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For 100 Gecs, This Is What Sincerity Sounds Like

Photo: Nina Westervelt/Shutterstock

No person would describe the music of 100 Gecs the same way. To some, Dylan Brady and Laura Les make deeply satisfying earworms, capable of scratching the itches that occupy the deepest memory-holed corners of the brain, a place occupied by YouTube parody songs and old McDonald’s commercials. To others, 100 Gecs are an “anarchic assault on the ears,” a musical quilt of genres historically derided in the popular canon: Nü metal, scuzz rock, ska, and ’90s pop punk are all fair game. The duo’s music is typically described as hyperpop, per the scene that their debut record (aptly titled 1,000 Gecs) ushered in, but the most accurate term might be internet-core, sounding more akin to the score on a flash game on Newgrounds than something atop the radio charts.

Four years after their debut, and following a prolonged delay, Brady and Les take the gec-itude up a notch in size, scope, and vision on their sophomore record, 10,000 Gecs. Its their first release with Atlantic Records, and the focus shifts from Mountain Dew to Natty Light, doubling down on the crunchy distortion and harmonics to create Eddie Van Halen–influenced songs like “Doritos & Fritos” and the sleazy psycho-dub track “The Most Wanted Person in the United States.” The songs are catchy and artfully constructed, delivering an overwhelming listening experience. It raises several questions about the duo’s intentions, the first and biggest being, Are they actually serious?

We tried to answer that question in a recent Switched on Pop interview with the duo. You can read the conversation below or listen to the episode wherever you get your podcasts.

Switched on Pop

Reanna Cruz: How would you describe your sound?

Laura Les: Average pop.

Dylan Brady: Middle-of-the-road pop.

Les: Totally normal. Two totally chill and normal people making totally chill and normal music.

Brady: We’re chill.

Les: It’s got a verse, it’s got a chorus … easy peasy.

Cruz: You call your music normal, but a lot of people have described it as “baffling” or “challenging to listen to.” Do you have any thoughts on that?

Les: I think that’s just a nice way of saying they don’t like it. My favorite songs are not challenging at all. Super-easy to listen to my favorite music.

Cruz: Dylan, you said in your New York Times profile, “People have been telling me ska is bad my whole life.”

Brady: Oh, yeah. People hate ska.

Les: I don’t understand ska hate. I can understand not liking a band or a singer, but just not liking the vibe wholesale is very odd to me.

Brady: It’s kind of like the Nickelback thing, where people might not even mean it, you know? “Get this pickle more likes than the Nickelback Facebook page. People love hating on shit. They did the same thing to dubstep.

Les: Right. It’s like, you don’t like any dubstep? You’re gonna wholesale say all dubstep is trash? I can understand if people are like, “On average, I don’t like dubstep,” but when people get really charged up about it, that’s very sad.

Brady: They’re tripping.

Les: They don’t like to have fun.

Cruz: On the new record, I’m hearing a lot of nü metal, a lot of butt-rock inspiration. Who were you guys listening to when you made 10,000 Gecs?

Les: Chocolate Starfish, Gorillaz …

Brady: Primus, Eddie Van Halen …

Les: Future. He has this song called “I Been Drinking,” which is basically his version of “Drunk in Love.” I was listening to a lot of that song specifically. “You Got Me,” by the Roots. Love that song. “Are You That Somebody,” by Aaliyah, “Tipsy,” by J-Kwon, “Summer Love,” by Justin Timberlake …

Cruz: The album starts off with “Dumbest Girl Alive,” which opens with what I assume to be the THX sound, right?

Brady: Official sound from the horse’s mouth!

Les: Officially cleared. You wanna talk about some fucking industry machinery? Talk about getting the THX sound cleared!

Brady: And sent to you. The uncompressed file. It’s the real original one. Not a remake, not an edited version.

Les: We wanted the one. By the book, baby.

Cruz: Why that sound specifically?

Brady: It’s huge. We were trying to figure out how to start that song. We had something, but then we tried this, and it just set the tone.

Les: We were like, Okay, it’s gonna be the very first sound that you hear on the album. That’s how you start it.

Brady: I’ve loved that sound for so long.

Les: It’s beautiful, and it’s terrifying.

Cruz: The track “Doritos & Fritos” is so different from a track like “757” or “Hollywood Baby.” When you made those, were you looking for more of a mainstream sound?

Brady: I think we’re just trying to write a different kind of tune.

Les: Yeah, we don’t really think of anything as a slider between “This is super-accessible” and “This is not.” We did say early on that we wanted something that you could play in your backyard while you’re grilling. So that inspired a couple songs.

Brady: Cookout vibes.

Les: We’re trying to make the most brew-crackable music possible.

Cruz: “Brew-crackable music.” That’s a great term. Your music somehow reminds me a lot of those anti-piracy ads that are like, “You wouldn’t steal a car.” There’s an over-the-top excess to it but also a deep seriousness. How do you respond to people who think your music is just ironic and “committing to a bit”?

Brady: I feel like we’ve been addressing that since the first album came out. How do we convince anyone at this point that we actually like the music that we’re making?

Les: I understand that sentiment. We understand that people do think that dubstep is funny. We do genuinely like it, but were not being sincere without understanding that people could take it as a joke.

It’s hard to describe, but we’re not gonna make music that we think is bad. There are things that are slightly tongue in cheek, but it’s not ironic.

Cruz: These days, artists face more pressure to put out bodies of work quickly. Did you feel that pressure when 10,000 Gecs was delayed?

Brady: I mean, I wanted to finish it either way, but you can’t really rush it.

Les: Yeah, exactly. The public perception doesn’t bother me so much. People are gonna want things, you know? But it was more like, Goddamn, I want this to be done. I want this to be out. It was hard to make this album. The minute when it was done, I was like, I wanna put it out now. But all that is part of a growing process. It’s our second album, a million things have changed in our lives, so we had to try a bunch of shit in the process to figure out what to do.

It’s way different, putting out an album as 100 Gecs now, where you have a million people that are gonna hear it, versus putting out an album in 2019, where maybe a couple thousand people will hear it.

Cruz: So what comes after 10,000 gecs?

Brady: 100,000 gecs.

Les: 100,000, baby! Coming later this year.

Brady: Coming early 2023.

Les: Uh-huh. Coming tomorrow.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

For 100 Gecs, This Is What Sincerity Sounds Like