Welcome To AG Club’s World

Welcome To AG Club’s World

Since their 2017 inception, it feels like the Bay Area’s AG Club have been through eons of trials and errors. The sprawling collective is spearheaded by the de facto leaders Jody Fontaine and Baby Boy and their videographers Manny Madrigal and Ivan Collaco. Everyone else caught in the colorful crossfire could become a member of the Club as well, as evident in the sprawling network of designers, collaborators, and friends that make up their growing universe.

But as with most things, joy can turn into a chore. As evident in their titles, both 2021’s Fuck Your Expectations Pt. 1 and 2 and 2022’s Impostor Syndrome grappled with their growing fame and the struggle to stay on the path they’ve set for themselves. Coming off a hot festival circuit which included their first Coachella performances and an explosive Camp Flog Gnaw set, a massively successful tour supporting Denzel Curry, and the seeds of their growing multimedia empire for a new digital age blooming rapidly, Jody and Baby knew they needed to come back down for air at some point. Enter the group’s latest album, BRODIE WORLD, out today.

While minimal by AG Club’s standards, BRODIE WORLD is still teeming with the day-glo, reckless, youthful charm listeners can shamelessly indulge in. “Barry” collides their regional Bay Area-bounce with Latin flavors cushioned by pillowy bass thumps, while “KUROSAWA” featuring young Texas up-and-comer Mike Dimes lays out the sensual, lush soundscapes perfect for the club, Instagram Story soundtracks, and long night drives. The two even got a crash course in production and engineering from fellow duo Hippie Sabotage, leading to the Memphis horrorcore-tinged “that’s right daddy” featuring Igwe Aka and Mercury. The playful “I’m tryna fuck sum’n” hook’s crudeness is off-set by AG Club’s entire aura: There’s probably a sliver of truth in it, but it also feels like an unintentional, playful mantra that grew from countless sessions into a full-fledged banger.

As easy as it is to try to draw comparisons to great hip-hop collectives of recent, notably A$AP Mob, Brockhampton, and Odd Future, AG Club exists in their own lane. While the two went their separate ways the day before their massive release party to complete some errands (Jody sipping on Jamba Juice and Baby Boy hiding out in a car), the minds behind one of hip-hop’s most exciting acts came together to discuss how BRODIE WORLD came to be, the influence of childhood cartoons on their artistry, and how community is earned, not given.

Below, stream BRODIE WORLD and read our conversation.

It’s been two years since Imposter Syndrome, an eternity in this crazy musical economy. How are you feeling?

JODY FONTAINE: Shit, I’m feeling really, really good about this. This project was really fun. I’ll leave it within the context of just this project and not compare it to anything. It feels dope and we love this music, which is cool because sometimes you get burnt out when you sit with something for so long. But, we still love it and the energy is really high.

BABY BOY: We’re turning this into a Brodie World.

The energy surrounding this project feels very different from all your other records. It feels like the mindset and goal is a lot looser.

FONTAINE: A few years back, we knew we wanted to make something like a mixtape because we had just been making really serious, involved albums. We knew that at some point when we were done with all that, we wanted to slow it down and make something that didn’t feel like so much of a daunting, grueling thing. We had tried working on it in 2021 but it didn’t end up happening because we dropped Fuck Your Expectations Pt. 1 and 2. We worked on a pass of BRODIE WORLD, but it just didn’t make sense after those were dropped. We just went right into Imposter Syndrome in 2022.

We started working on this around mid-2023. We were doing what we called “throwing darts” where we were just trying to make stuff and see what sticks. So that’s what we told everybody. Whenever we worked with producers, we were just like, we’re not really trying to work on an album right now. We’re just trying to make songs and see what makes sense. The songs are starting to stack up and at a point, we realized we had some BRODIE WORLD stuff. We have something that could be this thing that we’ve been trying to make, because we’ve been having so much fun and just making shit and not thinking about it too much. That was the whole point. It’s just been a really sick process just getting to be so hands-on with it production-wise. It’s fun, but I feel like sometimes when you say “fun,” it has that connotation of how you didn’t try or it didn’t matter as much. That’s not the case at all. We really tried to push ourselves to try new things and really develop our sound. Even though it’s fun, light, and you can see where we’re trying to turn it up, we’re trying to become more self-sufficient. We’ve been playing with a lot of different methods for recording and processing vocals. I feel like we’ve grown and it’s cool.

