Concerts

Hyperpop Champions 100 Gecs Are Reshaping Music in Their Own Maximalist Image

100 Gecs
100 Gecs Photo by Mikey Joyce
When you first listen to a 100 Gecs record, you might come away with a sense that this has to be a joke.

"Money Machine" sounds like a blown-out bass track sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks, while "Stupid Horse" brings back memories of your regrettable high-school ska phase. "xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx" — a title that reads more like an early 2000s AIM username — leans into happy hardcore, and "Hand Crushed by a Mallet" feels like a chaotic remix of a pop-punk song.

Yet somehow, Dylan Brady and Laura Les make it all work.

As millennials' cultural clout begins to wane, Gen Z has stepped up to reshape music in its own image: a genreless amalgamation of influences that seems to point to the future while at the same time imagining living in a world where dial-up modem sounds were still a thing — and 100 Gecs are leading the way.


When New Times asks the duo if being 38 years old disqualifies a person from being a fan, they don't hesitate to answer.

"Certainly not," Les says.

"It's for everyone," Brady adds.

It's a fair question to ask. 100 Gecs music tends to push the listener into one of two camps: They either love it or hate it. And age tends to play a significant factor, with older millennials dismissing it as "zoomer music."
"For some people, it takes some getting used to aesthetically, I guess," Les says. "Emotionally, [our music] comes from a place people have been able to resonate with. It's nice to see that happen, where people buy in even if it's not the music they usually listen to."


Brady and Les' breakthrough track, "Money Machine," starts with a threat: "Hey, you little piss baby/You think you're so fucking cool? Huh?/You think you're so fucking tough?/You talk a lotta big game for someone with such a small truck." It then descends into a chorus so infectiously catchy it's hard not to want to sing along. It's that sort of absurdist humor and reflection that has earned Les and Brady an ever-growing fanbase along with critical acclaim.

And with increased popularity come the thousands of think pieces attempting to decipher what 100 Gecs is trying to accomplish. Are Les and Brady the vanguards of experimental pop, or is all being done for irony's sake?

The two aren't all that concerned about how their music is being perceived or whether it's being misunderstood.

"I don't really know people's understanding of things, I suppose," Brady says. "We just make songs we like."

"We're trying to some catchy pop songs and have a good time," Les adds.

If their debut album, 1000 Gecs, was a blueprint for their pop experimentation, last year's remix, 1000 Gecs and the Tree of Clues, built upon that foundation, proving once and for all that Les and Brady aren't doing it for the laughs. Featuring collaborations with everyone from A.G. Cook and Charli XCX to Fall Out Boy and Chiodos' Craig Owens, the remix album put into sharper focus the work on their debut. "xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx" got a boost of melancholy thanks to Hannah Diamond and Tommy Cash, while "Hand Crushed by a Mallet" became the pop-punk masterpiece it was destined to be thanks to Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump lending his vocals to the intro.
And for all the grab bag of influences that comes through 100 Gecs' work — hardcore, nu-metal, ska, pop-punk, dubstep — it doesn't come off hipster ridicule. Les and Brady genuinely seem to be fans of genres that may not have gotten a fair shake a decade ago. (Last year's collaboration with 2000s music critics' punching bag 3OH!3, "Lonely Machines," is proof of that.)

"Sometimes it takes a bit of a leap of faith or a bit of embracing, and then you're like, 'Wow, I love this, actually,'" Les says of their influences. "Korn is great when people aren't in your ear telling you it's bad."

Regardless of how maximalist 100 Gecs' sound can be, it wouldn't be as well-received if the melodies and hooks weren't there — and there's no shortage of those in the pair's catalog.

"It's just an aesthetic thing," Les says. "We've always liked catchy hooks and catchy melodies — we want to do that."

That acute understanding of good pop structure has already led to invitations to Brady and Les to produce for artists like Rico Nasty, Charli XCX, and Alice Longyu Gao. That's in addition to the solo work they release. (Earlier this year, Les released "Haunted," a single that seems to harken back to early Crystal Castles.)

When you hear tracks like Charli XCX's Brady-produced track "Click" or Rico Nasty's "Pussy Poppin," which the pair produced jointly, it's easy to hear their contribution. Yet their telltale sound never drowns out that of the artist — and that's intentional.

"When you are producing for someone else, you need to understand the artist and what they are trying to say and how they're trying to say it," Brady explains.

When it comes to working on 100 Gecs, he says, "It's whatever we want to do and however we want to do it" — something that hasn't changed even after signing with a major label like Atlantic Records. "We understand each other super well."

Adds Les: "It's less about locking in with an outside person and more about how can we amplify each other's ideas."

100 Gecs. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 6, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $21.50 via ticketmaster.com.
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Jose D. Duran has been the associate web editor of Miami New Times since 2008. He's the voice and strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's music, entertainment, and cultural scenes since 2006, previously through sites such as MiamiNights.com and OnBeat.com. He earned his BS in journalism with a minor in art history from the University of Florida. He's a South Florida native and will be a Miami resident as long as climate change permits and the temperature doesn't drop below 60 degrees.
Contact: Jose D. Duran