Driven by post-youth nostalgia and the people of their past, EXES — a bicoastal duo, fronted by Allie McDonald and producer Mike Derenzo— invite listeners into the whimsically romantic world of their design. Allie’s lyrical intimacy combined with Mike’s sonic intricacy allow the duo to create a detail-oriented sort of indie pop; equal parts affectionate and vulnerable in production, lyrics, and melody.
EXES wrote and recorded their first EP, “The Art of Saying Goodbye,” which garnered over 25 million streams across platforms and was featured on i-D Magazine, USA Today and Galore, among other outlets. Their songs have been heard and featured on ABC’s drama “Quantico,” Netflix’s re-boot of the fan favorite, “DeGrassi” and the UK’s BAFTA Award winning, “Made in Chelsea.”
The duo had additional success with singles that charted at Top 10 on HypeMachine and were featured on Taylor Swift’s “Songs Taylor Loves,” along with being featured on Spotify official playlists including, New Music Friday, Indie Pop and Chill Vibes. EXES has also been heard streaming in major retailers, Starbucks and H&M, on their in-store official playlists nationwide.
In between the two EPs, EXES released Taxi and Cain which garnered 2.68 million and 2.28 million Spotify streams respectively. The band has opened for Børns in LA at the Bardot and Ella Vos at both her SF and LA tour stops.
For a time the bi-coastal electropop duo wasn't sure it would get to its follow-up, but Before You Go just came out in October 2018..
Exes' Mike Derenzo confirms to Billboard that Before You Go is "something that almost didn't happen, so it feels great to have collected it all and worked on it and got it together." The issues were primarily interpersonal -- though not, Derenzo and cohort Allie McDonald found, insurmountable.
With Before You Go coming last Oct, Exes is already on to the next one. The duo had writing a writing session during July and another set for October, according to Derenzo. The duo is hoping to play live as well but, he says, "we like to play the right shows as opposed to playing a lot of shows." Meanwhile, he and McDonald are confident there won't be the same debilitating between-project crisis of confidence they experienced prior to Before You Go.
"We're really excited about what a 180 we've done from questioning if we're doing the right thing or should even be releasing music," McDonald says. "Now I want to release the songs we just wrote last month. What happened was kind of like a test, and I think we passed."
They’ve got a fresh sound and an intimate sensibility, with an uncanny ability to make the present seem like a memory, and memories seem present. I am certainly looking forward to what kind of emotional synth-pop they deliver this year.
With a gorgeous video filled with personal touches and an emotional dance, this song really breathes.
So today, with an itch to scratch, I choose Exes’ “Cain” as my, let it go, hold on, something sacred for always, song for a, belief in your self, things you know to be true, don’t press to hard for answers you already know, Tuesday.