Most of you will likely be hearing about NYC/New Orleans psych-soul and self-proclaimed “Future Nostalgia” act Ex Reyes for the first time right now, but Mikey Freedom Hart has been kicking up dust in some inner circles of music for at least the last half of the decade. Now that that dust is starting to clear, we can see that Ex Reyes has just wrapped a heavy touring schedule with his better-known friend How To Dress Well in support of an enigmatic debut EP, DO SOMETHING.
In the middle of his busy schedule, Ex Reyes found time to talk with me about the genesis of his long-anticipated EP, what he thinks about Los Angeles, and much more!
You just wrapped-up a short but fairly extensive tour with How To Dress Well, reaching all different parts of the country. What was it like?
It was a true dream. Normally at the end of a month-long tour, everyone is pretty tired of the road, but we were all kind of sad it was over. Like the end of summer camp. I’ve been on a zillion tours with other bands, but this was my first with my own, and now I’m addicted. If you’re reading this, take us on tour!
You played The Regent earlier last month. How did that compare to the rest of your performances? Do your fans and audiences in LA react in a way that other spots don’t?
Every city pretty much has its own vibe, and the music has certain open sections. Mercury could be in retrograde or, like, you ate lunch at Arby’s and it was lit, so I guess that’s what makes every night/every show its own unique thing!
The Regent is a beautiful venue. We had a lot of friends and lovers in the audience, and I bought a bunch of fake orchids from a party supply store in DTLA that I covered the stage with, so it was a real special night. Everyone got married. Everyone got laid. J/K. We all went to bed early.
You toured in support of your debut EP, DO SOMETHING. I feel like I’ve seen your name around the blogosphere for some time before 2016, though. How did you just get around to releasing it? Does the name have deeper meaning behind that motivation?
Some of the individual sounds on this album are as many as five years old. DO SOMETHING is just a set of five songs from a full album of 12, which were culled from, like, 100 works-in-progress. It reflects a community of musicians that inspire each other and that I’ve come in contact with over the past 5-6 years of touring with other bands.
It’s called DO SOMETHING because I had a demo beat on my laptop that I made while I was on Nyquil. It had a sample of my friend saying, “Do something,” and it was from a time when I had decided to take time off the road. A relationship just ended, and there was just a hurricane of changes around me, and I was like, “I’m almost done with this set of songs, I gotta…” DO SOMETHING! [Laughs]
Either way, we’re glad that the EP will be making the rounds and everyone can finally hear your psych-soul sound, which hits my sweet spot, personally. You definitely remind me of an earlier era of psychedelic music but with purposefully modern and more robust production.
This isn’t a question, but thank you so, so, so much. That’s the goal. I’m not trying to be throwback, but I’m also not trying to block out the massive influence and unparalleled creativity of early dancehall, psychedelic Temptations records, The Beach Boys — the list goes on.
Back to the tour for a second — has Tom Krell of HTDW had any influence on you?
I consider Tom a close friend, and he and I definitely get each other chuckling. I am influenced and inspired by all of my close friends, and part of the idea behind Ex Reyes is to open my world up to the people I love because I’ve been gifted with the opportunity to be a part of so many others’ musical worlds through touring, writing, and recording.
Nice. Now back to LA — is there just something about the Los Angeles music scene that draws you back?
There seems to be a kind of wormhole between NYC and LA, musically, so I have so many brilliant friends living and working in LA, and I couldn’t bear to not make music with them!
NYC, New Orleans, and LA, which are my main three music cities, all have fundamentally unique characters in their music scenes, but LA is dope ’cause everyone is down to write a song, record a song, move through creativity with a very strong purpose, and I fuck with that deeply. I like making something that I can listen to on loop when nobody’s around. It makes me obsessed with finishing it and making it as beautiful as I (we) can.
Do you have a favorite spot or hangout that you go to any time you’re here?
When I’m in LA I’m basically obsessed with going into studios and making music, but I always end up at the Taco Zone. I always end up spending a part of a day walking around downtown trying to find cool shit.
I know you’ve got a life to live, so I’ll let you go, but when do you think you’ll be back in LA? What and where is next on the horizon?
I actually spent a week in LA after tour, just recording and writing. I’ll be back real soon.
Next up, I’m releasing the EP and putting out a video for “Keeping U in Line” that I’m super excited about. It stars a really special enigmatic character who was a Lindy hop star back in the glory days of NYC swing dancing. That ties together my history playing music in New Orleans and swing dancing with my life now in NYC, the idea of time passing and staying dedicated to your work. I’m really excited.
Then I’ll be going on tour in Europe with How to Dress Well and then in NYC for December rehearsing for new Bleachers material! I wish I didn’t have to sleep.