In Conversation With: EXES
EXES have just released their latest creation ‘Before You Go’, which is a beautiful collection of eight tracks that sees the band get personal about a difficult time. They took a moment to talk to us in more detail about the release.
How did your experiences from 'The Art Of Saying Goodbye' shape 'Before You Go'?
Allie: That was the first time we released music as EXES. “Before You Go”, in theory, shouldn’t be as terrifying to release, but we have a following this time around. We have a fan base that we hope will like this new chapter. It was important for us not to worry too much about how the music will be perceived. We love the new songs. And I think we’re growing and maturing with every release.
Any behind-the-scenes stories of the recording process?
Mike: We traveled to New Orleans to work with our friend Christoph Andersson. It was the first time we had ever traveled somewhere with the sole intention of writing new material. We had a ton of fun and wrote the song “Talk”.
You mentioned that the songs remind you of a time 'where everything could've ended, but thankfully - it didn't', what pushed you out of that dark place? What were the dominant thoughts during that time?
Allie: We were feeling a lot of pressure as to the direction of EXES after “The Art of Saying Goodbye”. Luckily, we snapped out of it pretty quickly. We realized that creating music for a living is never going to be easy. But, we started this project because we believed in it, and our ability to work together. We’re stronger than ever now, and we’re writing some of our best music to date. The future is looking fantastic. You’re stuck with us for a bit.
What advice would you give to someone who is coming to a difficult time in their musical career, similar to what you experienced?
Allie: Don’t forget why you’re creating music. We didn’t know if anyone would listen, but we wrote because we needed to. We’re just a couple of anxious kids writing and recording music in a garage in Venice Beach. This career is such a rollercoaster, but without the lows, you wouldn’t have anything to compare the highs to.
Drawing inspiration from the title, what's something you'd like to achieve before you go?
Allie: Great question. For me, it’s all about our songs reaching strangers that need them. That, like us, feel too much. It’s amazing that music can bring us together. That by relating to a song, we all start to feel a little less lonely. I’d love for our songs to reach as many people as possible.
The 8-track collection is very personal, but are there any tracks that have a particular story behind them? What's the story?
Allie: For me, it’s hard not to be personal in my songwriting. “Peckham” comes to mind. Nothing more personal than naming a song after a place you fell in love. It was a great weekend spent in London. And when I meet someone new, I always go back and compare it to how I felt that weekend. For better or for worse. “Over” was also a deeply personal one for me. I was nervous to release it! I dated someone who broke my heart, but wanted to keep the door open. I think by singing “I don’t want to keep the door open” 9 times I was able to get my point across on that one. Some of the lyrics in that tune reference our song “Sherman Oaks” as well, which was fun for me.
What are the most important experiences and lessons you learnt from this difficult musical period? Will it change the way you look at and write music in the future, and if so, how?
Mike: I think we both learned how to not be too precious with our music. If we like something and think its good/represents us just PUT IT OUT! Instead of getting in our heads too much we try and just go with the creative flow now.
What is your favourite lyric from 'Before You Go' and why?
Allie: This is a hard one. There’s a lyric in “Index” (our intro song) that’s very simple, but very accurate in describing my jumbled, chaotic, mess of a head when it comes to relationships. “I will try to forget / I will never forget”. I love that these two sentiments exist next to each other. It’s so straightforward, yet paradoxical at the same time. When I write songs, often I’m processing my emotions and thoughts simultaneously. I think that because I’m sometimes all over the place lyrically, it makes me human and honest. Above all, we just want to make human and honest songs. I also love the first verse of “Everything” purely because it started out as a poem of mine. I’m happy I was able to move it around a bit to fit. “The first night that we met / we climbed up on your roof / you saw the sky light up the way I did right next to you”. It’s a real memory- a fleeting moment that I’ll never forget. And I’m happy that it’s now found its way into a song that I’m very proud of.
In 'Arrival', there's the lyric 'I don't know what made me this way'. What inspired these lyrics? Can you think of a particular time when you felt this way?
Mike: ‘Arrival’ is a bit different from most of the other songs because the narrative perspective switches from Allie to mine. Ironically I don’t have the same ease Allie does when it comes to expressing emotions. I was at a critical point in a new relationship and through writing this song, allie helped me realize sometimes you just have to take a jump and not care what happens [it worked out very well lol]
What are your plans for the near future? What are you most looking forward to?
Allie: Releasing more music. We’ve been writing like crazy, and I think we’re finally getting into a groove. I would LOVE to tour soon as well. So many places I want to sing and so many people I want to meet.
Feature by Athena Kam