Exes perked some ears with its first EP, 2016’s The Art of Saying Goodbye — including a spot on Taylor Swift’s “Songs Taylor Loves” list. For a time the bi-coastal electropop duo wasn’t sure it would get to its follow-up, but Before You Go — whose second single “Everything” premieres exclusively below — is on the way.
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.
“I think we felt a lot of pressure after the first EP release, about what direction we were going in,” McDonald explains. “It was two different personalities and ideas and opinions on what we should do next. We were just having, like, a band issue, and we were almost going to break out. But we both kind of snapped out of it suddenly.” Derenzo adds that, “I think we had never really thought about how there are ups and downs, and of course there are going to be in any working relationship and creative endeavor. It’s a normal thing. We learned a lot and we learned more about each other, and I feel like we handle everything better now.”
Exes’ recovery was helped by the success of singles such as “Taxi” and “Cain,” which each scored more than two million streams on Spotify. There were also “folders full of songs,” according to Derenzo, from which Before You Go‘s eight tracks were drawn from — including the lush, swelling “Everything,” which is the second oldest song on the set, dating back to August of 2017.
“‘Everything’ was a little return to form, stylistically,” Drenzo says. “We intentionally made it kind of like our first material, like a bridge into the new things we tried here.” Lyrically, meanwhile, McDonald offers some personal insight into her romantic life.
“It very much feels like a love song,” she says, “but I think it has a lot more deeper themes to it. It’s more looking into my dating habits, how I’m a kind of person who will give everything to someone, even if I know I’m going to end up heartbroken in the end. It’s a strength I have, I think, but the song does have some underlying melancholy ideas to it. A lot of these songs (on Before You Go) are really raw and honest, which is definitely terrifying but also kind of a release. I’m glad we actually did this, ’cause it feels good to have them out.”
With Before You Go coming Oct. 5, 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.”