Dylan Brady and Laura Les are on the same wavelength. Despite existing in separate environments for most of their musical journeys, the experimental duo comprising 100 Gecs is able to stay connected through their music. As is the case for their second studio album 10,000 Gecs due out later this year, Brady and Les remain locked into a successful creative process that transcends space and distance.
When we connect over Zoom, Brady and Les are stationed in their own respective locations, but it’s clear even through the screen that their rapport, humor, and ability to flow together remains as strong as ever. Their collaboration is a great joy and a key element to what fuels their musical partnership’s success.
High Times Magazine: Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, did you always know music was the path for each of you?
Laura Les: I always wanted it to be the path. I knew that it was going to be what I was going to do, but maybe not what I was going to be able to do, if that makes sense. I didn’t think I’d ever make any money doing it, so I was like, “Oh, well I’ll have to get a fucking job. A different thing. A job-type job.”
Dylan Brady: I found music a bit later. I was probably 18 when I was like, “I want to do this all the time forever.” I didn’t ever really think things that far down the line. Was just trying to make a bunch of tunes.
So you both enjoyed making music first and foremost and weren’t necessarily concerned with what would happen from that.
Les: We both enjoy making music for sure.
Was there a point then where the enjoyment of making music started to coalesce with the idea that, “this might be something more”?
Les: Well, there’s nothing more. It’s just somebody one day is like, “We’ll give you enough dollars to survive.” And you’re like, “Thank you. I guess I’m gonna quit my other job.” But there’s no more it can be if it’s already what you love, right?
So financial element aside, music is what you’d be doing despite another job in the periphery.
Les: I’d probably be working at the same fucking coffee shop, yeah [laughs]. I might be a manager by now.
Once music started to provide you with financial sustenance, was there a moment where you realized your music was in demand? As in, you realized perhaps what you were creating was becoming larger than what you initially set out to do?
Brady: It felt more gradual I suppose.
Les: I talk about this meeting all the time, when I met our manager now— Cody. Cody was only Dylan’s manager at the time, and after our album dropped, I went in to meet him. He was talking about all this stuff and getting going and whatnot because it was starting to get some steam, and I was like, “Do you think I can quit my other job from this?” And he was like, “Yeah, you can definitely quit your job.”
In terms of creative process, how do you go from ideating, to song, to printed track?
Les: One of us starts a song—Dylan mostly—and he’ll be like, “Yo, what do you think of this?”, and send a bounce. And I’ll be like, “Wow, would love to fuck with that a bit.” One of us will send it to the other, and the other one will work on it for a little bit. We have a Dropbox and we just kind of go back and forth.
Thankfully on our upcoming album, we’ve been able to be in the same place a lot, so that’s been nice. For the last album, we were in two different cities, and now we’re in the same city, so we can actually do stuff together, though usually when we link up to work, we end up fucking around anyway.
Is it a different experience when you are linking up versus sending files back and forth?
Les: Yeah, it’s way more fun. We watch stupid YouTube videos and listen to music mostly. We’ll hang out for like five hours and get one hour of work done.
Brady: Pretty good ratio.
Les: It’s a great ratio.
Does part of that ratio include cannabis consumption?
Brady: Cannabis is involved for me for sure.
Les: Well, there’s no weed in the Dropbox.
But is it part of your creative process?
Brady: Sometimes, yeah.
Les: Yeah, there’s definitely times where some weed smoking is happening.
Does it help you facilitate ideas? How does it aid?
Brady: Ehhhhhh, it does something. It makes me go crazy.
Crazy in what way?
Brady: You know, it’s different every time.
Les: Like really, really high.
Brady: [Laughs] It’s different every time.
Crazy thought spirals, crazy energy, crazy paranoia?
Brady: All three, a lot of it.
Les: I usually just get sleepy and paranoid and need to go to bed. Thankfully that hasn’t happened in a while.
Brady: Stuff like this: [holds up phone with art images]. Just doing some drawings over here. We’ll just sit in the studio and draw variations of this stuff.
Les: We smoked weed on tour that one time and then we stole a bunch of snacks from the hotel we were staying at. They had that little convenience store by the front desk and we wanted to buy the snacks, but nobody was down there. It was so late at night and we were so fucking hungry and just wanted to go back to the room and eat and go to bed. We were waiting around being like, “Yoooo, is anyone here?” And were just like, “Fuck it.” I don’t remember the full grocery list, but I remember Pop-Tarts and chips and Diet Coke.
Brady: We were ringing that bell.
Les: Believe me we were ringing the bell.
Les: That’s exactly what it sounded like.
Let’s go back to those renderings. Do you find that drawing helps create music?
Brady: Yes. I would say anything can inform any kind of thing.
Les: Everything is everything.
Brady: You’re in the kitchen cooking pasta…
Les: And you see a frog on the floor.
Brady: You see a frog on the floor and you’re like [snaps fingers], “That’s a song.”
Les: You get a tooth removed, that’s a song.
Brady: You smoke the poison weed at the music festival in Germany. That’s a song.
So for you guys, song creation is being observant to what’s around you every single day.
Brady: That’s part of it I think.
Les: Yes, in a way. What’s around you, what’s happening. How you feel about it. The life you’re living. It’s true, I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.
When it comes to writing songs and making music, has that creative process typically always been conducted with you both in separate locations?
Les: We’re just two different people. When we were literally in two different cities we were living two different lives. We still do live two different lives I guess, but we’re much more connected now.
Brady: Also for the first go around, a lot of those songs were made in batches for the Minecraft shows. So it was like, “Let’s make a few songs.” We just know each other and trust each other so it’s pretty easy and good.
Les: We’re on a wavelength.
Brady: We’re on a vibe.
Les: We’re definitely on a vibe.
