– Sonntagnachmittagskonzert –
Love is everyday magic. That’s the impression you get listening to Water, the new album by Chicago trio Dehd. Love rises up into the atmosphere like steam off a summer sidewalk and makes you wild. Love breaks your heart and you consider yourself lucky for it. Like water itself, it surrounds us, it supports us; it’s what we’re made of. It takes the shape of its container.
That’s something Jason Balla, Emily Kempf, and Eric McGrady
discovered quickly after forming Dehd in 2014. Balla and Kempf are both
veterans of Chicago’s increasingly fruitful DIY scene (Balla with Ne-Hi
and Earring, Kempf with Vail and formerly with Lala Lala). When they
joined forces with first-time drummer Eric McGrady, they discovered they
shared a strange and inexplicable chemistry. The music they make — hazy
and reverb-drenched, a scuzzy and hyped-up take on surf rock that could
only come from the Third Coast — came so intuitively, it made all three
feel like they were stewards of something bigger than themselves, even
while that very thing is unmistakably drawn from their own
personalities. “There’s always been this easy grace about the band
because we purely just love doing it,” Balla says of their immediate
That easy relatability was tested around the time they began working
on Water in August 2017, when Balla and Kempf, who had been dating since
the band’s inception, went through an agonizing breakup.
“Realistically, when you have a breakup, you want to isolate yourself
and cut yourself off from one another,” Balla says. Instead, Dehd went
on tour. The time in the van did them good, forcing each of them to come
to terms with the way they felt about one another — and about the band.