A Conversation with AG Club: Reflecting on 'See You Next Year 2' and Finding Joy in the Process [Interview]

Brooks Finby

On See You Next Year 2, Pigeons & Planes brought together an army of creative talent that’s been bubbling on the scene. The roster is a who’s who of rising artists that are defying genre conventions to create some of the most exciting music of the current moment. From rock-rap stars that can’t be easily boxed in like Paris Texas and Kenny Mason to immensely talented producers like Monte Booker and Hamond, the team is stacked. The second single off the upcoming collaborative album is by AG Club, an ecclectic music group from the Bay Area, with a feature from LA’s technically brilliant ICECOLDBISHOP. It’s a gospel-inspired track swelling with hope and emotional vulnerability. Having opened for veteran rappers like Pusha T and Denzel Curry and played at festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, AG Club has made a name for themselves with consistently great shows. Coming off a recent set at Tyler the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw, duo Jody Fontaine and Baby Boy were in high spirits when I spoke with them over Zoom. We dove deep into the four-hour-long making of “How To Cry” and the beauty of exploring creatively without stressing about the end result.

[This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]

What was your first impression when you arrived at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios?

BABY BOY: I can’t wait to tell my mom about this. 

JODY FONTAINE: My mind went blank. Everything that I knew about its history disappeared. Going around the grounds and seeing all these famous spaces, like the Bob Dylan bus and the Chapel, was crazy. It was sick seeing how many different spaces there were for creating because we started making music in a similar way, like in different rooms of my house, so this felt like a very grown-up version of that. There was just an energy there, like you knew you were going to make something tight. 

BABY BOY: It was also beautiful to see so many amazing artists all together in one space.

Going off that, what was the group dynamic like among the See You Next Year 2 cohort? What was that collaborative process like working with the other artists? 

JODY FONTAINE: It kinda just happened. There was always stuff going on, and if you were in the room, you could be a part of it. If you catch a moment, you catch a moment. The people who were running it established that this was a space to try things together and experiment. 

The song we ended up making, “How To Cry,” was made on a day where we didn’t even have a studio session. There was a schedule, like you had a certain room on a certain day with different producers. But our approach was to show up every single day, even if we weren’t making any music. We wanted to soak it all up. So with “How To Cry,” we were there vibing and it all happened organically. It really speaks to the whole experience of See You Next Year.

That’s such a beautiful, healthy dynamic to foster creativity. So different from the soulless machine assembly line that can often happen in the music industry. 

JODY FONTAINE: It brought everyone back to the basics of how we all started making music. Everyone was on the same level. There was no ego. 

BABY BOY: Yeah, everyone connected in a way that was so intimate. The space tea helped with that too. Even though we didn’t make music with everyone there, it was so sick to see all the other artists working.

Can you describe the headspace you were in when you made “How To Cry”? What emotions were you experiencing?

BABY BOY (busy petting a dog): I’ll let Jody take this one. 

JODY FONTAINE: Dawg, to be real with you, we were geeked

Jahan (Baby Boy) and I were at the beach, staring at the waves. On the way back, I remember telling him, “I haven’t been able to cry for months, but I feel like I just learned how to cry again.” He was on the same wavelength so we knew we had to make something right then. So we went back into the house to the live room, and I started messing around on the piano.  I don’t know how to play the piano at all, but I had that idea in my head: I just learned how to cry. I just learned how to cry. So we kept freestyling trying to figure out the melody. The best moments of our songs always go like that, where we’re just bouncing ideas off each other and improvising. 

We were chasing the dragon at that point, so we searched the house for someone who could play the keys to get the song to the next level. There was a piano set-up in the living room that Dustin was at. We gave him an idea of the melody, and he caught it almost instantly. We were jamming out. People started showing up and crowding around. We were so in the zone that we didn’t even realize they were there.

Then, ICECOLDBISHOP popped in out of the main room and started freestyling. We kept going until finally Le’Roy took us into the main room. Dave Drake, an insane pianist, was there and played until his hands cramped up. He took it to a whole other level. We riffed for four hours straight. Dave added in the organ and man, me and Jahan grew up in church, so it felt like the Gospel. We ended up having to cut down 3 hours and 55 minutes to turn it into a record. Most beautiful experience making a song ever. 

Which do you feel more drawn to now when it comes to song creation: careful penmanship or free-form improvisation? 

BABY BOY: I’d say the latter. We tend to make songs based on how we’re feeling that day, what we’ve been listening to recently, and it goes from there. How we make music is very sporadic. It’s all over the place, but it’s beautiful. 

JODY FONTAINE: Yeah, when we’ve made our best songs, it’s really been us bouncing off each other’s feelings. We love to write intentionally, but our best stuff comes from jamming out. We have a new project that we’re putting out soon. A lot of the records on it came from us writing verses, but we have this one song, “Iron Giant,” that came from us riffing after we watched the movie. Jahon caught a vibe, and I did my best to enhance that.

During your time at Shangri-La, who impressed you the most?

BABY BOY: King Isis, for sure. Everything she worked on came out so beautiful. Her vocals are incredible. She was going off. I mean, everyone was so cool. The photographers too. Shoutout Parker, Sabine, Olive, and Emma. They’re amazing. They got some crazy candids that might be the best photos of us ever taken.