There seems to be both more and less at stake. BRODIE WORLD sounds like you’re getting to the simplicity of what made you guys so special and interesting early on in your career, and even though some of these songs are a bit more minimal than what the average AG Club fan may be used to, it’s evident that there’s a whole world you’re building behind it.

FONTAINE: I think we found a balance with this project. With our past projects, we like to make a lot of different songs. Halfway Off the Porch was the most genuine of that. We made a bunch of songs, and there were all these different sounds and textures. It was like a painting! There’s all these different colors on it. At a certain point soon after, we got caught up in the mindset of: you have to define what people are gonna think you are and then you have to lean into it. Whatever your thing is, you have to figure out your thing and then you have to make it materialize and then you have perfect that thing.

We go on to do Fuck Your Expectations and Impostor Syndrome and our whole shtick is that we have all these different lanes. But I feel like the process got way too calculated. Even the subject matter! With BRODIE WORLD, we tried to steer away from that and just let it be more of a natural thing. What we found is that there’s still that natural element of all of that and of us that we had in the first project more than anything we ever did, because this feels the most like that first one. We made stuff, and we saw that it was a painting with a bunch of different colors. We saw that there was like the “Cajh Day,” which is the real Bay Area sound and bounce, but there’s also “Iron Giant,” which is just… what the fuck even is that? There’s those different textures, but it wasn’t super intentional.

Moving forward, we know that we don’t really have to. I feel like this is kind of redefining ourselves and what AG Club is because it’s kind of a question mark and asterisk right now, and it has been for a while because we haven’t dropped in damn near two years. This current definition of it that we’ve created with this project is way easier to maintain because it’s just much more loose. And it kind of resembles us more in that way.

Visuals are a huge part of AG Club, and your love for movies shines through everything you do as you create this cinematic world. How does that influence the music?

FONTAINE: First and foremost, shoutout Manny. Our rock. Our… papa. There’s definitely a movie culture within all of us but Manny keeps us on our toes because he watches like 10 movies a day. Since the beginning, that has always been a way that we’ve bonded. We used to be at the old crib and it was mandatory that we had something playing while we were working on stuff. It’s still like that! Especially through all of these BRODIE WORLD sessions, we had some movie or TV show playing while we were recording. That influenced a lot of the song titles.

We’ve always said that we’re trying to make our thing like a network on TV. When you’re a kid and you flip your TV to Cartoon Network, you’d look at your schedule for the day because back then, we had guides and shit. You could see what was going to play for the next 24 hours and anything after that you couldn’t, but you didn’t care! That was life. In 24 hours of Cartoon Network scheduling, you would see seven or eight different shows, one movie, and then a special or two. That’s such a range of content.

We’ve always seen AG Club as a collective. There’s music, but there’s also video, and there’s also skating, and there’s also apparel. We have all these different things that we can do, and we also have friends that can do things. We just love consuming that types of media because they feel the most relatable as far as what we’re trying to do with world-building. It’s partially ego, though, because sometimes you really start watching movies and you’re wanting to be an asshole about it.

Once you make a Letterboxd, it’s over.

FONTAINE: It’s downhill from there. Like you just become the worst version of yourself because you need to watch everything that you n****s have never heard of. The references are everywhere, down to 70% of the song titles. There’s just so much in there, and even in the videos! That’s for the real ones to pick on. In five years or whatever, we’ll do some interview and reveal it all. By then, it will give us time to make up some shit to make it deeper.

