Q&A

Don’t Call Victor Internet’s Music Bedroom Pop

Published October 14, 2020

Photos by Zamar Velez.

While he might be spitting angry bars or exploring the scintillating depths of his voice in his music, the 19-year-old Victor Internet remains incredibly laidback as he discusses this shitshow of a year. Careful not to get pigeonholed into one niche genre or trend, he delivers emotional music about longing and loss that sounds like a welcome mix of Clairo, Frank Ocean, and Kevin Abstract. Raised by his mother on the South Side of Chicago and now living more comfortably in L.A. (happy to be paying his mother’s rent), he tells Interview about his new song ‘Hollow,’ exploring his queerness through song, and his rescue pup Juno. 

———

KARL ORTEGON: So, what have you been up to since March?

VICTOR INTERNET: Well, making music, and also building computers.

ORTEGON: Building computers?

INTERNET: Yep, like, PCs. You know, computers. 

ORTEGON: That’s cool. It goes with your name. How did the name ‘Victor Internet’ come to be?

INTERNET: Adding ‘Internet’ was kind of a joke after my old name, Victor!, failed. People always had trouble finding me anywhere online. So I thought Internet next to it would be fun and quirky and just make me more discoverable than the old name. I’ve always loved computers and the internet.

ORTEGON: How would you describe your relationship with the internet?

INTERNET: The internet is a scary place, but it’s also a place where I’m able to inspire people, guide people, and be a source of love and good music. I can relate to people of all backgrounds on the internet; I don’t know how I’d make those connections without being online all the time.

ORTEGON: So would you say you’re extremely online? 

INTERNET: Yep. It’s been fun to interact with people and see what everyone is up to during quarantine. I realize that everyone else is going through it, so I’m online all the time to hang out or do a Twitch stream or say hi.

ORTEGON: Musically, who are your inspirations?

INTERNET: I’ve learned a lot from James Blake, Frank Ocean, Sade, and Prince. I like to think that my sound is a mix of all of theirs. 

ORTEGON: You’ve rejected being labeled as ‘bedroom pop.’ 

INTERNET: My motivation to make music was always to get out of the neighborhood I grew up in [on Chicago’s South Side]. What drove me to make music was initially the financial benefits that would come if I were to be successful. Then I could move my mom and I out of the area we were in. And now we’re moved out and I’m paying her rent! Making music on my own without a studio was not an aesthetic or a choice, it was all I had. It wasn’t a trend I was hopping on, it was my real-life situation. I didn’t have good equipment or resources. So I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the term ‘bedroom pop.’ I want to be seen as a pop or R&B artist.  

ORTEGON: On ‘Tinder Song,’ your 2017 hit, you navigate your queerness. What was it like putting that out as a teenager new to making music?

INTERNET: It was a weird time because I lived in this neighborhood where there were a lot of people that didn’t support the LGBTQ+ community. So it was incredibly hard to release a song like that into the world. And I kind of didn’t want my friends knowing about it. But soon after I found that my friends stuck with me and supported me; I found that the song helped a lot of other people feel comfortable with their sexual identity. So I thought it was really cool. It’s one of my older songs, though, and I’m trying to make music very different to that now.

ORTEGON: Speaking of making different music, you’ve just dropped your new song, “Hollow.” Tell me about the song.

INTERNET: So my friend Matthew Castellanos gave me the idea. He directed the video for my song ‘VEINS.’ I called him up, and I was like, “I’m kind of in a writer’s block, do you have any ideas?” And he gave me this word ‘hollow’ and he explained what it meant to him. When people turn hollow on you, it’s like when someone is falling out of love with you. And you start to notice that little things aren’t really there anymore, like affection and love in the relationship. And now you’re feeling hollow, but in a different way. There’s that feeling of isolation and knowing that the other person isn’t interested anymore.

ORTEGON: What’s it like releasing a song during pandemic?

INTERNET: I do not know what to expect. I’m dying to be able to perform the song, though. For now, it would be really cute if people made TikToks to the song. 

ORTEGON: I see that; you can totally tell when a song has TikTok trend potential.

INTERNET: What’s your favorite TikTok song?

ORTEGON: Oh my god, I am not used to getting interviewed. For a time it was Supalonely by BENEE and Gus Dapperton. That’s all I can think of right now, my brain is empty otherwise. 

ORTEGON: With ‘Hollow’ and your future work, what kind of music are you hoping to make?

INTERNET: I’m trying to get more experimental. I want my music to always be fresh; ideally, I have a concept, and someone tells me ‘no, that won’t work,’ and then I make it work. I want to take risks and get personal, autobiographical. I love when I listen to an artist and I hear about their background and where they grew up. When someone else has a tough life and they sing about it, it feels like having great company. I relate to it. It feels like a hug. 

ORTEGON: I think those were all of my questions. Is there anything else you want to add for the piece?

INTERNET: Can I talk about my dog?

ORTEGON: Of course.

INTERNET: Well, her name is Juno, named after the JUNO-60 synthesizer. She’s a rescue, I got her from this shelter called The Dog Cafe in Los Angeles. I’ve never had my own dog; growing up, we had a dog, but it was the family’s dog. Juno is my dog, and she is teaching me all about how dogs work, how they operate. I feel like her and I have a very deep spiritual connection.