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100 gecs on Skrillex, throwing out the rule book and loving that boomers hate their music

5 August 2020 | 11:47 am | Emma Jones

With the release of their new album, we spoke to 100 gecs about Skrillex and what did or didn't happen when they heard Patrick Stump singing their song.

Over the past few months, a few musical names have been able to breakthrough to the mainstream consciousness thanks to their polarising, exceptional or otherwise intriguing releases, and have since defined and soundtracked the bizarre times we all find ourselves living in. Charli XCX delivered a brilliant new record made entirely in quarantine, Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa released career-defining albums, The 1975 and Haim finally shared their very-delayed albums, and Taylor Swift took the whole world by surprise with her latest effort. Another name that has been somewhat of a mainstay in many spaces of the internet is that of 100 gecs. Many have described the duo as experimental, weird, abrasive, disconcerting or other adjectives that one might offer up in the case of not being able to "get it." But, herein lies the beauty that is this duo. They're entirely undefinable, with their music continually taking listeners and critics by surprise and it's this that makes them one thing for certain: exciting.

While it might feel like they've blown up seemingly overnight, the story of 100 gecs is more of a slow burn. Their debut release was way back in 2017 with a self-titled EP, and we didn't hear from them under this name until May 2019 with the album, 1000 Gecs. That wasn't to say they were exactly taking it easy, with both Laura Les and Dylan Brady making names for themselves in their own rights thanks to prolific creative explorations including producing and collaborating. It was this album that began to spread across the internet, striking a chord with everyone from PC music diehards, high schoolers on TikTok, esteemed music critics and fans of anyone who bucks tradition and convention in favour of doing whatever the fuck sounds good to them.

To say 100 gecs is "ironic" or "crazy" is to do a disservice to what they actually are. Fearless in their approach to their music, Brady and Les do not operate within genre constraints. Instead, they opt for what sounds good to them as they're creating together. This is why when listening to a 100 gecs song, you might get a ska-influenced, drum n bass track like 'stupid horse', a black metal/pop punk/experimental hybrid on '800 db cloud' or a Brady/Les version of a pop song that doubles as a giant "fuck you!" to a shitty coworker Les once had with 'money machine'. Striking a chord with highbrow music fans and oddballs alike, they are the poster group for making what sounds and feels good to you, and by staying true to this ethos, they've created an entire ecosystem around them in which genuine authenticity comes first. Being friends first and collaborators and bandmates second, they are each other's biggest fans and, having grown up on the internet just like every other 20-something-year-old, are accustomed to being drawn to many different styles and sounds. Couple this with the fact that they work entirely online, collaborating from different cities and sending files back and forth until they're confident whatever it is they're making is finished, and it really is no surprise at all that a duo like this exists and is making the music its making.

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Fast forward a few months and after the unprecedented success and ever-expanding fanbase 100 gecs acquired from their exploded, the pair decided to share the stems of each song to allow fans to deliver their own remixes. What would follow from this is another album, titled 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues. The stuff of internet legend and mystery, the existence of this record was finally confirmed after months of speculation, and with its release, the cult of 100 gecs faithful grew exponentially again. Again an example of a complete rejection of traditional outputs when it comes to music, 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues features remixes from AG CookFall Out BoyCharli XCXRico NastyKero Kero BonitoTommy CashDanny L Harle, and so many more. There's multiple remixes of the same song, and each and every track provides another microcosm within the 100 gecs cinematic universe — an offshoot from the already vibrant, unpredictable, and free-roaming world Brady and Les have created.

Most of this year was meant to be spent on the road for Dylan and Laura, with the pair even set for a whirlwind string of dates in Australia on the cards. But, even in the face of the you-know-what pandemic, 100 gecs have maintained a genuine relevance, connecting with their fans and peers online while quickly becoming one of the most exciting and promising acts in the world. Following the release of 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues, we spoke to both Laura and Dylan over the phone to talk all about the impact of Skrillex, whether they'll ever make an ambient record and what did or didn't happen when they heard Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump singing their song.

Congratulations on the remix album! What is it like to make exactly the kind of music that boomers complain about?

Laura: [Laughs] It feels incredible! They can go eat me!

Dylan: That is a great question

Laura: [Laughs] That is a great question! It feels incredible!

It was certainly a very hyped up record with your fans in the lead-up. Were you ever nervous to release something that you knew your fans wanted so badly?

Laura: Well, we really hope that people liked it, but that's always how we feel so I guess it wasn't that stressful.

You have a really pure relationship with your fans. What does it mean to be for you to be able to connect with your fans in such a direct way throughout the last year especially?

