artist spotlight: EXES

Kristin, Uncategorized

Earlier this week, I got to sit down and skype in with stellar music duo, EXES. We got to talking about their music, how they met, their creative process, struggles, hurdles overcome and more.

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EXES is a group out of los angeles, cooking up unique tunes that are lovely and authentic. Combining the epic creative producing talent Mike Derenzo and singing, song writing one of a kind girl boss Allie Mcdonald, this group is on the rise and as far as I can tell, completely unstoppable. As you may recall, we recently did a *cough cough* raving.. single review for their newest song “twentythousand.” Currently, twentythousand sits at 400,000 plays *and counting* on spotify. We wanted to get a more in depth look at where it all started, and get to know this talent a little better.

About five years ago, the duo met in college as communication majors and began making music after meeting through a mutual friend. both had a desire to share emotions and stories through a creative medium that would cater to both their tastes. They started mixing and writing and producing, and well, this hybrid of sheer talent was born.

But why the name EXES? According to Allie, finding a name for the project is one of the hardest parts. After a while of making music, the two realized they wrote so much about “exes”. And not just in the romantic sense, but exes of all sorts. Things that once were that are no more-and so, the name EXES was born; an honest reflection of what they do. I could not help but swoon a little over the eloquence of it all and how poetic it really is.

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How about the creative process? I personally love hearing about the creative process artists use to make content. Mike thinks about the song as a specific space to be filled. He thinks about how the song would feel, what colors and textures the song would have, etc. Its a true process for creating intense art, and to EXES, that is what they want to do. Allie says that sometimes, melodies come to her and the lyrics come after. But… sometimes, the lyrics come first and they work together to find the musical language. First and foremost, the most important thing about making music is the legitimateness. Everything they write is based on something real; its happened, they have felt it, its been experienced. To EXES, there is no sense in making music that isn’t authentic and at v+v, that is something we deeply admire.

Today, EXES is living in LA maneuvering around the industry. Its not easy to make it, and many obstacles are often put in front of artists. But, nothing is getting EXES down. They take matters into their own hands, and are extremely excited about making music. Today, they say, one of the best things about the industry is the ability for people to pick what they like. The power of popularity resides with the people who listen to music more than those that play it. How cool is that?

And…for all those looking to get into this industry, EXES has offered some amazing advice. Practice. As mike says, “when you think you’ve practiced enough, practice more.” According to EXES, there is always going to be someone out there willing to practice more than you, so if you really want to make it, practice practice practice. Surround yourself with creative people and work hard. That is when you will optimize success.

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The second takeaway from my conversation with EXES is to be thoughtful with your actions. Think about what you want to do before you just do it. The industry often provides many tempting, but possibly dangerous or risky avenues that if not thought through properly, could lead an artist to many many issues. EXES advice? Think first. And lastly, be proud of what you make, and be proud of who you are. For Allie, she says as a women, dealing with people who are more interested in commenting on your physical appearance rather than your talent can be common. But allie says, “I grew thick skin. I did the youtube thing for a while when I was 16, and i dealt with some nasty comments.” It could be very discouraging, but she knows her worth and knows her talent. She proudly says, “I’M AWESOME!” which is the utter truth.

It was an absolute pleasure sitting down with these two, and I am so excited to see where they go from here. stay tuned to their pages below, and stay on the lookout for big things they do.

EXES instagram

EXES spotify

EXES soundcloud



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