What if you mixed the sun-soaked psychedelia of bands like Tame Impala with Motown-esque groovy electro-pop? There’s no need for conjecture friends, because those elements, and many more, are embodied in the soulful sounds of New York City-by-way-of New Orleans artist Mikey Hart, a.k.a. Ex Reyes, who recently released a brand new EP, Do Something. Hart could also easily add “budding philosopher” to his resumé:
Me: Are you having a good day so far?
He: I’m still in my slippers, so I’d call that a good day!
Me: Would you say you’re #blessed?
He: I’m not really a hashtag kind of guy. It seems like there’s a very specific organizational task they’re meant to accomplish, and if I’m organizing a moment my life along some sort of objective category, that feels al little strange, because I’m like, “Am I trying to align myself with everyone else who is in NYC or grateful or blessed?” Is it so that everyone who felt blessed that day can find each other and create their own community so that they no longer have to deal with anyone who doesn’t feel blessed?
Me: You just blew my mind.
Hart moved from the Big Easy to the Big Apple at the tender age of 17; “It was the opposite pace of New Orleans, and I was really curious about avant garde music and noise music,” he recalls. “Through discovering those things in New York, I came back around to a renewed New Orleans-influenced sound. Blending those two sides of the musical perspective is what gives me an identity and a drive.” Hart split his time between the two cities; when the Louisiana summer become characteristically oppressive, Hart would head back to New York to play in Washington Square Park, and when it was cold in New York, he would travel to New Orleans to busk with street bands. “New York is such an omnivorous musical climate, eventually, I started missing the weird and quirky indie stuff happening here, and since it fits my hyperactive nature, I decided I’d just stay here for a while,” he recalls.
“I do music with a lot of different people, and I love that collaborative role of trying to suss out what the other person is after, helping that person form a vision, and go after ideas. When I was working on my record, it was very collaborative; I decided not to aim at a particular spec, I just decided to let in whatever happened,” he explains of his creative process. “For me, the goal for music is be intuitive about making it and performing it and communicating it, because on some level, you just want to have a conversation with someone.”
“The musical conversation with an audience is a very special moment,” he continues. “I’ve played in all kinds of places, from subways in New York to stadiums in Poland, but there’s something so amazing about sharing something that comes from deep inside with an audience, no matter how big or small it is. You become like a junkie for it, and you go through all these crazy gesticulations in order to be able to do it for an hour every night. I would do anything, I’d learn to love Starbucks for it. I’d eat all my meals at Starbucks if I had to to keep doing it,” Hart admits with a laugh.
As for touring, Hart, who has played with How To Dress Well, The Strokes’ Albert Hammond, Jr., Sia, and A$AP Rocky to name a few, is looking forward to what’s next, which just might include a stop in the Volunteer State. “I used to be enamored with country music. I’ve even been to Dollywood. If anyone reads this and knows Dolly, I would die to meet her. She’s a national treasure. I’m down with Dolly. She’s next lev,” he declares. “The last time I was there, I was kind of down and out, but next time I’m in Dollywood, I’m going ham in the gift shop. I’m going to buy the hell out of some rock candy.”