To be labeled avant garde, you have to always think outside the box. As genre lines continue to bend in music, new artists are experimenting with ways to express themselves through multiple influences and interests. The DIY spirit has been resurrected in crews like Odd Future, A$AP Mob, and Brockhampton, inspiring the next wave of social misfits to be just as impactful with their creativity and art. Poised to make a name for themselves is Avant Garde Club (AG Club for short), a 14-member group of creatives from the East Bay that is made up of musicians, directors, filmmakers, content creators, photographers, and designers.
“Whether it was going to be group, gang, squad, crew, or club, we wanted to have something that let people know this was the collective,” Baby Boy says. “The avant garde part comes from the fact that no one at the time was making music that sounded like ours. Avant garde, to us, meant an artistic revolution.”
AG Club was founded in 2017 after Baby Boy and Jody Fontaine linked up for a studio session through a producer friend. Jody started following Baby on Twitter after discovering one of his music videos he made and instantly became a fan. Before joining AG Club, Baby was making music videos for other local acts. So for Baby and Jody to have good chemistry off that session was a sign of things to come. They made their first song “want to,” followed by another called “flowersss” that were both uploaded on SoundCloud with the hashtag wavy and under a “nameless” collective.
After brainstorming several names, they landed on “AG Club” because their brand of off-kilter music was nothing like what was coming out of Oakland and San Francisco. “At the time, SOB x RBE was really big. A lot of people were trying to make songs that sounded like Vallejo music,” Jody says. “So that was pretty much the scene. We just knew we really didn’t make music like that. Even though we really liked music like that, it wasn’t in us.”
Growing up as internet kids, it allowed AG Club to expand their influences outside of pioneering Bay Area artists like Too $hort, E-40, and Mac Dre. Most members of AG Club are around the same age and went to the same high school together, developing their tastes through a WiFi connection and a Google search. Combined, Jody and Baby list Stevie Wonder, Michael Buble, Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator, Odd Future, Pharrell, Kanye West and T-Pain as their inspirations, specifically how they broke the mold and branded themselves beyond music. In that regard, AG Club wants to be “genre-less,” creating what they want so it doesn’t limit them.
That mentality has proven fruitful for the crew. In just three years, AG Club released 2019’s In My Mind: The Prequel and 2020’s Halfway Off the Porch, which the latter featured their breakout single “Memphis.” Jody admits it was one of the last songs they made for Halfway Off the Porch and became an “accidental” hit. “We didn’t mean for it to happen. But this some shit you never seen before,” Jody says. “That was the precursor to all this shit that is happening now.” “Memphis” has garnered almost two million views on YouTube, over 6,400,000 plays on Spotify, and an official remix by NLE Choppa and A$AP Ferg.
AG Club emphasizes the art of storytelling that allows them to create striking visuals. When you listen to an AG Club song, you should also be excited for the fire music video they’ve already conceptualized for it. Along with their main directors Manny Madrigal of 777 Media and Ivan Collaco, you get masterpieces like “Hngover,” which deals with very real instances of drugs and violence. The video for “Columbia” shows what happens when your crew adopts an alien. It’s all genuinely AG, where their inspirations come out through their execution.
“We make our music and we are really focused on an overall aesthetic,” says Jody. “Creating a world out of our content – everything we put out. So, we are just trying to get to the point where we don’t get compared to anyone. And people know us for AG Club.”
In 2021, AG Club was named one of the 21 rising artists to watch by Pigeons & Planes and their prediction is right on target. AG Club’s FYE (Fuck Your Expectations) Pt 1 and Pt 2 were released in Spring 2021, recorded mostly during quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. The title is self-explanatory. “Leave yourself with an open mind so you can consume whatever we give you so that you’ll fuck with it,” Jody says. “Because expectations ruin everything.”
Singles “Columbia” and “UGUDBRU” are face-scrunching bangers while “NOHO” (featuring ICECOLDBISHOP) and “A BITCH CURIOUS” (featuring Sam Truth) are instant bops. “JABBARS HOUSE” and “ALTA BATES” have interesting backstories in their song titles, representing a full circle moment for artists who are just now finding their purpose.
The band, AG Club, their in-house content teams CAJH and 777 Media, and their fashion brand Impressions will be household names in 2021. The goal is to dominate in all creative fields: music, film, TV, and fashion. Everyone involved in the collective will get a boost in visibility.
“We kind of look at our existence as a network on television,” Jody says. “If you turn your TV to Nickelodeon or something, you’ll probably see within 24 hours like two or three movies. Like 12 TV shows and maybe a special or two. That’s kind of how we feel AG Club could operate one day. We are the place where you go to find everything.”