100 Gecs: “People think we’ve staked our entire career on the fact that we can be ironic”
Over the past four months of lockdown, the internet has become a second home for many of us. It’s served as the virtual location for office meetings, boozy online lock-ins and endless pub quizzes, providing both solace and a sense of familiarity during the ongoing adjustment to the scary “New Normal” of the Covid-19 age.
For 100 Gecs, though, this is their natural habitat. The electronic duo, made up of Dylan Brady and Laura Les, are used to remote cross-country working, with Brady being based in LA and Les in Chicago (she’s currently in the process of moving). Despite being physically apart, they often create music via the World Wide Web (much of their 2019 debut album ‘1000 Gecs’ was made while living in different cities) while they even performed their first-ever show on Minecraft.
Back in April, as many other artists were scrabbling to adapt to the new digital landscape, the duo utilised their digital nous to host their own online festival, Square Garden, within the game. Acts like Charli XCX, PC Music‘s A.G. Cook and Kero Kero Bonito were among the virtual performers alongside Gecs themselves, and the event was praised for its originality. But fans of 100 Gecs will already know that this sort of innovation from the duo is the norm.
“People think that Minecraft’s super-wild and new, but honestly it lends itself perfectly to what we do,” Les tells us over Zoom. The duo are dialling in from their respective homes, with each of them making use of Zoom’s background settings throughout our interview as they continuously switch their backdrops (Brady starts with Baby Yoda before changing to a cave, while Les changes her backdrop throughout our interview before eventually settling on this meme of Sonic the Hedgehog).
We’re calling ahead of the release of 100 Gecs’ latest album ‘1000 Gecs & The Tree of Clues’, which dropped today (July 10). Instead of putting out a collection of brand new tunes, the pair decided instead to rework songs from ‘1000 Gecs’ — their divisive 23-minute, genre-hopping debut LP that wildly spanned synthpop, chiptune and hardcore, basically making it the musical equivalent of Marmite. A few months after its release last year, Brady and Les made the stems of those songs available online and encouraged people to remix the songs themselves. ‘1000 Gecs & The Tree of Clues’ features a handful of the subsequent fan reworkings, alongside high-profile guest features by the likes of Charli XCX, Craig Owens, Cook and, unexpectedly, Fall Out Boy.
As well as getting their take on the outcome of their new remix record, NME caught up with 100 Gecs to talk about touring with Brockhampton, ordering caviar and champagne upon being signed and addressing the biggest misconceptions about their band.
NME: Why did you decide to put out a remix album as the next 100 Gecs project?
Laura: “We’re working on an album of new music [at the moment], but the response to the first album was just so good that we thought we could do something else with the material and, you know, let other people put their spin on it. We don’t see it as, like, a brand-new music album. It’s just more of a companion to the original.”
There’s loads of guests on the album, including some really unexpected names. How did you go about approaching your contributors?
Dylan: “Some people we had relationships with previously: A. G. Cook was a friend, so we just reached out to him directly. Some people reached into our world, and we asked them if they could be involved in it. Like Rico [Nasty] reached out saying that she really liked ‘Ringtone’ and we were like: “Oh, well we’re doing this remix album: why don’t you get on the remix?’ There are also remixes from fans and people that we didn’t know before we put out the stems — we loved their remixes, so we used those, too.”
One of the ‘Hand Crushed By A Mallet’ remixes features Fall Out Boy. How did you reach out to them?
Laura: “We had a meeting with Pete [Wentz, Fall Out Boy bassist] and he was asking us whether we would possibly want to do something in the future. You know, just being very vague, and we were like: ‘Yeah, yeah, totally — we’re both fans.’ And then, just days later, we got a text message with a .Zip folder of Patrick Stump vocals and we were like: ‘Beautiful.’”
You toured with Brockhampton last year. What was that experience like?
Dylan: “Really crazy. It was our first time playing [live] ever and they’re already fucking massive, so our first shows were to 6000 people at a fucking hockey stadium. It was fucking cool as hell.”
