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Chicago trio Dehd rose out of their city's D.I.Y. rock scene, with members initially splitting their time between multiple groups as the band took shape. Set apart by their direct, stripped-down approach, Dehd's infectious pop songs came doused in reverb and hit hard with minimal drumming and uncluttered arrangements. While the band first grew around the romantic relationship of its two songwriters, their breakup (and the decision to continue moving forward with the band) inspired a lot of the material for their 2019 album Water.
Dehd was formed in 2015 by Chicago musicians Jason Balla and Emily Kempf. The two had recently begun dating and formed the band amid commitments to other groups they were active with -- Kempf playing in Vail and Lala Lala when she took up bass and vocal duties in Dehd, and Balla singing and playing guitar in groups Ne-Hi and Earring before doing the same in the new project. They enlisted friend Eric McGrady as the drummer. McGrady, who had never played drums before joining Dehd, brought immediate personality to the band with his simple setup consisting of just a floor tom and snare. This minimal approach followed through to the rest of Dehd's sound, which found echoey vocal harmonies swimming in straightforward songs that borrowed from both girl group melodrama and the buzzy noise of C-86 bands, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and even hints of the sinister darkness of the Gun Club. Dehd released a self-titled album in 2016 and toured often. In 2017, they followed up with the six-song EP Fire of Love. In the summer of 2017, Balla and Kempf ended their romantic relationship. Rather than split up the band, they channeled the sadness and upheaval of their breakup into new songs for their 2019 album Water. ~ Fred Thomas