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The Internet's Syd On Healing, Plant Parenthood & New Music From Steve Lacy
The frontwoman of GRAMMY-nominated alt-rap/R&B ensemble the Internet opens up about not letting bitterness take root on her sophomore album, 'Broken Hearts Club.'
As with any time someone chooses to put their heart on the line, there’s a chance that it can be broken and kicked to the curb. For a decade, Syd, frontwoman for alt-rap/R&B group the Internet, has used this truth to bravely take audiences on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Listeners have experienced emotional loop-de-loops of sadness, reflection, and sensuality — all punctuated by memorable lyrics and melodies.
On her latest release, Broken Hearts Club, the Los Angeles native is in an even more reflective mood. The 13-track audio motion picture follows Syd as she heals from the worst breakup she’d ever had. The end of the relationship — which intertwined with the pandemic — caused her to completely rethink her place in the world, and within the music industry.
Released in April, Broken Hearts Club — a follow-up to her 2017 debut solo album, Fin — reflects those complex feelings, her signature airy voice cascading over production by Brandon Shoop ("CYBAH") and GRAMMY-winning acts like Troy Taylor ("Fast Car"), G Koop ("Out Loud"), and Rodney "Darkchild" Jenkins ("Control"). Yet, "after writing [it], I couldn’t go out [and perform] with what those songs sounded like,” Syd tells GRAMMY.com of the album's early development, post-breakup. Instead of letting that energy disrupt her peace — and creative process — Syd used Broken Hearts Club as a catalyst for her to practice healing and self-care.
In this exclusive sit-down with GRAMMY.com, Syd operates from a place of honesty. She discusses the importance of not letting bitterness take root, shares advice on finding peace as a plant parent, discusses the future of the Internet, and opines about her favorite record from Steve Lacy’s upcoming sophomore solo effort.
Let’s start with Broken Hearts Club, Syd. What were some of the standout moments you had while recording that you hope listeners have begun to learn after delving into the album?
I want people to hear this album and be reminded to cherish the good moments in a relationship. Even though it’s a project about a broken heart, most of it [contains] love songs. Sometimes we forget that heartbreak only lasts a few months, whereas my relationship, this specific relationship, lasted two years — and it was great for that time being.
Those three, four months that I was hurt, spoiled my memory of this beautiful relationship. I wanted to take this album and make it as beautiful as the union was. [I did not] even dwell on the fact that it ended or that I was so hurt. [Instead] I focused more on the love that we did have, the good times, and the triumphs of overcoming something as painful as heartbreak.
My situation went from a 10 to a one and all I could think to myself was, Dang, what did I do? She says, ‘Nothing,’ and I’m wondering aloud if there was anything I could do to fix it? It was a situation where I thought I must have done something, but all it was was that she wanted to date the opposite sex again. There’s nothing I can do about that. It made me feel hopeless [and] that was so tough.
It is important to protect your energy and live your truth. It doesn’t make sense to waste anyone’s time. In reading about how you dealt with your heartbreak, you became a plant parent. What advice would you give to people experiencing similar feelings who are first-timers diving into plant therapy after a breakup?
Great question! It’s quality over quantity [is how I’d start off.] Ironically, most plants prefer to be left alone. They just want to live. [Laughs] Just give them a little food, give them a little water, and leave their a<em></em> alone.
The hardest plants [in my home] have been the ones that I was too involved in. When you start with one plant, you just want to love on it so much. [But] sometimes the best way to love something is to leave it alone.
You mentioned having some bitterness in those early Broken Hearts Club songs that you were working on. What was the editing process like for you when carving away from those darker entries to get to this lightness that makes up the album?
I had to heal first. I had to dead-a<em></em> stop, go on a hiatus, and purposely not work on the album. Maybe it’s my Zodiac sign, but for me, my favorite form of "revenge" is a success. I said to myself, Well, f</em><em></em> it, I’m going to take this album and make something [out] of this pain. In trying to do that, it only created more pain and more* bitterness.
I would hit the playback and think that it sounded so gross. And personally, I don’t listen to low vibrational music. I love high vibes, music that’s uplifting, [but] doesn’t necessarily have to be happy. I mean Broken Hearts Club is not a happy-ass album. But I don’t really like sad songs, [and] so I wrote two sad songs and said, "This ain’t even me! Who is this? This is the most bitter I’ve ever sounded."
