Album of the Week: Dehd, 'Flower Of Devotion'

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DEHD - Flower of Devotion (Fire Talk)
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Your album of the week comes from the Chicago trio, DEHD. On their new studio album, Flower of Devotion, DEHD took the foundation of their DIY approach to music into the studio to create a more sophisticated record that adds to their distinctive post punk sound.

Channeling influences from The Jesus and Mary Chain to Mazzy star, DEHD bring together light melodic progressions, garage rock percussion, and dreamy lyrics to form one of the most compelling indie records of 2020.

In September, Dehd's Emily Kempf joined The Current's David Safar to talk about Flower of Devotion, what it's been like to be not touring in 2020, about about how she got into her other career (operating her tattoo business). Emily's conversation with David is lively and lighthearted -- a perfect warmup to the videos of Dehd performing three songs from the new album.

Interview Excerpt


DAVID SAFAR: Let's talk about the new album, Flower of Devotion. You know, the stories that I read said that you were planning to put this album out earlier, but it was interrupted, like so many people's lives were interrupted, by the pandemic.

EMILY KEMPF: Yeah. Good ol' Panny Demmy. (laughs) We had to delay the release, and obviously, I was like, "Whatever. There's way more important things going on in the world right now." This year is over for band stuff. But it turned out it went really well, being released later, or I don't know if timing had anything to do with it, but everyone's been super nice about the album. And it's received, like, everything that a band could want! (laughs) As far as releasing an album goes, so I've been pleasantly surprised how this year has gone for us career-wise and music-wise. Like, not touring doesn't actually matter, I guess. (chuckles)

DAVID SAFAR: Do you look forward to getting back on the road, though?

EMILY KEMPF: Oh, yeah. I have never been this still in my life! I cannot wait to tour again, and I'm hoping like next summer is when we can actually get back out there.

DAVID SAFAR: So you talked about sitting still. What are you doing to keep yourself busy, now that the album's out, you're not on the road and you're waiting for those next steps.

EMILY KEMPF: Well, I watch a lot of TV, which is not usually what I do! And I draw. I tattoo people when I'm not touring, so I've been tattooing, and basically drawing, like, all the time. Just waiting.

DAVID SAFAR: Awesome. Tell us about that. How'd you get into tattooing?

EMILY KEMPF: I actually got into tattooing kind of on tour. I would just do, like, really rough-around-the-edges, stick-and-pokes with like, sewing needles and random inks -- which I wouldn't suggest doing, if you're listening!

But that's how I started, and just did it, like, me and my friends would trade really sh*tty stick-and-pokes, like, in houses and at parties and stuff, and then it sort of escalated from there, and now I own a shop and I tattoo with a machine, and I have clients and it's more professional than my humble roots! (laughs)

DAVID SAFAR: Do you have a shared band tattoo that you've all gone in on yet?

EMILY KEMPF: Oh, no! We haven't. I don't even know if we've talked about doing that. Yeah. No band tat.

DAVID SAFAR: I'll come up with some ideas for you, and I'll send them your way.

EMILY KEMPF: Great, thank you.

DAVID SAFAR: I absolutely love your new album. We're going to listen to three live performances from it, including the song, "Haha," "Nobody" and "Loner." Talk about the making of this album and sort of the approach that you took for this new one.

EMILY KEMPF: The album in general, we decided we wanted to, like, polish it up a little bit more than our usual, scrappy nature. Not too much, but just, we took a little bit more time in the studio. Meaning, instead of, like, two days, we took like a week to just have a lot of time and buffer zone for making mistakes or experimenting, or just having no pressure on, like, getting it right! And having to get it right in like, an hour.

So I think it shows in the album. It's just a little bit more polished up, but yeah, it was the first time we had fun recording. I hate recording usually, because I feel very trapped. (laughs)

DAVID SAFAR: Really?

EMILY KEMPF: I don't know, I just... I don't know what it is.

DAVID SAFAR: Well, we're going to listen to and watch you perform these songs with your bandmates. Let's roll into this song, "Loner." Can you set this up for us?

EMILY KEMPF: Yeah! "Loner" is one of the singles off the album, and it's, for me, I was writing about just a desire of mine to be, coincidentally, learn how to be alone really well, in solitude, which now we all are learning this year! But yeah, I just wanted to write about a desire to be somebody who didn't need anyone, not that that's like a healthy thing to be, but who wasn't obsessed with relationships or romance, and who could just be like this like cool, like loner type who just like, you know, "I don't need anything."

That's what I was trying to write about. I don't know if I have accomplished that, necessarily, that persona, but yeah, that's what the song's about.

Related Stories

  • Dehd: Virtual Session Dehd are a three-piece band out of Chicago comprising bassist and frontwoman Emily Kempf, guitarist Jason Balla and drummer Eric McGrady. In July, the band released 'Flowers of Devotion,' their third full-length release. Frontwoman Emily Kempf joins The Current's David Safar to talk about the album and to introduce three performances by the full band.

2 Photos

  • Dehd press photo
    Chicago trio Dehd are (left to right) singer/guitarist Jason Balla, drummer Eric McGrady and singer/bassist Emily Kempf. (Alexa Viscius)
  • Dehd press photo
    Chicago trio Dehd are (left to right) singer/bassist Emily Kempf, singer/guitarist Jason Balla and drummer Eric McGrady. (Alexa Viscius)

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