Channeling in on the crazy ex trope, NYC queer pop artists Bentley Robles and Gregory Dillon have teamed up to write a razor-sharp anthem titled “Don’t Listen to This Song” that delivers a simple message to their past flings: “You’re so fucking stupid.”
Despite promises to play nice, the duo realized they both had some impeccable breakup credentials to boast. They quickly channeled their experience into two minutes of pure viral pop-punk IDGAF energy that lends to the likes of Gayle’s “ABCDEFU.” Robles and Dillon are still fresh on the scene, with their Spotify’s going back to 2019 and 2018 respectively, but both are talented musicians who are quickly making a name for themselves. “Don’t Listen to This Song” is a lighting in a bottle track, and the pair smashed it like a Molotov cocktail.
Instinct caught up with Robles and Dillon to talk more about the single, collaborating with each other, and what’s next.
Thank you for taking some time to chat with me! Can you begin by telling us more about the concept and inspiration behind “Don’t Listen to This Song?”
Bentley Robles: I had a really sketchy idea for this song. I’m like a big titles guy, and I loved the title “Don’t Listen to This Song.” I felt like it would be a cool, intriguing title, and I was very angry at the time of writing the demo. I was very much like, I hate you. You suck. The lines were a lot worse before Greg came in and played with them, but it was very much like, you’re the worst and I’m going to go in on you.
So, I played him the demo when we went to go write together in LA, and he was like, I love the vibe of this, but let’s take it to the next level. Once we started working on it, we really leaned into this idea of letting out all that ‘being the smaller’ person energy, essentially. Telling our ex exactly everything we hated about it. They suck, it’s their fault, not ours – just total ragging on your ex.
Gregory Dillon: Bentley is such a great conceptual artist. I feel like he pushed me to bring a concept into a session, where I kind of wing it. It’s funny because Bentley came forward with such a great idea, and I was thinking more about what kind of Teletubby costume we could use for this track. I feel like that was probably the most interesting departure straight off the bat for each other’s artist project.
Lately, I feel like I’ve been getting more invested in the weird, and Bentley brought kind of straightforward Gen Z concept into the session. I was so excited to work with it. Also, just for the record, that is us in the Teletubby costumes riding and wreaking havoc in the suburban neighborhood that is featured on the artwork. We knocked over how many mailboxes, Bentley?
BR: I think 23 (laughs).
Yeah, I was wondering what was going on with the Teletubby costumes.
BR: The Teletubby costumes are one of those things that was definitely from the mind of Greg. His energy is not a façade. It’s truly who he is 24/7, even if you have a moment alone with him. At first, I think it came from, let’s do something shocking and cool that people are going to remember.
Then I think everything kind of fell more into place because we also very much wanted to induce nostalgia. It has that singing in your garage, angsty energy. You know, two boys that have been heartbroken that put on Teletubby costumes running around in traffic. We wanted to be two bad boys just truly being stupid, and I feel like that’s where that energy kind of came from.
Is there a music video for this track?
BR: There is. As independent artists, we’re making all the decisions and we have amazing footage, but we haven’t come up with an exact date yet. It’s coming though!
Have you two worked together before?
GD: I feel like our collabs have been going back for at least a full year now. Bentley approached me a few times on Instagram, and I’m so aloof to this stuff. I’m glad that he was so persistent. He jumped into my DMs swearing that he was going to wine and dine me, and we were going to be besties. So, we ended up going to this Thai spot that is like a five-minute bike ride for both of us, and he did. He wooed me so fast. I believe we went to the studio later that week, and I was very excited. I feel like that’s kind of my favorite place to be. In a session in the studio, especially if I’m getting the chance to produce. I was ready for some magic to spark, and it doesn’t always, but lightning struck for one of Bentley’s tracks. We ended up writing it incredibly quick, and it was his first single in his new era, “I Hate the Weekend.”
BR: Yeah, it was like a lightning in a bottle session, and we’ve worked a lot together since then. Whether it’s been songs for Greg or songs for me, I truly feel at my happiest collaborating with Greg. There’s this symbiotic energy that’s very nice.
GD: I would also like to mention that I started a label and a collective called Sad Magic Records, which is for queer artists in Brooklyn. Bentley is the first artist on that label and collective, he’s my little protégé (laughs). It’s been the best.
Ultimately, what do you hope audiences take away from “Don’t Listen to This Song?”