JODY FONTAINE: Talk about Chase. You too federal!!

BABY BOY: I wish I had listened to that song because I can’t remember the words. But dude, Chase Plato is next. He’s so fucking good. He had this song that we walked in on during one of the last days. Damn, I want to hear that song so bad!

Also, Love Spells. He’s like a solar flare. He’s got that energy. He’s like our cousin now. 

JODY FONTAINE: Monte Booker is incredible. That dude is an alien. Every single time I got to peek in at him working, I was like, “Damn, he’s a legend.” Kenny Mason too. Also an alien. His approach to everything is so cool and dialed-in. He’s a freestyler and he’s so quick to catch onto an idea. He cements it instantly. 

Hamond was also sick. He was working on a track with King Isis that was absolutely nutty. People like that, who are left of center and trying something weird, are so sick. At Shangri-La, the Neverland Ranch of music makers, the goal was to get as weird as possible and try shit out. It wasn’t about making a perfect, polished song. Do that when you’re at home in a regular studio session. Not here.

Yeah, that’s really how music evolves. That left-of-center music is how artists get inspired. When music is just made for doing numbers or trends, it’s so bland! That’s why I think ICECOLDBISHOP’s sound is so dope. His vocal delivery and flow are so distinct. Whenever he comes in on a track, you’re like, “Woah, what is this?!” He’s electric. 

JODY FONTAINE: That dude can rap on anything. And sing too. ICECOLDBISHOP can make anything sound cool. Bro has like 27 different voices in his arsenal. He’s got so many different ways to approach a track. It’s crazy watching him work.

How do you feel you grew as artists during your week at Shangri-La? What were your big takeaways?

BABY BOY: I feel like I grew in so many different directions. For a good part of it, I was really anxious. There’s nothing really expected of you, but still you know you could do something great there—and you know everyone else is going to do something great there—so it was a bit scary. 

The trip we had right before we made “How To Cry” made me so much more at peace with myself and those around me. That pressure that I made up in my head was alleviated by the love that was there, if that makes sense.

JODY FONTAINE: We’re both pretty reclusive as artists, so we didn’t really know how to approach collaborating with folks. The two of us have been doing this by ourselves for so long. So when we went to Shangri-La, it felt intimidating. You know, how do we find our place in this and operate with all of these different established people? But that day really opened us up and took away that fear. Everyone who’s here is supposed to be here, including us. We all have a love for music and enjoy creating.

Also, another big takeaway was that we love jamming. Under a label, things can get so structured and formulaic that it causes us to overthink. You know, obsessing about a final product before we’ve even started it. It stops us from having fun. Leaving Shangri-La, we realized that we do this because we enjoy the process. We don’t have to go into the studio and instantly write a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge. We can jam and figure it out along the way until something comes.

I love to hear that. It’s like being a kid again. I think the world would be so much better of a place if we stopped taking ourselves so seriously. But now, I want to hear more about your upcoming album, BRODIE WORLD. What can you tell me about it?

JODY FONTAINE: It’s the most fun we’ve had working on a project in a long time. Every single song that’s on there is from us exploring and trying new things. We’ve had a hand in producing a lot of these tracks. We’ve been playing around with a lot of new methods of making music. We’ve found a new sound, I think. Our first projects were mad vulnerable, and that’s good, because we had a lot to get off our chests back then. This project is a lot less angsty.

The concept for BRODIE WORLD comes from our homie Flip. He draws these little characters called brodies. It’s a part of our language as a crew, which is important to us. It speaks to where we are from and who we are. So the whole Brodie thing is like, well, let me give an example: If Flip saw someone playing the guitar, he’d be like, “Oh, that’s guitar brodie.” If someone drifts cars, that’s “drift brodie.” So we had the idea way back in 2021 to make a project called BRODIE WORLD that would be a tape for us to have fun and explore new things.

This is a project purely for the homies. That includes girls too. People who use they/them too. We’re all brodies.

We got to work with a lot of our homies on it. Our homie Aka is on it. He’s the bro.

I just interviewed him! Igwe?

JODY FONTAINE: Yeah, that’s our boy. We also got a song with our homie Mike Dimes. He’s incredible. We went on the Denzel Curry tour with him. Bro, one of the realest friends we’ve met through this rap shit. Even though he’s younger than us, he’s always calling to chew us out about being professional.

For the production, we worked with our homie Saint Patrick a bunch. Dilip and Berg too. They have great ears for music. We worked with our big homies, Hippie Sabotage. Sidebar about them, we’ve been listening to them since middle school. They’re old as fuck! At the beginning of last year, they took us under their wing and helped us to enhance ourselves as artists. They took us to Hawaii to teach us how to engineer and produce. They showed us how to use Ableton. They’re great guys and support us so much. 

BABY BOY: This project is the one that’s going to get the dudes to shake ass and girls to throw the ones. But for real, this is some of the best music we have made. It’s so full of life.

Anything else you’re working on at the moment?

JODY FONTAINE: There’s always stuff bubbling. Baby Boy and our homie Manny are working on some short films. We’re trying to build the CAJH skate team. We’re also working on building spaces for our community back home. Our focus is to use the resources and the infrastructure we have at our disposal to support the 925. It’s very important to us.

“How To Cry” is available now on all streaming platforms.

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