Dehd: 2024

Dehd (photo by Gus Philippas, PR)
by Sam Sumpter | 06/10/2024 | 12:01am

Dehd (photo by Gus Philippas, PR)

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The 14 tracks that comprise Dehd's fifth album, Poetry, were shaped as the Chicago-born indie-rock trio road-tripped across the country. They spent time creating together in isolated locations, including a cabin on the Puget Sound and an off-the-grid “Earthship” in New Mexico, the latter of which bassist and singer Emily Kempf described — maybe jokingly, maybe not — as a cult; whatever it is, well, it worked.

While the sites and situations varied — the shifting settings helping the musicians shake things up, the dramatically different geographies serving as influences in and of themselves — the guiding light leading the musicians remained the same throughout the writing process.

Art begets art, and Poetry, true to its name, was actually inspired by a poem. Specifically, “The Laughing Heart” from Charles Bukowski, which implores the reader to wake up, take hold of their life and really make the most of it. Every day, Dehd singer and guitarist Jason Balla would play a recording of the poem, read by none other than Tom Waits, to set the tone for Kempf, himself and Dehd drummer Eric McGrady, and it’s this exact audio that currently greets you, sans introduction or explanation, when you dial the Dehd hotline (1-833-636-DEHD).

Poetry dropped May 10 on Fat Possum Records. While in town for iNDIEPLAZA back in April, Dehd — which is actually an acronym for Dream Eagles Heavy Dreams, a combination of Balla’s and Kempf's past individual projects — swung by Studio A to play a couple tracks from the new record, as well as a song from their 2022 album Blue Skies.

Kempf and Balla also joined me for a short interview, where they offered some insight on the "Laughing Heart" influence, the (mis)adventures that characterized this unconventional writing experience and how stoked they are for the opportunity to play these new songs live.

[Recorded: 4/19/24; Engineered by Jim O'Hara with Allen Wang and Nadia Garriga; produced by Meghan Offtermatt; videographers: Natalia Cruz, Caitria Demeroto, Anna Fahy, and Nikki Estelami.]

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