Laura: It's cool. We're trying to be very wary of using that as a marketing tool or developing social relationships which is always hard. But maybe we're too online a little too much.

I feel like we're all online too much though. So it's just part of the part of being this age.

Laura: Yeah. Hopefully, it gets a little bit better when we can actually fucking go out and go do something.

It feels like in the last few months, in particular, the word of 100 Gecs has really caught on around the world. Why do you think that people have had such visceral and emotional reactions to this kind of music?

Dylan: It's not as polarising to me as it seems to be to the other people.

Laura: Yeah. I think we just tried to throw the rule book out as much as we could and just make something that we thought was really cool, and the fact that it resonated with people is amazing. Maybe it's just that we have tastes that are underrepresented in the music that people make sometimes.

As the Gecs cinematic universe continues to expand, what do you look for in someone to do a remix or to be a collaborator now? And has that changed over time?

Dylan: Someone who makes great music.

Laura: And that will not change.

You have a big, massive maximalist energy to your music and it really relates across all of the projects so far. Does releasing one of the most chaotic records ever in maybe the most chaotic year ever, ever make you want to just fuck around and make an ambient record next?

Laura: [Laughs] I'm not throwing on much ambient on my playlist. If we ended up both vibing with heavy ambient shit then I'm sure that we would. We just want to make good shit. Our goal is to make good music. So if that ended up being the rabbit hole that we wanted to go down, then we would do that.

Not ruling it out then?

No, I'm ruling it out. It's definitely possible. Fuck it, we're 35 years old, we're over the hub, who knows, ambient record incoming.

An ambient jazz soundtrack for some sort of cinematic masterpiece. I can see it happening.

Laura: Sounds fucking hard.

Let's throw it right back for one second. What's the song that made you realise that you wanted to make music for both of you?

Laura: Wow. Maybe Scary Monsters by Skrillex. I would say maybe something by Black Sabbath too. I was into the two things, I was into them at the same time. So possible a little bit of both. Just hearing dope music and being like, "Damn, that'd be cool if I could do that!"

Dylan: True.

What's a song that you wish you had made?

Dylan: Scary Monsters.

Laura: Scary Monsters, yep. So many, so many good ones.

That song is still so wild to listen to. I remember I was just 18 when it first came out and was going to nightclubs here in Australia and requesting it in the clubs. And one DJ actually did play it and the whole dance cleared except me. It was amazing.

Laura: [Laughs] I love that!

Clubbing experience peaked and then it's all been downhill from there.

Laura: True, fuck. I don't know. I think that that has influenced definitely, it was a great thing. So yeah. I don't know, so many great fucking songs I wish I had wrote. Bad Idea by p4rkr on Spotify, that shit fucking goes incredibly hard. I wish I had written that one. Very recent song.

Can you talk me through the moment that you got Patrick Stump's vocals back? That must've been an utterly absurd thing to experience?

Laura: Oh, yeah!

Dylan: I was listening to the test pressing of the remix album. Wait, was I? How could I be doing that?

Laura: You couldn't have been. When you heard it for the first time?

Dylan: Weird. I don't know, now my memory is lying to me. I literally don't know now.

Laura: I was in a room full of New Mexico ravers and I was like, "Wait, everybody shut up!" And I listened to it and I was like, "Oh, my God! The madman! He actually did it!"

If you had to cover a song now, what would it be? And is it Skrillex?

Laura: No, because a great cover of Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites has already been done by Fraxiom Music. F-R-A-X-I-O-M. Incredible cover/remix that they put on. We put it on our hyper pop playlist right now. I would definitely do 99 Red Balloons.

Dylan: Salt Peanuts.

Laura: Salt Peanuts also would be great. Oh, also... Wait, what's the other one that I've been thinking? Oh, 'Reflection' from Mulan! Amazing song. That'd be a great song to do a remix of.

You could do a mash-up of all three in one. Imagine 99 Red Balloons into Reflection. I feel like that's a really big moment, Laura, for sure!

Laura: I used to open all of my live DJ sets with remix of that!

Before I go, I went through a really shit breakup last year and 1000 Gecs was the record that got me through, so I wanted to thank you.

Laura: Oh, my God!

Not really like your typical breakup moment, but MY breakup album. I just absolutely rinsed that record for the last year or so. I listened to it every day on my walk home.

Laura: It's so funny because you're not the first person who said that and that's so cool. It's the coolest thing ever that people turn it on and can feel better during a hard time. So that means a lot to us. Thank you.

1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues is out now.

Interview by Emma Jones

Image: Supplied