Driven by post-youth nostalgia and the people of their past, EXES – the Venice Beach-based duo of Allie McDonald and Mike Derenzo – invite listeners into the whimsically romantic world of their design.
The two met while attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Allie was recording and uploading original songs to YouTube while Mike produced and made beats for a number of projects. Her intimacy combined with his intricacy to form a detail-oriented sort of pop, equal parts affectionate production and vulnerable words and melodies. Allie explains,
“We were just two kids dreaming in color. I was looking for a sound and Mike was looking for a voice. It was instant sonic chemistry the moment we started creating music together. It was as if it became easier to translate our kaleidoscope dreams into music. As a duo, we created something that as individuals we had difficulty doing.”
EXES debut EP The Art of Saying Goodbye out autumn 2016 came to life in Mike’s courtyard studio off Abbot Kinney in sunny Venice Beach. Despite the delicate topics there remains a colorful warmth to the music. “Even while singing of heartbreak and loss” says Allie “we tend to keep this naive, playful and hopeful attitude in our songs. I like to think our music sounds a bit like an overdramatic sixteen year old.” Two advance singles quickly cracked the Hypem charts, gaining critical praise, local L.A. celebrity crushes and over a million streams before the duo had even performed their first show.