Call me crazy if you wish, but I also think there’s this really interesting tension in the record. There’s an eerie, foreboding feeling in some tracks.

FONTAINE: I feel like those textures are just us trying to make it feel like a real thing. It’s super fun and lax as far as us making it, but I feel like we get kind of caught up. I can only speak for myself, but I get caught up in my own head. I wanted it to still be evident that there’s a lot of care and there’s a lot of attention.

When I think of someone saying, “I’m just a consumer. I’m not the guy making shit,” or someone saying, “My new album is just super fun,” I just know how that feels and I know where my mind goes. I don’t want it to go there and I don’t want people to get that idea with our shit. Whenever we do something like that, there’s still got to be something that makes it clear we’re really serious. Like, if we’re gonna make for y’all to be in the club going crazy to, it’s still gotta have a throughline somewhere that makes it AG Club. The mission statement is the same, but the feeling is different.

Going back to movies, there has to be some tension or some stakes because otherwise, it’s just a commercial.

FONTAINE: Exactly! It’s borderline edging.

Going back to being self-sufficient, what does that look like for you guys now that you’re several years into this.

BABY BOY: I feel like I’m still an infant child. Ever since we started making music, we’ve always had somebody who can produce music for us to help us but we always guide it in a certain direction. That’s how BRODIE WORLD came to be because we always go into the sessions like, play us some weird shit that you don’t want to play for anybody else. Give us that fire that everybody else would hate. We always try to guide it in that direction. but I feel like as far as everything else goes, like videos and graphics and stage design and marketing, we’ve been doubling down on that. Jody, he’s like a fucking super marketing computer. He’s calculated everything that can go right and wrong. We have Ivan and Manny, powerhouse video dudes. I feel like we’re on top of it. I feel like we’re growing every day.

FONTAINE: So me and Baby produced the “That’s Right, Daddy” song on the new project. We went to Hawaii with Hippie Sabotage to work on some shit in January of last year and they taught us how to use Ableton. We stayed up all night and they’re showing us how to make beats and shit. We stayed up all night recording it and taking turns engineering each other and working on the beat. We’ve had other songs we’ve produced, but that was the first one that we ever produced, recorded, and engineered together. That was a big step for us because, like Baby said, we’ve always had a facilitator. He’s been making beats all the time. He didn’t say all that because he’s trying to be bashful. We’re getting better at taking more control over what it is that we do so we don’t have to really depend on anyone, because in the past, that’s been something that’s completely derailed us. We were working with a person, and then that person does some stupid shit, and we can’t work with that person anymore. You get with another person and then it happens again. We’ve been trying so hard to rely on ourselves, and I think through this process, we’ve learned so much that has made us more of a force.

How do you strike that balance so that what you do doesn’t feel like a product you’re trying to sell?

FONTAINE: It’s a blessing that we’re young, because we could be some old n****s trying to cosplay as young n****s. It’s very much a product at that point. I think we just understand people want something to fuck with. People want something to be into. People want something to attach to. If you create something that people want to attach to, you don’t have to sell it to them because they just want to be a part of it. And if you make people feel like they can be a part of it, boom! What they decide to do beyond that is a plus.

We’re just trying to create the environment. I feel like that’s something that we’ve always been trying to do since the very beginning. When we started making music, we started calling ourselves Avant Garde Club, because there was nobody that we knew of in our area that was making shit that we wanted to make. We wanted to start making shit like that and we wanted to invite everybody else who had any interest in making shit like that to come fuck with us. It’s always been us searching for and trying to build community. N****s gotta eat, but feel like when trying to find the line, we lean more into our own detriment. We’ll gladly not sell some shit if it means preserving the shit that we believe in. If we do like a free show in Oakland and come out of pocket for it completely but the whole city gets to come and have hella fun, that’s what matters.

That’s all that matters.

FONTAINE: We’re all brodies.

BRODIE WORLD is out now via TheNamelessCollective/Epic.

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