Los Angeles-based duo THEY. defy easy categorization with a deft blend of R&B, hip-hop, rock, and pop spawned by such varied influences as Nirvana, New Edition, Ed Sheeran, Taking Back Sunday, and James Brown. Blurring the genre lines, the pair first made waves with their contribution to Zhu's 2015 Genesis Series track "Working for It," which also featured Skrillex. Much like that song's mixture of sounds, their own music aimed to surprise and manipulate expectations.
THEY. were formed by Denver producer Dante and Washington, D.C. producer/vocalist Drew Love. They both arrived in Los Angeles separately, choosing different songwriting paths: while Drew wrote for R&B singers like Chris Brown and Jeremih, Dante lent his talents to artists like will.i.am and Kelly Clarkson, even winning a Grammy for his work on Clarkson's "Mr. Know-It-All." After a chance meeting, Drew and Dante combined their talents and decided to officially form an act. Once the Zhu track built a large online following — racking up millions of streams — they released their debut EP, Nü Religion, in late 2015. The three-song effort featured heavy guitar effects, atmospheric production, and a combination of woozy singing and rapping, like the Weeknd, the-Dream, and Mind of a Genius labelmate Gallant.
In 2016 they released "Say When," a biting indictment of police brutality against black Americans that layered jagged guitar and Drew's gritty rapping. The ominous "Deep End" followed months later as THEY. were in the midst of a world tour with Bryson Tiller. These tracks would appear on their debut full-length, Nü Religion: HYENA, which arrived in early 2017. THEY. returned the following year with the singles "Thrive," "Ain't the Same," and "What I Know Now," featuring Wiz Khalifa. ~ Neil Z. Yeung