Another genre you seem to inherit a lot of inspiration from is grunge music. What made you guys gravitate towards this style, and who are some grunge icons that stand out as inspirations to you?
Dante: Both Drew and I grew up as rock fans. He was more into pop-punk, and I was into grunge and indie rock. Of course, I had a big emo phase as well with bands like Taking Back Sunday. But I don't think there's anything conscious about it. I think I just have never really grasped the concept of a genre, I just hear music for music. I also come from a producing background, so when I think that a song needs an element I add that element despite what genre it is. If it needs guitar, we put in guitar. If it needs R&B harmonies, we put in R&B harmonies. Of course, people are going to have different perspectives on things, but it just takes trying new sounds out; that's something that we've always done.
Drew: We came into this game 2-3 years ago, and Dante and I think we were one of the first to mix grunge and R&B together. Since then a lot of newer artists have kind of hopped on that wave and ran off with it. Not to say that they're stealing or that we created this sound, but I think we were one of the first to do it. I think we were a little ahead of our time in that regard, but I love to see the blend of grunge and R&B is sustaining itself. You see acts like Juice World and Lil Uzi Vert kind of implement that into their sound. I'm glad that this sound is still going.
The term ‘genre' in itself can be a damning thing. You guys may not adhere to one, but on the first impression, someone may categorize you in the ‘alt R&B' with the likes of Majid Jordan and PARTYNEXTDOOR. Do you ever feel as if the concept of genre limits you?
Drew: Sometimes. I mean it can, but it really depends on the approach you take to it. Nowadays, we’re in the age of playlists, where genre is a heavy thing that drives them. In that case, a group like us can be limited in the sense that our music has no rules. One song could be aggressive and upbeat rapping, the next could be a slow jam or a grunge song.
Dante: To piggyback off that, we’re talking about genres like grunge. But I don’t think Kurt Cobain ever tried to make grunge. Genre is not really about the artist, and we’re really not thinking about genre when we’re in the studio. We just do us, and let it fall where it falls.
one of most important things we've learned is to be honest with ourselves and more realistic and relatable throughout our lyrics.
You both come from backgrounds of writing and producing for major acts - Did the freedom of being THEY. – owning your own brand, being the face of your brand and being able to pursue any sound you want almost feel like a breath of fresh air? Or was it nerve-wracking?
Dante: Definitely both [laughs]. There was always a struggle for me as a producer to get artists to buy into my vision. So I think the creation of THEY. was our outlet to do whatever we wanted. Now at the same time, I think being an artist is a whole different game too. There's some many different aspects of it that you have to prepare yourself [for]. And we hold ourselves to high standards as well. When it comes to every aspect, whether it be touring or imager or anything else, there's a lot of work that goes into making it right. So, of course, it's going to be a little nerve-wracking at times, but it's all a part of the bigger vision.
With major label acts, there seems to be specific formulas and techniques used to create hits, and I know you guys have worked with your fair share of them. Is there anything you learned from those songwriting and production days that you implement in THEY.?
Drew: I think it helped us put in our 10,000 hours of when it comes to writing and making songs. When you're working in that community, there's so much output and you have to do things over and over again. I think it gives us a different perspective; as we're always revising and we're always trying to get the best out of ourselves. But I think we learned more of what not to do. At the end of the day, it's your music, and I've seen so many artists come and go because they didn't have an identity. Fortunately for us, that's something we've always had. We've always known what we've wanted to do, and everybody else will just have to follow suit.
Dante: We definitely learned a lot in our time coming up for sure. We're learning stuff every day.