Brady: We’re vibing.
To the point where it’s more instinctual and you can creatively infer what the other is trying to do on certain things?
Les: Yeah, and also we’re working towards a pretty common goal. The things we’re writing about might be different but we’re both working towards the same thing. We have a common goal in mind.
Conceptually or in general?
Les: All of it.
Brady: I’d say we’re pretty tapped in on all the vibes.
Les: We speak a language that we can both understand that might not make sense to some people, but we both speak it very fluently.
Did it take time for that language to develop or was it present from the beginning?
Brady: It progressed naturally over our friendship. We’ve known each other 12 to 15 years.
Les: Before we were working on music, we were sharing music all of the time and talking about what we were feeling. We found a lot of common ground in stuff.
Being friends first and fostering the love of music together—how important is that in terms of creating a cool, safe space, and letting that wavelength develop into a cool, creative partnership?
Les: I feel like it’s necessary for an enjoyable creative partnership. And having an enjoyable creative partnership… I probably wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t. There’s an element of trust that comes with that that’s really important to what we do.
Brady: Trust and understanding.
One would then think your output is better than if that wasn’t the case.
Les: Totally. There’s no way it couldn’t be that.
Brady: I heard that Fleetwood Mac album was pretty tough to make though.
Les: Which one?
Brady: Rumors. They all had that love triangle and all hated each other or something.
Les: And they did smash that glass. Maybe that should be our thing for the next album. We have to get really mad at each other.
Brady: Super toxic.
Les: I don’t usually like to work with other people most of the time. I wouldn’t want to be in a band/ partnership or whatever with anyone but Dylan because of that. It just sounds so fucking excruciating to have to balance those dynamics, especially when shit goes south.
Unless you were to take “when shit goes south” and put it back into the music.
Brady: The music might be good, but you still wouldn’t be having fun.
Les: I feel like the whole “pain into music” thing is great except for when you’re actually doing it. Then you’re like, “Wow, this fucking sucks. I wish I wasn’t doing it like this. I wish there was another way I could be making this music.”
Brady: Like having a great time.
Les: Right, I would rather be having a great time with my friend Dylan Brady.
When I’m working by myself a lot of the times, I get so in my head and fucked up about, “The words are just not fucking right, they’re not coming,” and “This just isn’t working, like these chords don’t sound right.” Then I’ll talk to Dylan and in like 20 minutes he has me totally calmed down and I’m feeling great about it. Then I’m like, “OK, cool. We’re going to get this shit done no problem.” If I didn’t have that dynamic with him, I would never get anything done. I barely get anything done even with the dynamic.
What does he say or do that helps you rein it in and move forward?
Les: Something about the goatee [laughs]…
Brady: It’s definitely a great two-way street on that front of supporting each other’s ideas and avoiding the second-guessing rigmarole.
Second guessing brought on by our good friend cannabis?
Brady: Can’t be.
Les: Definitely not.
Brady: That’s happening either way for sure.
Essentially you’re saying that creatively, you guys have a really cool yin and yang to each other’s processes.
Brady: Yeah, very fortunate for the situation that we’re in.
In terms of output from that situation, you have the new album coming out this fall?
Brady: It’s coming out this year for sure. Someone will know when it is and that isn’t us.
Les: It’s coming out. I swear to God we’re working on an album. [Laughs] I swear to God we’re working on one. Please don’t give up. I swear there’s an album.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind the upcoming record and what people can expect to experience with it?
Les: When you’re working on the songs, you don’t really think about it, but as we’ve been in the finishing process, it’s funny to look at it and see this is a bunch of different takes on different shit that’s happened since we put out the last album, just with our lives and shit.
Les: Yeah, it’s a lot of reflection on everything since the last album came out.
Tonally are there any “risks” you took? Or from a sound perspective, experimented with?
Brady: I got an eight-string guitar. Two banjos. Clarinet.
Les: Ukulele bass.
Brady: Massive speakers. All kinds of risks happening.
Les: I dunno if it’s “risks” so much as it’s us listening to different music and experimenting. You change over time, and so I feel like music has to change over time with you. You don’t think the same way about stuff forever and you also think about different things.
I think the music reflects different ways we were thinking about stuff and different music we were listening to. Some of it’s a little more raw in a way. Like we’re not Adele or anything, but you know what I mean? Raw. Sometimes you’re feeling raw. Sometimes you’re feeling like not like singing stupid words. So not all the songs are stupid words.
Brady: Some are frogs on the floor.
Les: There’s been a lot going on in the world and in our lives personally. It was a very natural thing, not like “We’re going to go for this thing this time.” It’s not like placing a bet or anything. It’s not that. It’s not like, “We’re going to put it all on red.”
Brady: We’re putting it all on banjo.
So it’s more where you’re both at individually in your lives and a product of the times.
Les: I mean, they’re connected, obviously. We live in the world, so [laughs]… We live in a society, you know? Sometimes you feel goofy and you write a song that’s a little bit goofy, and sometimes you’re feeling not goofy and you write a song that’s not so goofy. It all just makes sense.
And how do you decide what makes it to the album and what doesn’t?
Les: The best songs. I feel like it’s easy to be like one of those people who’s like, “This isn’t teeing the line with this ideal vibe or something. This isn’t ‘something’ enough.” Like, “This isn’t ‘sad’ enough to throw on my album.” We try to kill that as much as possible in the process, and a lot of that comes from how comfortable we are at reinforcing each other’s ideas.
Like that’s how I am by myself. When I’m by myself, I’m like, “Ahh, this line, it doesn’t fit right,” But when you have somebody there to counterbalance that, it’s much easier to just let whatever you’re feeling just be that. So it ends up a much more natural process in that way.
Interview originally appeared in High Times September 2022 issue.