What was that first-ever live show like? How nervous were you?
Dylan: “The week leading up to it I was incredibly scared and nervous — but 30 seconds into it, I was fine.”
Laura: “I remember before we went on stage for the Friday Therapy show [supporting Brockhampton] we were both sitting on this big speaker or something. And I just looked over at Dylan and I was like: ‘I’m going to pee. Like, I’m going to pee my pants.’ The nerves mean you really think that. Later, when we were halfway through the first song, I was like: ‘Cool. I don’t feel that anymore. Let’s run it!’”
What’s it like when people sing your words back to you?
Dylan: “At our headline shows, it’s like everyone’s screaming every song the entire way through and it’s crazy. We played two or three of the Brockhampton tour dates, and then we had solo dates in the middle of it. The first solo show that we played brought some very shocking energy: like, everyone was going crazy-hard [and] knowing every song. It was crazy to see.”
Laura: “Yeah, it was sort of indescribable really. I feel in real life or whatever, you just throw energy into things and a lot of the time you don’t get anything back. But when you’re doing a show like that and you’re throwing out energy and you’re getting it back a hundred times more, it’s super-shocking. It’s like, imagine you’re in a room with a thousand people, you tell one joke and everyone starts pissing [laughing] being like: ‘Wow, you are the funniest person who’s ever lived. This is hilarious. I love you.’”
You’ve just signed to Atlantic Records! How good a feeling is that?
Laura: “It feels good, not having to worry about money. It’s a big, big problem and [an] anxiety that sort of isn’t as prevalent anymore.”
Dylan: “Yeah, [there’s] new anxieties now.”
Laura: “Out with the old and with the new!”
What are some of those new anxieties?
Dylan: “The list is long, you know.”
Laura: “ [Singing] ‘The long and winding road, duh duh, duh duh…’ You ever listened to The Beatles?”
Never heard of them — tell me more?
Laura: “Just four lads. Actually five, depending on who you talk to.”
Laura: “If there weren’t five lads in The Beatles, then we’re just two singers.”
Laura: “That’s not true. I don’t know if that’s even a fair thing to say.”
Dylan: “George Martin: underrated.”
Laura: “Super underrated. You get the CDs, you get the ‘White Album’ CD: pop that shit on while your dad’s sleeping, listen to it on his headphones. You’re like: ‘Rocky racoooon.’”
Were you not tempted to sign to an indie label? Why was Atlantic such a good fit?
Dylan: “We’re trying to be really big — trying to be as big as Ed Sheeran.”
Laura: “Adele didn’t get that big just by signing to a label [laughs]. We met the team at Atlantic and it seemed like a good fit: it seemed like they would be helpful and let us do what we wanted to do when we signed. We were like: ‘There’s so many things that they could help us accomplish.’ We did talk to some indie labels and we were meeting people that we loved and who we thought were super-sick people. But you had to choose someone — you can’t be signed to a thousand different places.”
What did you do to celebrate signing your record deal?
Laura: “I tried caviar for the first time. We made a whole trip out to actually sign the deal and they were like: ‘Whatever you guys want for lunch, we’re down.’ I was like: ‘I want caviar, ‘cos I’ve never had it before and this seems like the perfect time.’ So I had caviar and champagne.”
What is the biggest misconception people have about 100 Gecs?
Laura: “That we are deeply ironic people.”
Dylan: “Oh yeah, that’s true. I wouldn’t say we make ironic music.”
Laura: “People think that we’ve staked our entire career on the fact that we can be ironic really well. I’m like: ‘Nobody can do that!’ Who’s a parody artist who makes music similar to ours? You’d be hard-pressed [to find one]. We’re not joking all the time… sometimes. A little bit. We’re having fun — we’re not fucking being ironic.”
Dylan: “We’re seriously having fun.”
Laura: “Really serious fun. Intense fun.”
100 Gecs’ ‘1000 Gecs & The Tree of Clues’ is out now.