GESS is back with a juicy, new summer EP, called Tangerine. As his first major release since 2020, the Los Angeles-based queer artist's sound is slicker and tighter, trading in smoky synth drones for sparse guitar plucks, with trance-inducing drums running in the background.

Having spent the time since his last EP, Psyche, releasing dreamy single after dreamy single (such as 2021’s sultry yet menacing “Dignity”), Tangerine maintains GESS' pop-R&B sensibilities. Only now, the darkness overcasting his songs has cleared away slightly, still sitting there as clouds in the ambient background, but with a ray of sunshine blasting through.

To celebrate the release of his new EP, GESS gave PAPER a track-by-track breakdown of Tangerine, from getting his idea for it back in 2020 and fleshing it out into seven minutes and 14 seconds of pure bliss.

"Fuckboys" (Beat Produced by GC)

"Fuckboys" was a song I wrote in the middle of 2020 over a very different beat with no intention of ever releasing it. It was my way of venting about a guy I was seeing right before the pandemic who showered me with adoration and gifts for months and then completely ghosted. In true fuckboy form, he tried to slide back in my DMs six months later during quarantine as if nothing ever happened. While writing this EP, I got the idea to rework the original idea and what I ended up with is a fun, empowering song that calls out all of the emotionally immature men that we’ve all encountered at some point in our lives. The lyrics were a huge fan favorite at LA Pride this year.

Favorite lyric: "Why's your face looking all screwed up? Are you not used to being confronted? Tryna act like you're laid back, but you're just emotionally stunted."

"Summer Nights" feat. Freddie (Beat Produced by Sighost)

"Summer Nights" is track two off the Tangerine EP and features my good friend and incredible artist, Freddie. "Summer Nights" serves as the next chapter in the overarching story of the EP. In track one we’re saying no to fuckboys; in track two we’ve moved onto letting loose with our friends and opening ourselves up to steamy late-nights encounters. The song was co-written with Freddie at my home studio in DTLA and blends an old school R&B sound with more current production.

Favorite lyric: "Then you throw me on the bed. Drip drip drip, you dripping wet. Bet the neighbors won't forget."

"Tangerine" (Beat Produced by Activebynight)

"Tangerine" is the title track, my favorite song on the project and was added to the EP at the very last minute after I decided I wanted a third song on the project. I pulled an all-nighter, and wrote and recorded this song in 36 hours. "Tangerine" is the final chapter of the story. We started by calling out fuckboys and knowing our worth, moved onto having pure fun and one night stands, and ended with finding a relationship and partner that is healthy and mature. This song is the most personal to me as it's essentially a love letter to my boyfriend, and the lyrics are a vulnerable expression of how I feel in this relationship and things that we've been through together.

Favorite lyric: "You're the only one I could call up nightly, talking bout nonsense. Love you even more when we get done fighting and you lay on my chest."

Stream GESS' Tangerine EP, below.

Photography: Demetri Tertulien