Ex Reyes is a psychedelic-soul pop project led by Louisiana-born, Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Mikey Hart. His debut EP titled ‘Do Something’ was released at the beginning of November and was written in collaboration with Mitchell Yoshida of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, among others.
Mikey Hart has played alongside and collaborated with a host of artists including The Bleachers, The Cranberries, Santigold, Sia, Sinkane, A$AP Rocky and Albert Hammond Jr., while in the past month alone Ex Reyes have supported the likes of TEEN in Brooklyn, and How To Dress Well on his international tour. ‘Keeping U in Line’ is the third single off his debut EP, following the releases of ‘Bad Timing’ and the Beach Boys-inspired ‘Only You’.
GIGsoup recently spoke to Mikey Hart about the latest single, his love for collaborating and what his plans are for 2017.
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All three singles from your debut EP have been pretty impressive, what’s the story behind your latest track ‘Keeping U In Line’?
Thanks y’all! Just trying to dress for the job I want, I guess…
‘Keeping U in Line’ is a song that started out years ago — from when you had to pay for every text and like, use T9 word and shit. ‘Keeping U in Line’ was from a text I had gotten and I had those chorus words knocking around. The song around it is a bigger picture, about reluctance to love, especially as the love grows older, and the little strains that time and age can impose. The music for this song came from playing with my friends Mitchell Yoshida, Aaron Steele, and Dave Dawda and was kind of the first Ex Reyes song ever. A few years later I had a better idea of how to write and produce songs, and that’s when I was like man I want this to be like some kind of psychedelic Spinners jam, but not in a throwback way… like as if it was made by Dilla or something.
‘Bad Timing’ and ‘Only You’ both had music videos made for them, are there any plans to create one for ‘Keeping U In Line’?
Yeah my friend / brilliant person and filmmaker Asli Baykal came to me with the idea of doing a character portrait of a really incredible septuagenarian swing-dancer and raconteur Sonny Allen. The video should come out soon. We’re putting the finishing touches on it now. It’s really beautiful, it really truly makes me cry and laugh. This is the first time I collaborated on a video in this way — the other two I directed and edited — and it was magic to stand parallel to Asli’s vision and Sonny’s persona. I can’t wait for you to see it. We were aligned on our love of the film ‘All That Jazz’ and the documentary ‘Louie Bluie’, and I used to play for swing dancers almost every night of the week in my former life as a New Orleans jazzer, so the idea is super close to my heart personally.
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When did you decide to start working on your own material and how long did it take for you to settle on a sound you were happy with?
I have always been writing songs but yeah, like you say, it used to always be like “I wanna write one like this, or like this”. Writing and producing with / for other people, collaborating in that way, is one of my favourite things in music. Ex Reyes kind of started from jams and experiments with Mitchell Yoshida, just tracks and idea fragments, about 5-6 years ago. In that time I went on tour to like a million places, with so many different bands, and must have played literally like 1000 shows minimum. Over that stretch, I was always producing those ideas and kind of finding what the Ex Reyes sound could be. Some of the songs on the ‘Do Something EP’ have parts on them that are as much as 5 years old. Other songs were recorded and written within the last year, in one sitting even. Ex Reyes has come to be this area where no rules are imposed in the production. It’s really fun.
How you would describe your particular sound and who have been your major influences in helping to develop it?
I call it a bunch of things, kind of half-jokingly. Psych soul, future nostalgia pop, humid subtropical bass. To me it’s like something in between Dancehall, The Beach Boys, The Temptations being picked up from a shortwave radio just about the earth. The major influences are the people who play and contribute to the songs, an ever growing community of musicians that I come into contact with through living and trying to make music constantly, Brian Wilson, J Dilla, Prince, Koo Nimo… whatever I had for lunch, Oreo cookies. All that. It’s all in there I think.
You’ve played and collaborated with some great artists, is there anyone you’d like to work with in the future?
Low key I find a lot of magic in working with almost anyone. I love getting in a room with the express purpose of making a song and letting the chips fall. I’d love to work with David Byrne, Chance, Kanye, Antony, Young Thug, Kendrick, Alabama Shakes, Ariana Grande, Vybz Kartel…
Real talk my ultimate fantasy is working with Pimp C and Prince (RIP), or Brian Wilson in the 60s.
I wanna work with anyone who wants to make something dope and let’s try and do that together.
Looking to 2017, are there any plans to release a full-length album sometime next year?
I hope so! I have so much music on deck y’all. But you’re supposed to release it piece by piece, I’m told. I’m doing all these releases DIY so I’ll definitely be releasing another EP early 2017. ‘Do Something EP’ is like one half of a full length, and the next EP will be the other half.
But yeah, I need to get a label in the U.S.A. if I want to afford all that. Haha… or not haha.