It was a reflection [of how I was feeling], but after writing a song, you get to sleep on it. I couldn’t go out with what those songs sounded like. Instead, it forced me to have to heal first and then get back to the music. "Dear April" by Frank Ocean helped me heal in a therapeutic way. I just cried a lot to that song and it helped me to have a release.
After that, I wrote two bitter songs before writing a third, which was "Goodbye My Love," and ended up on the album. I couldn’t record that song until I had healed. I wrote it in tears. Matter of fact, that beat came in and I was supposed to write to it for someone else’s album, and I had to text the producer to say I couldn’t sing this s<em></em>* without crying.
He was cool, saying, "Don’t worry about it. When the time is right, it’ll work," and that’s what happened. Eventually, I had healed from the relationship and I just had one more song to record…. [When] I could sing "Goodbye My Love" without crying and knew then and there that I had experienced some good healing.
It’s official that the next Internet album will be the final one, but does this mean that it’s an end for the band?
No, no, no. It’s just the last album in this era or iteration of how you’ve come to see us. The band has plans [laughs]. It will be our last Internet album for quite a while because everybody’s really happy and content right now. We’re enjoying life and chilling. We just want to live life before getting back into a studio, which we’re lucky enough to be able to do, so for us to take time off is important.
This is our last album with Columbia [Records], which has been a relationship we’ve been in for 10 years. We’ve been talking about creating our own label [and] signing ourselves. We want to create a situation for ourselves where we can work on our own ideas and trust each other's intentions because we’re real friends.
We don’t need to consult with anybody or play the industry game. We’ve always been independent at our core in just the way we operate. And so I think we’re excited to try a new structure of a deal. Mind you, we have a great relationship with Columbia, but we’re really looking toward the future and I would love for my next solo project to come out on an Internet-led label.
That’s a good segue into learning how you feel about how your music and the group have impacted music lovers around the world?
I hope that what I’ve done, what we’ve done as musicians, which is just expanding our horizons of what music can sound like, has inspired people to continue to live this thing called life. For me, music can sound as simple or as collegiate as you want it to. It can sound as weird or as basic as you want it to. We’ve given creatives, bedroom creatives at that, hope in numerous ways.
The Internet started out in two little bedrooms back in the day. I really hope that, if anything, we’ve inspired people to make the music they want to make just like how our music shaped us.
Speaking of how music shaped you all, I wanted to get your thoughts on that unreleased Steve Lacy song that he performed during 420. Everyone is hyped to hear what’s next from him, but what did you think when you heard it?
That song, which I don’t think has a name yet, is one of my favorites from his upcoming album. It might have been one of the first songs that I heard off his new record. He made it a while back, but it has been everybody’s favorite, low-key. There is another song that he played me that I think is going to close out the record that is ridiculous. It’s just beautiful and gorgeous at the same damn time.
But when I heard the album a few months ago, he said he was just adding some finishing touches. His mom and all of his sisters came through to hear my record before going into the booth to lay background vocals on a song for him. They did a few records, I believe, because his whole family sings — his mom, sisters, everybody.
Now that you’ve exited from the Broken Hearts Club and shared your feelings about experiencing an emotional loss — how do you see your next album shaping up?
I definitely want the next one to be more general topic-wise, more about what have we learned from this past experience. I’m already excited to get started, but I’ll probably wait until next year to get into it once this tour is over and when my deal is actually finished legally.
But just to let you know, I’m really happy to talk about what I’ve learned about myself and how much self-aware, self-confidence, and self-esteem I gained from that experience. I think it is just all-encompassing of knowing who I am, so let me tell you who I am. I think that’ll be the basis of the next album.
Maybe it’ll be self-titled or something [laughs], who knows?
Fresh Off His GRAMMY Win For '662,' Young Bluesman Christone "Kingfish" Ingram Is Just Getting Started
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The 2023 GRAMMYs Effect: Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo & More See Major Sales And Streams Boost After Record-Breaking Show
Take a look at the impressive gains that 2023 GRAMMYs winners and performers made in Spotify streams and album/song sales, from Beyoncé to Harry Styles.
The 2023 GRAMMYs weren't just historic, they were iconic — and the numbers show it.
The telecast itself saw a 30% increase in viewership, with more than 12.4 million viewers tuning into the Feb. 5 ceremony, the best ratings since 2020 per Nielsen data. In turn, several of the night's winners and performers saw major spikes in sales and streams.
