THEY., a duo comprised of Drew Love and Dante Jones, are industrious young talents that navigated the industry channels of L.A. to come together to produce inventive and genre-bending music from a soulful, deeply-felt place. All of that makes THEY. a notable act for Billboard’s Hot 100 Music Festival, scheduled for this August 18th and 19th at Jones Beach Theater on Long Island. The duo typifies the ideal upstarts on the Billboard charts: young, daring, and fearless, but with the pop sensibilities to cut through to a mass audience.
Love is native to Washington, D.C., a town with a rich but fragmented musical history. The city is famous, of course, for go-go music and its various stylistic offshoots, and has also produced a wealth of talent in hip-hop, bluegrass, and jazz, among other genres. Despite being the nation’s capital, relatively few stars have broken through to the mainstream in any urban music genre in recent decades. Love grew up in a household filled with the likes of Parliament-Funkadelic (via his father) and the Motown classics (courtesy of his mother). He was singing and rapping around the house from a young age, and — virtually as soon as he began to put music online — caught the attention of talent scouts, who invited him to come out to L.A.
Jones, the group’s producer, hails from Denver — a major city to be sure, but one that’s consistently overlooked by the entertainment industry. As a child, he was a voracious consumer of popular music; he was an omnivore, devouring everything from Dipset to Nirvana, hinting at his later development into a master synthesist.
The pair met shortly into their stints in L.A., each one chasing a separate dream. Both had already earned brushes with fame: Love was working in sessions with some established stars, and Jones had actually won a Grammy for his contribution to a Kelly Clarkson song. But it was an introduction through a mutual friend that led to the creative and personal spark between the two, which allowed each artist to explore musical ideas he’d been nurturing for years. Initially branding THEY.’s music “Grunge N’ B,” the pair leveraged co-signs from the likes of Timbaland and Bryson Tiller into a platform that might allow them to tilt the axis of urban radio for years to come.
THEY.’s debut album, Nu Religion: Hyena, was released last Feb. to acclaim from industry insiders and music fans across lines of genre and region. Ironically, despite having found one another amidst the fake friends and red tape that are so common to the record industry, their groundswell of support has come about organically, through the endorsements of passionate music fans excited to see which sounds THEY. explore next. Be sure to catch them on Long Island, or risk being left behind when radio bends into their orbit during the years to come.