For the past five years, in between tours and session work with the likes of The Cranberries, Sia, Dam Funk, Albert Hammond Jr., Santigold and many others, Mikey Freedom Hart has been working tirelessly on his own project, Ex Reyes. Recently, much of this work has come to fruition in the form of the project’s debut release entitled, Do Something EP, which blends together elements of psychedelia, soul and indie rock into one of the most splendidly opulent, densely textural soundscapes imaginable. Guitar lines and Hart’s voice almost seem to hang like the humid air during a New York summer, and the songs literally drip from the speakers they’re so rich. With a careful attention to production that can harken as much to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds as Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam, the Do Something EP excels at blending classic and modern ideas and influences and marks a spectacular first outing for Ex Reyes.
Recently, CULTURE was able to catch up with Mikey to hear all about the making of the Do Something EP, his inspirations, and his open-mindedness on cannabis as a creative stimulant.
“You can get stimulation from coffee, or the euphoria you get from loving another person, so I think that there’s an artistic reason for opening that up which isn’t necessarily medical, when it comes to marijuana.”
You just released your debut, the Do Something EP, which was recorded over the course of five years. Were there any goals you had for it and do you feel like it has a unified vision having been worked on over such a long period of time?
Yes! The oldest thing on the album was written about five years ago and came out of a session where we had a track without a song. So, I kind of learned how to produce, and found this vision over that period of time. So in the fall of 2015, a relationship was ending and I didn’t really have a place to live, so I took off from touring and took that time to bring together a lot of the loose ends and finish them up into what I felt was a cohesive vibe. So that’s what I wanted to challenge myself with. So, now I’m recording, producing, and writing just a ton more music now that I’ve found that confidence.
Is there anything in particular that inspires your songwriting or puts you in a creative mood?
I think the thing about creativity for me is that I just try and be open to receive a creative idea. I think and read about creativity a lot, because I often wonder about what the vital component of human creativity is and why individual and group expression is such an important part of human nature. I believe those big vectors of creativity in our population form everything, and I believe the culture informs the industrial institutions just as much as vice-versa. So, if you have a specific idea you need to write it down, record a voice memo, or just capture it in that moment because it won’t last. Once you start doing that though, you begin building a catalog and putting fuel in the tank for when you really have time to sit down and put something together.
Cannabis has been a hot topic in the recent elections and in popular culture. Are you excited about the new legality of cannabis in so many states?
I always like the Bill Hicks bit about drugs inspiring great literature and art throughout the course of history. It’s true. And not even illegal drugs. You can get stimulation from coffee, or the euphoria you get from loving another person, so I think that there’s an artistic reason for opening that up which isn’t necessarily medical, when it comes to marijuana. My main thing is that it seems like the way resources are allocated towards things like prosecuting marijuana is that they can become tools for oppression. I just think it’s a huge waste . . . I’ve just never understood the allocating or resources to prosecuting such a benign thing. It’s like prohibition.
Is cannabis something that’s helped inspire you creatively?
Sure, I’m a really open minded person. I grew up in the South and in the church. When I was kind of growing away from the church I think I shared the same feelings of many who grow away from the church and was willing to be open to nearly any type of experience. I find that cataloging those experiences is super inspiring. So from time to time, it’s another vehicle for—or form of—creating a different mindset; having a drink, having a cup of coffee, having a little reefer, whatever it is.