BR: Personally, I want this to be a song that you play four times in a row in your car or while on the train, and you feel completely seen by it. Again, leaning into social norms about how we should behave, I’m someone that’s very emotional. We keep it together all the time, but I want this to be two minutes of pure selfish energy in the sense that it’s like, no, you suck. I’m amazing. That cathartic feeling of wow, I’m glad I dodged that bullet. I really want people to feel empowered, emboldened, and be the protagonist in those two minutes.
GD: That motivation truly gets me wanting to steal my ex’s car and run over his mailbox. I want that mailbox count to go up! I want people to feel like they can channel their energy in a violently playful way.
How has the track been received so far?
BR: Honestly, it’s been great. I think we’re constantly hard on ourselves because we don’t have a team of people. An independent artist’s team is either loved ones or good friends. I do feel like Greg’s in my camp, even though we don’t work for each other. His opinion weighs so heavily on my decisions. It’s hard to not constantly want to either reach all your goals immediately or outperform your last goals, but I’m very happy with the way the song has been received.
Our fan base has really accepted the song and they’re playing it and listening to it every single day. We haven’t done an insane amount of push for it yet since we’ve been letting it fly organically, but we have so many ideas for TikToks, promos, and working with amazing publications like this. We’re super hyped to see it get more legs.
In your opinion, what is it about breakup bangers that are so damn satisfying?
GD: I don’t think anyone wants to admit it, but we selfishly like to live in the drama. I feel like we’re all just little drama queens, and with a breakup banger, you kind of get to be the main character, or I guess the antihero at this point, as Taylor Swift would put it. I also find that the one thing I really like about the angle of this is irony. Everyone wants to seem polished.
I’m also really into fashion, and right now, ironic fashion is making interesting statements about what’s important to us or just how everything feels like it’s retrograding to stupidity. But there’s also something I find fun and intelligent about not having any kind of bar for yourself. I think it removes any kind of perfectionism or chains you might put on yourself.
Have you both always had a passion for music, singing, and songwriting?
BR: Yes. I’m a theater boy, and I started doing musical theater when I was around 13. I would write here and there, but singing was my passion. When I moved to New York City originally, it was to do Broadway. I did a ton of theater in California at the Grove, Candlelight Pavilion, and all over, and I was like, I’m literally going to make it. Then when I moved here, something switched. I think living in Brooklyn, there’s this life imitates art vibe. I felt this urge to write, and I decided to put out a demo one day. I think that’s the craziest part of any indie musician doing this. It’s so rare to do, but I’m glad I did it.
GD: I kind of had the same entry as Bentley, and I think that’s what makes us very close friends. I was your classic suburban sad boy. No friends, I would play the piano in my high school chapel alone. Yeah, I had a sad boy upbringing. Then I went into college with musical theater as my first entryway into all this, but I think I really liked the performance art value of it more. I love shock value, sets, all the craziness. The delusion of musical theater is what really appeals to me, and that’s what I try to bring over to the music side.
What are some other goals and accomplishments you hope to achieve with your respective careers?
BR: I just want to have a core group of people that are my family, who love my music, and I get to perform for, write songs for, and connect with all over the world forever. That’s genuinely what I want. I have a nice little Robles fam that supports me, loves me, buys my shit, listens to my music, and cheers me on when I go sing in their city. That’s really all I want, and for people to connect. I have never said this before in any interview in my life, or ever in life, but I’m a very emotional person. Feelings, emotion, connection – that is why I do it. It’s the best. Winning a Grammy would also be nice (laughs).
GD: My year was insanely turbulent because of personal reasons, so my goal of pushing out an album was kind of delayed to 2023, but it’s something that I am manifesting, and it’s a very new era for me. Dream job, I’m like a pizza delivery boy on rollerblades. That’s what I’m manifesting in this new era, and I think I’m going to make it happen. I should also give some context that it’s a very pop/punk era that I’m going into. I feel like I wasn’t exactly sure who I was becoming as an artist, and then I found this scene in Brooklyn that I really digested into. So, I’m very excited for that.
Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you would like to mention or plug?
BR: I guess the biggest thing for me is that my next single is coming out in January, so I’m hyped to do that.
GD: In relation to this song, we’re going to be doing some pretty crazy pranks with this track, and Bentley’s terrified (laughs). But I think that makes things better because if I didn’t have an accomplice that was terrified, it just wouldn’t be so sweet to do. We’re going to be stirring the song into some very interesting public pranks that are both safe and wholesome. Example being, blasting the track in the public library in our Teletubby costumes. We plan to get kicked out, and we did jump a red carpet. That bad boy energy is going to continue.
“Don’t Listen to This Song” is available on all digital streaming platforms.