All Bands on Deck: Meet Dehd

photo of the band dehd
Photo courtesy of Preston Valles
“All Bands on Deck” is a regular column by Opinion Editor Amanda Niess.

It’s blue skies from here on out. This trio’s album hints at feelings of optimism and bright futures for themselves and those who care to listen. 

Meet Dehd. 

The trio performed at Boise’s first Flipside Fest in September as a part of their tour. 

Consisting of guitarist and vocalists Emily Kempf and Jason Balla, along with drummer Eric McGrady, the group came together about six years ago to kickstart their music careers as the band we have now come to know as Dehd. 

Kempf and McGrady are both from Georgia while Balla is from the suburbs of Chicago. 

Chicago’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) music scene embraces collaboration and doing everything yourself to celebrate an artist’s autonomy in a competitive environment. In other words, this scene allows artists to express themselves and come together in nonconformity. 

“I guess we all met kind of randomly through the DIY scene,” Balla said. “Emily’s band was on tour from Atlanta, and Eric was in charge of guarding any beer that was at any DIY party. So it was just natural, falling into each other and then we all started playing music and then kind of just been doing it ever since.”

“Mess music” is how Balla would describe their unique sound. Kempf described the band’s sound as intuitive and earnest. 

photo of the band dehd
[Dehd performs at Flipside Fest in Garden City, Idaho.]
Photo courtesy of Preston Valles

Dehd’s most recent album, “Blue Skies,” was released on May 27, 2022. Despite their morbid take on a band name, this album reflects the trio’s sense of a new hope for anyone involved in the music production and the receiving process.

“For me, it’s kind of just holding on to optimism that things change and that there’s always something ahead to maybe look forward to or at least a reprieve,” Balla said.

The band also released a single, “Eggshells,” on Sept. 13, 2022. For the band, they felt that this song did not fit into the theme of “Blue Skies,” but knew it was an appropriate fit for their genre of mess music. 

“It was just one of the songs that we really liked, but it didn’t exactly fit with the other songs and the story we were telling,” Balla said. “So I think it was an opportunity to put it into the world, but not as a part of the Blue Skies narrative.”

Similar to many bands, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the members of Dehd hard and left a confusing impression on them when they returned to performing live after social restrictions were lifted. The pandemic allowed for Balla and Kempf to work on themselves and take time to decompress, but it left them feeling somewhat lost when it came time to return to the stage. 

“As to what home was to me, it was usually being on the road so being at home in a still place was cool,” Kempf said. “And now I’m struggling with the balance of being back on the road, but I also like home now.”

Returning to live performances has felt normal for the band, for the most part, but finding the balance between home and away appears to be the most challenging part.

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