Members: Emily Kempf, Jason Balla, Eric McGrady
Occupation: Instrumentalists, songwriters
Current Release: DEHD's Blue Skies is out via Fat Possum. The band is also embarking on a string of dates throughout Germany:
16.08.22: Köln - Live Music Hall (+ Future Islands)
17.08.22: München - TonHalle (+ Future Islands)
19.08.22: Dornstadt/Ulm - Obstwiesenfestival
20.08.22: Hamburg - Aalfest
05.11.22: Berlin - Pitchfork Music Festival
11.11.22: Hamburg- Molotow
If you enjoyed this interview with DEHD and would like to keep up to date with the band's work, visit their official website. They are also on Instagram, Facebook, and Sondcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
I believe that creating art and music is something I was born with and I continue to strengthen the channeling process and I grow and mature.
I think it’s an inner world of emotions and magic that I can pull from and feed at any given moment.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
I suppose I am always in the process of starting and middling and ending, it’s just a flow that channels through me (and us) we listen for it and jump in when we want or are called.
Nothing is permanent and everything is always changing
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions’?
When I draw I like my tools, and I like to organize things by color or shape and have a tidy work space. With music I just need everything to be turned on but the neatness or organization doesn’t matter so much - music floats in air and doesn’t need corralling.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Honestly I just jump in - sometimes having the extra things is nice but they are not necessary to make something. The energy comes from within and from all around
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I don’t view it as difficult or easy - it’s just there floating around and then some of us catch it and some let it pass by
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
I personally start with either piles of little lyrics and poems or a small simple 2-4 note melody, it just depends on the day.
The words rule me and push me emotionally just as much as a catchy melody can.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
A good lyric is extremely simple and filled with mystery at same time.
I always let myself be “bad” so I can get to the good. That is my best advice to writers: allow yourself to “suck”. It’s all relative anyways and it’s legit the only way to get “good”
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
It’s sort of just a pile of notes and words and rythyms that we al chase and dance with as a team! We are very good at sharing the musical void
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
(Laughs) Most definitely following - we are never pushy with the music, it will rebel and be bad. We just follow it and follow our intuition and hearts and great songs are born.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Absolutely all the time. It’s our job to listen and to trust this process when it does occur.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
It’s all spiritual for me and to me.
I’ve been calling it all the void lately but channeling also and sort of entering other realms of euphoria like when we play live. There is nothing better
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
Well I guess when there’s a deadline … (laughs) … wrap it up! Wherever it is now is the end! That’s how I see it.
Each project and album and song is one drop in the infinite water that is our lifetime of music. Perfection is impossible and unhealthy to attempt (in my opinion).
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
Again I don’t think it matters.
Sometimes it’s nice to let something sit and come back to check if it still rules and sometimes you must shove it out of the nest as soon as possible. It’s just whatever it is that day!
Both are valuable processes
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
That’s all Jason! But I do give solid notes. (Laughs)
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I do not experience this, I just see creating as an infinite timeline
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Music is active meditation and it’s communal. When we perform live we create a vortex with the audience. It’s a beautiful and important thing.
When people listen to records or stream them, they feel things and create personal relationships with the music.
To me music is one of the most important things there is in the world. It can change minds and hearts and heal or distrupt, it can make moods and emotions and fill us up. It encourages rest or sleep or dancing and pounding the ground.