and just things like that…I honestly enjoy making music, it’s what’s fun for me. And either way, whether for money or not for money, I still want it to be released and I want it to reach the people that it needs to reach because people need things to go with certain situations. Maybe they haven’t come across a song that exactly fits the situation and they need something that could work for that or whatever.
Matt: Why do we release it for free? Because we just want people to have it. We never made Jet Age to sell or get money from it.
Hal: Yeah, it wasn’t about money. It never was about money.
Matt: Just to get the music out to people, weird music that if people want to hear it, they could hear it. If they didn’t, they didn’t, but I wanted people to have access to it, you know?
L+T: Who are some artists that you would want to produce for when Super 3 starts doing more production for people outside of the Odd Future camp?
Matt: Uh, I don’t know. I’ve worked with pretty much… well, Jamiroquai. But that’s different.
L+T: Oh yeah, you love Jamiroquai, right?
Matt: Yeah. I don’t know about rappers. I don’t really listen to rap like that.
Hal: Yeah, I don’t really want to work with any rappers.
L+T: Do you guys not like hip-hop anymore?
Matt: Not that I don’t like it, it’s just not inspiring. It’s way more inspiring to…
Hal: I’m not into hip-hop right now.
Matt: It’s just like, nobody’s telling me nothing that inspires me. What inspires me is hearing the music play, and hearing a bass guitar that sounds crazy. That inspires me. Somebody singing really don’t inspire me, especially nowadays where I feel like the standard of what’s tight is being lowered and people think everything is classic that’s not that good. I listen to Tribe, though. I still listen to what I have. I just don’t really get into what’s new because first of all, these dudes are my age too. I think that’s the difference. Before when I was a kid, when you’re a teenager and seeing these people rap that are older than you, it’s like, “Whoa!” But it’s like, these dudes are my age now and I realize, they really ain’t on shit. So I don’t want to hear that shit.
L+T: I have so many arguments about people getting prematurely labeled classics and veterans.
Hal: You gotta earn that title!
Matt: These are classic? No, you can’t label nothing a classic! Classic means it has to stand the test of time. Classics do that. You can’t just release something that people like and go, “This is classic!” No, you just like it! It ain’t classic, you just like it. Classic is when in ten years when it comes on, it gives you that same feeling. I think N.E.R.D. In Search Of is a personal classic, because every time I hear In Search Of, you feel like it is 2002 and you just got the album.
Hal: Yeah, same here.
L+T: How does that fit being part of, or labeled as such by everybody else, a hip-hop collective like Odd Future?
Matt: I guess the difference is when I do hear Odd Future raps, they rap about stuff that only we would know. And that’s what people don’t know. Like a lot of lyrics that people don’t get, they’re like, “What’s that even mean?”…we get them. Because like I said, it’s relatable. I can’t relate to a lot of artists but I can relate to my friends, because when I hear them rap, when I hear Hodgy and he’s rapping about stuff that he has problems with, I know because I know Hodgy personally. So when I hear the music, it’s a little bit deeper to me and I know the person that made the beat. So it means a little bit more to me than the average person rapping about their snapback and smoking a bunch of weed, which I don’t give a fuck about, you know?
L+T: If you were to act reckless one day and start purchasing some crazy stuff, what would you buy? What would be your rockstar moment?
Matt: Oh, my rockstar moment is buying a house with random rooms. I’m having a trampoline room, a sneaker room… Like, a room where it’s just a big trampoline. I want to have a wacky ass house. I think that’s the type of shit to put money into, cool shit like that. Because buying cars and other dumb shit is really pointless, but I want to have a fun place where I can go home and feel like I’m never leaving this place. You don’t even need to have that much money to be able to do that. People don’t realize that.