Dehd’s Songs That Remind Them How It Feels to Make Songs with Dehd

Jason Balla shares thirteen tracks that served as inspiration on the trio’s latest LP, Flower of Devotion.

Dehd have mastered the Wilsonian art of mashing up summery beach vibes with overcast lyrics, sounding like a tatted-up (and decidedly less West Coast–fixated) reinvention of The Beach Boys for the present day. Their new LP Flower of Devotion is a continuation of the sparse surf-rock of 2019’s breakthrough Water, amped up in parts for dramatic effect, such as the new wave–citing early single “Letter.”

While the new record sounds wholly Dehd even in its most experimental moments, it took a bit of inspiration to keep the project on course. For co-singer/songwriter Jason Balla, certain songs inspired him and his band (other co-singer/songwriter Emily Kempf and drummer Eric McGrady) to steer the ship in the direction that wound up being Flower. To get an idea of what he was listening to in order to stay on course, we asked him to throw together a playlist.

“These songs have been both inspirational and instructional in my understanding of production and in the making of our new record,” he shares. “Sprinkled throughout are songs that were playing in our Prius while touring before and in between recording sessions. And a couple of these tracks I just love and think they capture something that reminds me of how it feels to make music with Dehd.”

Stream the playlist below. Flower of Devotion drops this Friday, July 17, via Fire Talk.

Purple Mountains, “All My Happiness Is Gone”

This song came out while we were driving to meet up with Together Pangea and Vundabar for a summer tour. I remember crying during the chorus, and once the song ended I immediately hit replay. There’s a magic to the rhythm of this song and the synth is so optimistically defeated.

Protomartyr, “Jumbo’s” 

I was lucky to spend some time with Protomartyr on tour in December and saw this one live a bunch. It’s electric! One of Protomartyr’s secrets is their attention to arrangement. With only three instruments they create such dynamics through subtle changes and knowing when to pull back or give it hell. Joe has an economy with words that gets straight to the point and makes you feel it in your gut.

Cate Le Bon, “Daylight Matters”

The coolest of cool. Cate Le Bon’s whole recording aesthetic rules. I love everything she’s done and produced. She has such an ear for tone and creates these moments in a song that make me play them over and over again. I mean come on, the cymbal overdubs on this track!

Choker, “Lucky”

“Lucky” is such a trip to listen to. It starts out one way and then defies expectation the rest. The vocals and their layering on this track are lush and intricate and make a really beautiful space to go for four minutes.

Tim Presley, “Phone”

I don’t really know how he does it, but damn he does. Love the sampled vocals in the end there. Like, what?

Beat Happening, “The This Many Boyfriends Club”

I’ve always been drawn to this one for it’s spirit. It’s a total mess of feedback and screams from the crowd, but over it all is pure vocal melody. It’s like an old drinking song or chant, almost like it’s of a different time. It’s also just so damn sassy.

My Bloody Valentine, “Soft as Snow”

I heard this song for the first time on Dehd’s tour echoing around an empty venue. I was so impressed by the way it kind of made me dizzy. More wobble guitars please!

Broadcast, “America’s Boy”

I feel like every playlist we make has Broadcast on it. This band was on my mind a lot while we were in the studio. There’s something in the way of the grit and grime that is so cool and full of emotion.

Cocteau Twins, “Lorelei”

I feel like I’m swimming through this song when I listen to it. The way everything blends together is so natural and combines the electronic worlds with the organic in a really cool way.

Sam Wilkes, “Descending”

With this one we keep on swimming, but here it’s all about the simplicity of the groove and the expressions of the synth. Then the vocals come in and it’s so simple it’s perfect. I could literally listen to this groove go to infinity.

Miles Davis, “One and One”

The hi hat overdubs blew my mind the first time I really heard this one. Listening to this whole album really inspired me to explore with textures. We spent a lot of time messing around with extra rhythmic patterns with the drum machine and percussive instruments to give extra shape to the record and to complement Eric’s drumming.

Tyvek, “Wayne County Roads”

I saw Tyvek play in Detroit the day after Christmas, right before we started really working on the record. The energy on the stage and in the crowd was equally wild. It’s really hard to capture this kinda energy in a recording, but yup, Tyvek did it.

The Velvet Underground, “After Hours”

This one feels so timeless and is a great example of what can happen when you put the vocals front and center. I think we struggled a lot with where to put the vocals in the past, and on this [record] I think we were more confident in how we sounded and what we had to say. Also the sudden reverb that catches her voice on the word “Hellooooo” is such a mood.


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