We find Drew Love on vocals, and Dante Jones behind production, in a musical journey of love to losing focus. With impressive features from Tinashe, Wale and Juicy Jay, the album captures a relatable journey of a relationship, while also touching on pivotal social issues.
Novar: Who is Amanda?
Dante: It’s a composite Amanda. I’ve been with my girl for a long time, her name is Amanda. Drew started dating a girl named Amanda. Even our engineer was dating a girl named Amanda, and they all went by Mandy, and it was hella confusing.
Novar: Did you ever all hang out together?
Dante: Only two of them have met. My Amanda, and Drew’s Amanda. They were cool. But Drew’s Amanda’s not around anymore. There’s only one Amanda still standing.
Novar: How are you feeling since the release?
Dante: It feels good. You know, we’ve been chipping away at it for a few years. I’m just happy it’s out and that people are loving it.
Novar: Does it feel like the most important THEY. project so far?
Dante: Yeah, for sure. I’m big on legacy and following artist’s careers. That second album is crucial. My mum said something to me. She’s like, “Normally the first album is the best. The only artist I ever saw, that their second album was definitively bigger and better, was Michael Jackson.” That sentiment has always stuck with me.
Novar: Does love or heartbreak make the best music?
They say love and hate are similar emotions. They’re operating in the same part of your brain. I feel like as long as you’re pulling from one or the other, you’ve got something to pull from. For me, probably love, because I’ve been in a long term relationship. But I get angry to.
Novar: You can hear in the project, it develops from a relationship starting and being fun, and then there is the struggle and heartbreak towards the end.
Dante: We wanted to make sure that we were telling a story from top to bottom. All the different stages of relationship. Like you said, it starts off good, but then by the end, you’re going through it, it’s more tumultuous. You’re touching on subjects like depression. When you’re working on a concept you’re like, I hope people get it. So I’m glad that you were able to pick up on the story that we were trying to tell.
Novar: You’ve got some really cool collaborations on there. Who would be a dream to have on the next one?
Dante: I’ve been putting this out in the atmosphere, and I know there’s like a volt of verses, but I grew up a really big Tupac fan. I don’t know who I gotta reach out to, but it would be dope to get one of his acapellas, or even do an EP or something like that, with some of his vocals.
Novar: The ‘On and On’ video and song captures important social issues of the time. How important is it for art to speak on social issues?
Dante: I think it’s very important. But it’s a case by case basis. Not everybody is going to be equipped to have the conversation. I’m fortunate that from day one, the core of what THEY. is about is being different and using your platform for good. One of the first songs we ever dropped was a song called ‘Say When’. We were speaking on police brutality, you know this is four years ago. It’s something that’s important to us. George Floyd’s killing, Breona Taylor. We were out there. We were marching right in the thick of it. So we want to continue to use our platform to call attention to stuff.
Novar: Do you think the recent coverage of Black Lives Matter and these stories has made it more acceptable in the music industry?
Dante: Yes and no. We had a big moment back in June, but with any big swing of a pendulum there’s going to be a response. There’s a lot of people who want to combat that. I’m a big basketball fan. They did a really good job using their platform to bring attention to the issues. But there’s people who shit on that. We’re definitely getting more people on our side, but just as equally stirring up a lot of people who don’t want to talk about that. Who want to deny what’s going on in the world. We’re more than equipped to handle both sides of it. Somebody not liking it isn’t going to stop me.
Novar: How are you feeling about the recent US election?
Dante: I voted for Joe Biden, because I don’t think Trump is a good leader. He’s not somebody I would choose to lead this country. But at the same time, I feel like there’s certain conversations and reasons that people voted for trump, that are important to not sweep under the rug. I think that it’ll be a wakeup call for both sides, because I don’t think there is a clear victor on either side. There’s still issues that we’re gonna have to figure out.
Novar: What is the ultimate goal for THEY.?
Dante: When we dropped our first EP, somebody asked me this. I’m just like, “You know what man, I want to be like U2. I want to fill up a stadium. That’s how big I want to be, that’s aspiration.” I said that four years ago and I still feel the same. I want to be one of the biggest artists out. I think the path we’ve chosen to achieve that, is going to make it a little bit more difficult. Because I think that the foundation of what we do is about being different. It’s about being progressive. It’s about doing something that’s going to stand out from the crowd. That’s more difficult than somebody who’s just making stuff that’s more digestible. It’s the harder path, but it’s the path that we’re on, and we have no plans of slowing down.
The Amanda Tape by THEY. is out now on Avant Garden/Island Records