They. Talks New Music, Haters, and the Word “Fame”

They. Talks New Music, Haters, and the Word “Fame”

“We want to take those people that hate us and convert them to people that are not afraid to embrace their own individuality.”

“We want to take those people that hate us and convert them to people that are not afraid to embrace their own individuality.”

Photography: Andrew Sokolow

Text: Cara Hessels

In today’s musical landscape, artists often find themselves pressed to define their sound, their vibe, their ‘thing’. Who will people compare you to? What will you be known for? Where is your audience? We tend to put these musicians in boxes in order to better identify with them in our minds.

Enter They., the West Coast duo with a mission beyond the music. Comprised of producer Dante Jones, and singer/songwriter Drew Love, They. is on a journey to re-imagine how we view one’s individuality, while making music that rings true to them. “I feel like people that hate, hate on individuality because they know they’re different within themselves, but they are afraid to embrace that,” says Love. “We want to take those people that hate us and convert them to people that are not afraid to embrace their own individuality.”

It’s that sort of no holds barred self acceptance that bleeds into They.’s music; a sound that can only be described as a funky marriage of r&b, rap, grunge and indie rock. It’s a sound they’ve been referring to as Grunge&B.

After signing to Mind of a Genius Records, which is also home to the likes of Gallant and  Zhu,  They. released their debut EP ‘Nü Religion’ in October 2015 to critical acclaim. Jones and Love quickly went on to collaborate with Zhu and Skrillex for hit song “Working For It”, lending vocals to the track. Before long, the pair started touring with singer Bryson Tiller, and in February 2017 released their debut studio album ‘Nü Religion: Hyena’.

We sat down with the duo one rainy afternoon in SoHo to talk new music, channeling hate into creativity, and what the word “fame” means to them.

So, I saw you guys perform at Panorama Music Festival this summer. It looked like you had a fucking ball up there. What do you do when you’re performing to keep your fans engaged and entertained?

Drew: I think what’s happened is the chemistry has gotten a lot better between us when we are performing. It’s different when you have one person up there versus two. Two people can really feed off of the energy of each other when, and when they’re not in sync, it throws the whole thing off. The fact that we’ve been able to build that kind of chemistry only elevates the energy that we already bring to the stage naturally.

For sure. Do you have a favorite song to perform?

Dante: I really like performing “What You Want”, it’s always a fun one to perform. “Rather Die” is a cool one too, because when we were making the song, there’s this alto part that I couldn’t wait to perform because I knew it was going to have so much energy.

Drew: For me it would have to be “Dante’s Creek” and “Deep End”.

Awesome. Being from LA, how would you say the West Coast has had an effect on your music?

Drew: LA in general has just taught us so much about being artists. Everybody out there wants to be something, everybody out there is really competing at the end of the day. It really taught us to embrace our individuality and to push our messages, and that’s what our new religion is all about: being yourself and believing in yourself. LA, more than anything, has taught us to spread our wings and do our own thing and to be proud of that.

Dante: I grew up in Denver, which is not exactly a music hub, but once I got to LA, I grew another appreciation for west coast music. It got me more into Tupac, The Eagles, even the LA heavy metal scene from back in the day. It’s given me a better understanding of its history.

Remind me how the two of you met.

Drew: I was an aspiring songwriter coming out to LA. Dante had already been in the game a minute on the production side and had a Grammy under his belt. One of the first sessions I ever did, I was with Dante, and I just saw how differently he approached music. He’s very methodical, so when he decided to show me his little secret stash of beats and ideas, it became what THEY. is now.

So, you guys really only came on to the scene two years ago and the come-up has been quick. How have you dealt with this new-found fame and attention?

Drew: I think we both hate the word ‘fame’. We still see ourselves as regular people. I think we’re just two people who had a dream of doing something with our musical talents. We don’t really think anything else would have worked out for us. I’m glad to have met someone like Dante, but as far as dealing with the catapult, I guess you could say we got thrown into the fire. We’ve been learning together at the same time. His first time on stage was my first time on stage, and I think it really helps having someone by your side who didn’t know what they were doing either.

Dante: I think what I really try to do is just stay present. I try to just take each day for what it is, each opportunity for what it is. There’s going to be some things that work out and some that don’t, and if you let that get you off track you may never recover.

Drew: A unique thing about us is we have a growing fan base, but we have a lot of haters. It’s actually something we’ve uncovered a little bit more recently, but in a way it actually motivates our message. I feel like people that hate, hate on individuality because they know they’re different within themselves, but they are afraid to embrace that. The only way they know how to let that out is to put it on everybody else. We want to take those people that hate us and convert them to people that are not afraid to embrace their own individuality.

What’s on your bucket list right now? Musically or personally?

Dante: I’m excited to finish another body of work. I also want to learn how to fight Muay Thai. We’ve been on the road so much the past year I haven’t been able to dedicate the time to it, but I want to be a quick animal.

Drew: I want to perform at Coachella, and I want our music to win a Grammy.

How about a dream collaboration?

Drew: Miguel, for sure. Kendrick Lamar as well. I’ll also say Kanye, because I think Dante would say Kanye.

Dante: For me, I think we could do something really cool with The Weeknd and The Dream.

What can we expect from you guys in the next upcoming months?

Drew: More shows. We’re working on getting better and better live and bringing different things to our live performance, and the next batch of songs will be different than the first.

Want more from THEY.? Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and be on the lookout for new music.

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