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No Bells Want You to Know ‘Internet Music’ Can Be Regional Too

Covering "rap and internet music" brought bloggers Mano Sundaresan and Millan Verma to New York.

2:30 PM EDT on September 7, 2023

The No Bells team at Mi Sabor Cafe. Left to right: Srikar Poruri, Cuatemoc Xocoyotzin, Mano Sundaresan, Millan Verma, Gustavo Marinho.(Mauricio Eckstein)

The editors of music blog No Bells go back and forth on the term "internet music." Writer and editor Mano Sundaresan launched No Bells in 2021, covering what he and Millan Verma, who now co-edits the site, still describe as "rap and internet music." 

"It became a very easy term to use during COVID, because that really was where everything was happening. I don't want to go as far as to say 'internet music' is not real—there's almost always a better way to describe the thing than to call it internet music." But, he said, "We like the term because it's not only how we describe the music, but how we describe the scene surrounding the music, and the audience for it."

"Weird, post-COVID music culture, for instance the rise of Hyperpop Daily and RXNephew and RXPapi," Sundaresan elaborated. "Weird things that had an audience, but most mainstream platforms didn't know about, or were willing to cover," Verma added.

I wanted to know why a focus on covering music on the internet led both Sundaresan and Verma to move to New York—No Bells has now hosted a few readings and even a hip hop show around, Myrtle-Broadway which they (jokingly—don't freak out) called "Grimes Square." (They also said they have another show coming up later this year that you should look out for.)

"We are in the time where people are going back to shows and collabing with each other in real life again, not on Discord servers," Sundaresan said. "It's pretty apparent to me that a lot of this stuff is happening in New York. Even if it's not happening directly in New York, people are coming to New York to make this music." He gave the example of quinn, a hyperpop artist who lives in western Georgia, but came to New York to do shows.

"One of the most interesting things for me," Verma said, "is seeing how this music that was really conceived on Discord, or elsewhere on the internet, plays out in real life."

"There's a regionality to the internet itself that's a bit under-appreciated," Sundaresan said." I'm thinking about the micro-genres we cover that form out of Soundcloud," he continued, then hesitated. "Soundcloud shouldn't be taking credit for this stuff, but the fact of the matter is that there are corners of Soundcloud where the artists are all collaborating with each other in those corners. If you listen to that shit a lot, it comes to you more and more. Now you're part of that bubble, if you interact with the artists, you're part of that scene."

"That's where a lot of the newer internet rap that is going up right now is coming from. Like xaviersobased," Sundaresan added. "He's a New York artist in my head, but he also has this internet scene that includes artists from the UK, from Richmond, Milwaukee, and Jersey. And they all convene on this sound in this corner of the internet."

Going forward, No Bells editors say they're trying to figure out how to navigate the mind-bending interdimensional crossing of the internet and real life that is New York. "The other thing is, the more you cover the same scene, the greater chance you actually become a part of it," Sundaresan sighed. "And that's not really the point. Doing work that is more critical would require us to not constantly be tapping in with the same people all the time. We are facing that tension a little bit right now."

In describing how they're trying to figure out their lane, they engaged in a bit of flattery. "We're trying to be like Hell Gate one day," he said. "I feel like we're like zoomer Hell Gate." Whoa, whoa, whoa. The kids may coming up from behind, but they did leave us with a few recommendations for "internet music" shows to check out soon:

Saturday, September 9: The Hellp, Evanora.Unlimited, and Sausha at Market Hotel, 1140 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn ($30)

Verma: "This is probably part of Fashion Week. This is like Dimes Square-adjacent stuff. I think of this stuff as new-age art rock. It's all electronic, but the way they're getting these synths to sound, it sounds like a heavy metal guitar. Their melodies are heavily influenced by, '80s, '90s rockers. I saw The Hellp at the Bowery Ballroom in May, and it was an incredible show. It had the feel of a hardcore punk show. When I've been to mosh pits at the rage-mentality rap shows, those mosh pits are genuinely terrifying, like I'm going to get curb-stomped and left in the dust. But this one, it was a lot of college students, and it was a safe mosh pit. They were going hard but they were helping each other up. Very communal, very good vibes.

Friday, September 29: Swami Sound and Dazegxd at Elsewhere, 599 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn ($28.77)

Sundaresan: "They are two thirds of the trio EldiaNYC, both dance DJs/producers, and Swami Sound's also a vocalist. I've seen both of them plenty of times, I've seen Daze an obscene number of times. They're both two of my favorite DJs in the city right now. They're kind of bringing a very contemporary, studied but fresh take to Jungle, and to other dance music. Swami is interesting because whenever I see him, and I mean this in a positive way, I feel like I'm watching a robot go to work. He's so precise with his blends and his song selection, I get like the meme of the dude with the glasses at the club watching the DJ.

Saturday, October 7: Danger Inc., Beastboybpd, DJ Wallh4x & Special Guests at Trans-Pecos, 915 Wyckoff Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens. ($19.64)

Verma: "Danger Inc. and special guests are coming in early October, the seventh. They'll be in Queens at this venue called Trans-Pecos, which I've never been to. They were the hottest thing in Atlanta from 2016-2018. They do a synth-pop-rap thing, with a lot of grunge influences. It's really interesting. They're a duo. Their trajectory didn't really keep going up through the years. But every October, they pop out and do a show or two, maybe release some singles. I'd be interested to see what they're sounding like now. You never know what you're gonna see when you see them, but probably some good music.

Sporadically: Shows posted by @Helltekk.inc

Sundaresan: "I don't see anything on their calendar, but they almost always throw things every couple weeks, and they announce it the day of, or the night before. They do really good underground hardstyle and techno shows."

Quotes from this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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