Album Of The Year winner Harry Styles returned to the top 10 of the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart, as Harry's House — which also took home the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Album — earned 38,000 equivalent album units in the U.S., a 51% gain. His previous two albums, 2019's Fine Line and his 2017 self-titled debut also made gains, the former up 15% and the latter up 11%.
Kendrick Lamar and Adele also enjoyed increases in sales and streams on several albums. Lamar — who won three GRAMMYs this year, including Best Rap Album for Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers — had a 20% gain for his fifth LP, as well as a 26% gain for 2015's To Pimp a Butterfly, 11% for 2017's DAMN., and 6% for 2012's good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Adele's 30 had a 25% increase in equivalent album units, while her 2015 album 25 went up 14% and 2011 release 21 went up 10%. (30's lead single, "Easy On Me," earned Adele her fifth GRAMMY for Best Pop Solo Performance — a record in the category.)
After Beyoncé made GRAMMY history at the 2023 ceremony with her 32nd win, her Best Dance/Electronic Music Album-winning RENAISSANCE made a huge jump. The album earned 37,000 equivalent album units, up 109%, helping Bey move from No. 24 to No. 11 on the Billboard 200.
Rising jazz star Samara Joy also had a monumental night, scoring the coveted GRAMMY for Best New Artist. As a result, her 2022 album, Linger Awhile, made its debut on the Billboard 200, with an equivalent album units gain of 319% and a 5,800% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S. The project also hit No. 1 on the Jazz Albums, Traditional Jazz Albums and Heatseekers Albums charts for the first time, as well as the top 10 of the Top Album Sales and Top Current Album Sales charts.
Blues great Bonnie Raitt's win for Song Of The Year (for her 2022 track "Just Like That") served as one of the night's biggest surprises, but also served as a catalyst for some serious streams and sales success. The song spiked from about 10,000 daily on-demand streams in the U.S. on Feb. 3 to 697,000 the day after the GRAMMYs (Feb. 6) — a gain of around 6,700% — according to Luminate. The song's sales were even better, gaining more than 10,000% on Feb. 6; the rest of Raitt's discography also climbed 161%, from 333,000 on-demand U.S. streams on Feb. 3 to 869,000 on Feb. 6.
Most of the 2023 GRAMMYs performers also celebrated sales and streams increases post-telecast. Show opener Bad Bunny saw gains on his GRAMMY-winning albumUn Verano Sin Ti (up 16%), as well as his 2020 albums YHLQMDLG (up 11%) and El Ultimo Tour del Mundo (up 8%). One of the songs Bad Bunny performed, Un Verano Sin Ti single "Despues de la Playa," also saw a 100% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S. in the hour following the telecast.
Lizzo delivered a soaring medley of her Record Of The Year-winning smash "About Damn Time" and the title track from her AOTY-nominated LP Special, the latter of which saw a 260% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S. after the show. Special also moved 11,000 equivalent album units, up 52%.
Steve Lacy won his first GRAMMY in the Premiere Ceremony, Best Progressive R&B Album for his album Gemini Rights. He also took the GRAMMYs stage for a sultry rendition of his hit "Bad Habit," all helping Lacy see a 16% increase in equivalent album units for Gemini Rights.
Sam Smith and Kim Petras also celebrated a historic win at the 2023 GRAMMYs, taking home Best Pop Duo/Group performance for their viral hit "Unholy" — marking the first win in the category by a trans woman. That moment, combined with the pair's risqué performance, helped the song see an almost 80% increase in Spotify streams in the U.S.
The heartfelt In Memoriam segment catalyzed stream increases, the biggest coming from Quavo's "Without U," which he sang in tribute to his late Migos bandmate and nephew Takeoff; the song jumped 890% in U.S. streams following the show. Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird," which Mick Fleetwood, Bonnie Raitt, and Sheryl Crow sang in honor of late Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie, experienced an almost 100% increase in U.S. streams.
In other U.S. Spotify stream gains for performers, Harry Styles' "As It Was," saw a more than 75% increase; Brandi Carlile's "Broken Horses" saw a more than 2,700% increase; DJ Khaled's star-studded "God Did" (featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and John Legend) saw a more than 650% increase; Mary J. Blige's "Good Morning Gorgeous" saw a more than 390% increase.
Streaming numbers are from DKC News, a PR representative of Spotify.
