Interview: The Hood Internet

bill bodkin gets in the mix…

Like the iconic comedian Rodney Dangerfield, deejays get no respect. Some consider these wizards of the turntables nothing more than glorified cover acts — turning nobs and pushing buttons, playing other people’s music.

But in reality, it’s so much more than that. From understanding beats per minutes to understanding the energy of a crowd to the actual construction of a remix.

Then there’s an outfit like The Hood Internet. The duo of ABX and STV SLV, who have 500 mixes and literally millions of free downloads to their resume, have gone and released their own full album of original songs dubbed FEAT. The twosome have employed some of their friends in the Chi-Town scene and developed a multi-layered and complex yet inherently fun album.

Pop-Break caught up with The Hood Internet and spoke about the creation of their new record, their decision to have a “making of” album and more.

Pop-Break: You guys have had a successful career doing mash-ups of previously recorded material, what was the reason behind the decision to go out and produce a record of your own, original material?

The Hood Internet: We wanted to take the idea of what Hood Internet does and make a collection of new songs, where we collaborate with artists that we’d be likely to sample anyway. We have a history of playing and recording music so the album seemed like a good next step of a musical project.

PB: Was there any fear or anxiety about recording a record of your own material — ranging from can you guys actually create your own original music to will your fans love the end product?

The Hood Internet: A lot of what people like about Hood Internet is the dual-faceted recognizability of mixes we make, and obviously we were conscious that the new material wouldn’t have that. Our fans are generally open-minded so the hope is that they’ll like these songs too. We’ve made a point to let people know this isn’t a complete abandonment of making Hood Internet mixtapes, but it is a record we’re proud to have made with so many sweet artists.

PB: On the commentary track for Critical Captions you said your piece by piece approach to making songs can take songs in a different direction than traditional songwriting might. Can you expound on this thought?

The Hood Internet: This song started as a loose Mellotron-based progression. When we demoed Class Actress’ vocals, Elizabeth had the idea for the key change at the end. That idea inspired a more thought-out arrangement that we had together before Cadence Weapon did his verse. And his verse made us want to change some things further before we went back to record Elizabeth’s final vocals at her living room in Brooklyn. That piece by piece approach yields more variable results than, say, demoing out a mostly-written song.

PB: Also, I thought it was brilliant that you had commentary tracks for each song — what was the inspiration for this?

The Hood Internet: Many people are curious and curious people love behind-the-scenes info. That, and we’re hoping to get discovered to do voiceover work.

PB: Can you talk about the production of the record? You guys mentioned that there was a range of DIY production and professional studio production. Why take this approach? And what was the most interesting DIY aspect/experience of making this record?

The Hood Internet: Much of it was dictated by the individual project. We used studios in Chicago and Brooklyn, but also made bare bones recording setups in people’s homes and apartments. With all our collaborators’ different schedules it would have been extremely challenging to use a single studio for the entire project. For the DIY setups we really enjoyed recording people in spaces they felt most comfortable.

PB: On the commentary track for “Our Finest China” you mentioned that the group The Rosebuds were the first group you reached out to do a guest spot on the record. Why is that.

The Hood Internet: When The Hood Internet was first on the scene, The Rosebuds had hit us up to do a remix of their song “Get Up Get Out,” and they seemed interested in the spirit of collaboration.

PB: You feature a plethora of guest stars on the album, what’s one that you feel is totally under the radar that people should be checking out?

The Hood Internet: Slow Witch is Angela Mullenhour who has a number of bands in Chicago: Sybris, Coins, Touched By Ghoul … her voice is incredible and she really nails the hook on “These Things Are Nice.”

PB: You guys are currently grinding it out on the road — can you talk about your stage show and you separate yourselves from other DJ’s and DJ outfits on the road right now?

The Hood Internet: We’ve done a bunch of different tours this year. One was with Star Slinger and Chrissy Murderbot, an all-DJ lineup. Next tour was with Psalm One and Tanya Morgan, all great emcees. This current run is with Body Language, Kid Static, Oscillator Bug, and we had My Gold Mask on some of the earlier dates. So lineup-wise we really try to keep it diverse. Also on this tour when we drop the songs from FEAT, I’ve got Oscillator Bug and Young Sproindog on synths and bass, respectively.

PB: Of the mixes and mash-ups you’ve created, what are the Top 5 tracks that crowds go nuts for? And which ones do you think are some tracks that are really solid, but people are sleeping on?

The Hood Internet: People have been loving Dizzee Rascal x Cyndi Lauper, R. Kelly x Major Lazer, Eve x Radiohead, Mayer Hawthorne x M83, and Biggie x Penguin Prison. I’ve always loved our mix of Talking Heads x Ellen Allien & Apparat but sometimes it doesn’t go off on the dancefloor.

PB: You guys always seem to be collaborating and doing remixes — what are some exciting projects that are on The Hood Internet’s horizon?

The Hood Internet: Once we’re done presenting FEAT to the world, we’ll be working on some new music. Also working on a new mixtape. Collaborating with some new folks too. I realize I’m not being very specific in this answer.

PB: Finally, a preference question. What artists in your field right now are you guys in awe of? Who’s blowing you away? And if you guys could share the stage and have a mix off with any DJ past or present, who would it be and why?

The Hood Internet: I’m often unsure of what our field even is, but Danger Mouse has always been a bit of an idol — he hit the scene chopping up Beatles samples and moved on to do badass shit like Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells. It’d be cool to do a DJ night with him sometime. Maybe not a mix-off, though. We’d get destroyed!

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites