100 Gecs – The weirdest duo in electronic music?
They’re the products of the internet age. Spokespeople for what many refer to as ‘Generation Z’, the age group that have been immersed in the online world since the day they were born.
For 100 Gecs, though, their absurdist style is just what comes naturally to them. Absorbing a wide range of influences, from dubstep to grimecore, they love blasting their audience with a surreal listening experience. Here’s a look into how they’re trying to make weird the new norm.
Early life and formation of career
Dylan Brady and Laura Les. Two very unweird names for two people who had a normal middle-class upbringing in suburban St Louis, Missouri.
The one thing that set them apart from other kids was their hugely varied taste in music. While they were both heavily involved in the city’s thriving electronic music scene, they embraced styles from the understated sound of mumble trap to in-your-face death metal.
Les released her first EP (under the name osno1), with the suitably bizarre title Hello kitty skates to the fuckin CEMETARY in 2016, while Brady had shared his solo effort All I Ever Wanted online the year before. Both showcased their varied styles which would soon collide together to take online music by storm.
The mish-mash of genres on display in the two releases, thrown in with the pair’s heavy exposure to internet culture, led to them teaming up to create their own unique brand of music in 2016.
In the early days, however, even their creative process was unusual. Living in two different cities, Brady in downtown LA and Les in Chicago, the pair sent each other audio tracks which they both played around with and added to. This formed the basis of their first album, 1000 Gecs; an EP of four songs released in July 2016, but the full record wasn’t released until three years later.
1000 Gecs – the debut album
When Pitchfork describes a record as like ‘taking an acid bath at Tom & Jerry’s house’ you know it’s worth a listen. 1000 Gecs is a 23-minute rollercoaster ride of pulsating pop-punk and hyper auto-tuned vocals: listeners are greeted with the line ‘Hey you lil’ piss baby’ early on, and the experience gets even more unorthodox from there.
I Need Help Immediately is one example. Veering between blasts of electronic noises and garbled vocals, the track is a fine example of the pair’s avant-garde style. This is followed up by the hyper Stupid Horse, a different type of weird, but a lot of fun all the same. The record crashes on, taking in the beautifully named xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx, before landing on the suitable catchy Ringtone.
Critics praised the album, giving it positive reviews for its unique style and boundary-pushing blend of genres. Several publications placed it on their ‘best albums of the year’ lists, and 100 Gecs were on their way to becoming an audio sensation.
The success of their first record led the release of a remix album in early 2020. Ringtone (Remix) was the most notable single. Comprising vocals from several vocalists, including Charlie XCX, the glitch hop tune is a chaotic mash of electronic beeps and 80s-style synths, something reminiscent of a ringtone (maybe the reason for the name) or a retro slots game. However, you might interpret it, it seems to work, with the song receiving mostly positive reviews and over a million YouTube hits within weeks of its release.
The rest of the album featured guest appearances from a typically varied selection of stars, most notably Fallout Boy’s Patrick Stump and US rap trio Injury Reserve. NME described it as ‘filtering sonics into a DIY blender’ and it’s easy to see why: it’s like every musician in your Spotify library has been forced to work together, an absurd mash of all of their previous album’s songs.
Listening to it is a unique experience: maybe Brady himself sums it up well when he says it’s ‘music shredded and sucked into the internet in a crazy way’.
Of course, any video featuring 100 Gecs is not going to conform to any type of normal standard. Their creative visual output is expansive, with perhaps the most obvious example being for Stupid Horse. Over the course of two minutes and 11 seconds, viewers can see them prancing around in animal masks, avatar-style versions of them pulling strange faces while watching TV, and even a deranged jockey leaping around in the background.
The bass-heavy Money Machine is another headspinner, using technicolour lighting effects as the two performers do lunges in front of cargo trucks. Ringtone meanwhile has them both wearing dark hoodies and showing paper cut-out of their collaborative partners on cardboard sticks.
While the videos may not be particularly disturbing as such, they certainly stick in your head for a while after, and fit suitably with the chaotic ethos of the duo.
A look into the future
Are 100 Gecs, and all their unfiltered weirdness, a sign of things to come? Does this type of music signal a new normality?
Well, if they are a product of the permanently logged-on generation, then it’s likely that their success could spawn a new era of genre mashups. The internet makes collaboration easier than ever before, as 100 Gecs proved themselves with their remix album, so it sets the scene for more of the same in the future.
One thing’s for sure amidst all the chaos: it certainly won’t be boring.