MAGNET Exclusive: Premiere Of Zeke Bleek’s “26 Exes” Video

A drifter with a mysterious past and a weathered, gray-scale fashion sense, Zeke Bleek must have a million stories. But when Butch Vig heard the one about his checkered love life, he knew he had the kernel of a great song. Seems the first names of Bleek’s former lovers can all be listed in alphabetical order. Hence “26 eXes” and its telling chorus: “What’s life’s biggest mystery?/I say the opposite sex is/There’s 26 letters in the alphabet/And I got 26 exes.”

“I’ve been replaying my various breakups in my head—and out loud—for my whole life, it seems,” says Bleek. “Each one left a mark, whether it was just a quick fling in my early 20s or the one who got away … with my daddy. Those moments where you just know it’s over—they’re all memorable and unique … little snowflake-shaped bruises on my heart.”

Co-written and produced by Vig (Garbage, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins), “26 eXes” marks Bleek’s unlikely debut as a recording artist. When you’re friends with one rock’s most celebrated producers, things have a way of falling into place. “Besides the bad luck with the ladies, Zeke doesn’t really talk much about himself—like, at all,” says Vig. “I have no idea where he’s originally from. New Mexico? Louisiana? Maybe Ireland? I can’t even get a straight answer on whether he’s ever recorded before. But it works.”

More than a decade ago, Vig ran into Bleek in a high-desert bar and was quickly sucked into his rough-and-tumble real-life narrative. “I was running down the list (of exes) for a few buddies in a bar, like I sometimes do, and this fella overheard me,” says Bleek. “He came up and said, ‘Can I buy you a drink, Zeke? My name’s Butch, and I think you need to take your pain and make a record.’ So, here we are.”

Their loose partnership officially began when Bleek was photographed for the label of Vig’s Bad Boyfriend Sauvignon Blanc. Things have since headed in a more musical direction, with an EP set for release in the fall. Bleek handled the lyrics and the singing, and Vig took care of the rest, throwing together a backup band of accomplished players called the Mighty Weak.

The video for “26 eXes” was directed by Tess Lafia, who’s worked with big names like Colbie Caillat, Sheryl Crow and Sublime. It features Ruby Marker (daughter of Vig’s Garbage bandmate, Steve Marker) and also includes a cameo from Silversun Pickups’ Nikki Monninger.

“We wanted the video to be like a time capsule or a time machine, with all 26 of my exes throughout the years somehow showing up on common ground—like a Venn diagram and a Bermuda Triangle all at once,” says Bleek. “It turned out that me being a portrait artist at a county fair was a great solution. They put up a gorgeous backdrop, got me an old-timey camera and assembled an eclectic cast of talented women who came more than ready to break hearts. Mission accomplished.”

We’re proud to premiere Zeke Bleek’s “26 eXes” video.

—Hobart Rowland