12 Classic Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs, From The Heartwarming To The Surreal
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Here's What Harry Styles, Brandi Carlile & More Had To Say Backstage At The 2023 GRAMMYs
Backstage at the 2023 GRAMMYs, established and emerging stars alike — from Harry Styles to Samara Joy — opened up about what Music’s Biggest Night meant to them.
Like every edition of Music’s Biggest Night, the 2023 GRAMMYs featured a wealth of funny, touching and inspiring onstage speeches — both at the Premiere Ceremony and the main telecast.
But artists tend to express themselves differently, more intimately, backstage — and this certainly applied to GRAMMY winners and nominees at this year’s ceremony.
In the litany of videos below, see and hear stirring, extemporaneous statements from artists all over the 2023 GRAMMYs winners and nominees list, from Album Of The Year winner Harry Styles to Americana star-turned-rocker Brandi Carlile to Best Global Music Performance nominee Anoushka Shankar and beyond.
Throughout, you’ll get a better sense of the good jitters backstage at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 5, and hear exactly what the golden gramophone means to this crop of musical visionaries.
The list of videos begins below.
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Watch Kim Petras, Muni Long, Steve Lacy & More React To Winning Their First GRAMMY
Many first-time GRAMMY-nominees became first-time GRAMMY-winners on Sun. Feb. 5 at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Hear the first-time winners react after their GRAMMY-winning moments.
Many first-time GRAMMY-nominees struck gold at the 2023 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 5, where they received their very first golden gramophones.
Among the first-time nominees to become GRAMMY-winners were Samara Joy, winner of two GRAMMYs for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album; Steve Lacy, who secured the GRAMMY for Best Progressive R&B Album for Gemini Rights; Kim Petras winning alongside Sam Smith for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with "Unholy", and Germaine Franco of Encanto. Hear what these winners and many more had to say when they spoke with The Recording Academy and press after their GRAMMY-winning moments.
Head to live.GRAMMY.com all year long to watch all the GRAMMY performances, acceptance speeches, the GRAMMY Live From The Red Carpet livestream special, the full Premiere Ceremony livestream, and even more exclusive, never-before-seen content from the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Samara Joy, GRAMMY-winner for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album - Linger Awhile
Steve Lacy, GRAMMY-winner for Best Progressive R&B Album - Gemini Rights
Muni Long, GRAMMY-winner for Best R&B Performance - "Hrs & Hrs"
Kim Petras, GRAMMY-winner for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "Unholy" with Sam Smith
Ashley McBryde, GRAMMY-winner for Best Country Duo/Group Performance - "Never Wanted To Be That Girl"
Carly Pearce, GRAMMY-winner for Best Country Duo/Group Performance - "Never Wanted To Be That Girl"
Masa Takumi, GRAMMY-winner for Best Global Music Album - Sakura
Kabaka Pyramid, GRAMMY-winner for Best Reggae Album - The Kalling
Stephanie Economou, GRAMMY-winner for Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media - Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok
White Sun, GRAMMY-winner for Best New Age, Ambient, or Chant Album - Mystic Mirror
Photo: Timothy Norris/FilmMagic
Steve Lacy Delivers An Intimate Performance Of "Bad Habit" | 2023 GRAMMYs
The experimental R&B star offered a glittering take on his inescapable hit at the 2023 GRAMMYs, which received three nominations including the coveted Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.
After charming audiences around the world with his sophomore studio album Gemini Rights in July 2022, Steve Lacy eased into a comfortable sway with his 2023 GRAMMYs performance of the thrice-nominated single "Bad Habit."
Joined onstage by fellow Los Angeles experimentalist Thundercat, the singer/guitarist delivered a performance that got everyone from Lizzo to Machine Gun Kelly to sing along, Beyonce and Taylor Swift up and moving to the beat. Thundercat’s luxurious waterfall bass solo and Lacy’s Prince-esque sultriness felt just at home on the big stage, the Internet musician retaining his intimate vocal delivery even as the song radiated out through the arena.
"Bad Habit" has been a mainstay on TikTok since its release as a single in June 2022, with countless covers and live clips filtering through social media in the ensuing months. Drawing comparisons to everyone from Prince to ‘00s emo artists, the track spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and got an added boost when Lacy performed it on "Saturday Night Live" in November.
Earlier in the night, Lacy took the stage to celebrate a win for Best Progressive R&B Album for Gemini Rights, and earned nominations for Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Record of the Year.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.