🎧 Local Music Lowdown: THEM

There’s something invigorating about getting to watch a group of people do what they love. It’s one of the great joys of live music: Watching people share the joy of their craft and absorbing the radiance beaming from the stage is one of the sensations that keeps music fiends coming back for more.

Like *checks notes* every other live performer, THEM has spent the last year and a half finetuning their music and reaching audiences through virtual performances. Now, the group is raring to go and eager to share its proper debut single, “BAD 4 U,” with fans.

We’ve interviewed a number of local musicians for this ongoing series, but few encapsulate just how interconnected and supportive the Seattle music scene is quite like THEM does.

How did THEM form?

Thompson Whitehead: We met through music school because we all took lessons through Mode Music Studios. We all took individual lessons, but they wanted to do a group lesson to teach us how to collaborate. We did a lot of covers, but then we started bringing in individual originals and working on them together. And when quarantine hit, we all stopped taking individual lessons, took the band outside, and started to record some of our songs and write together.

Ellie Vann: Mode Music Studios in West Seattle is a female-owned business that supports local artists who teach there. Grant and Gianni from Naked Giants teach there, as does Eva Walker from The Black Tones — [she was] our band instructor. She kind of formed our band, which is really cool.

Hudson Steere: Playing covers was fun, but once we started playing original music and exploring our sound together, we kind of connected a lot better.

How would you describe your sound?

Maia Schinkel: It’s very pop-y with some rock tones for sure.

Ellie: I would best describe it as like teen pop. It’s similar to what Olivia Rodrigo is making right now with a little bit of Billie Eilish.  We started playing covers from our favorite bands like No Doubt, Neko Case, and Death Cab for Cutie, so we kind of grew from there.

How, if at all, did growing up in Seattle influence your music at all?

Ellie: A lot of it has been having so many local musicians to directly contact [and ask questions] about how they can help us and how we can grow. There are so many amazing Seattle artists who are willing to help young artists like us. We were in a program called More Music at the Moore, we got to play at the Moore Theatre, and we met a ton of artists through that.  That’s a Seattle opportunity that isn’t really anywhere else.

Maia: [Moore Music at the Moore] was so collaborative. The entire thing was just us working with other musicians. And I feel like we not only made great friendships but connections that we’ll have for the rest of our musical careers.

Hudson: The connections that we’ve made with more established older musicians have been so helpful. If we’re struggling with something like recording music or finding venues, it’s been so helpful to have those resources to reach out to. I think Seattle is just a really tight-knit community.

What it’s like to be mentored by the one and only Eva Walker?

Ellie: Eva is so quick to help us with everything. With the song we’re releasing, we’ve been sending her versions of it [during production] and she’s given us the most honest advice ever.

Thompson: She also redirects us to other musicians to help us as well.

Hudson: We would not be anywhere without her.

Can you tell us about some of the music you’ve been writing?

Hudson:  Most of the songs we’ve been writing tie into what our future album is going to be about. They’re mostly all about people and what people do — you know, we’re teenagers and it’s a whirlwind, so we might as well write it down.

Ellie: I think when COVID happened we were finally able to take a moment to process all of the things that we had gone through in the past two years, and a lot of that went into our music.

Hudson: It’s been really fun because the four of us are so close and we know each other so well that when we write a song, we know the backstory about it because we’re all involved in each other’s drama.

What can you tell us about your new single “BAD 4 U”?

Hudson: I wrote the song at the start of quarantine, and I honestly wasn’t going to bring it to the band; it was just gonna be my personal little song. It’s kind of like a conversation between me and Thompson about a boy who I liked, but was not necessarily the best person for me…

Thompson: I knew it all along!

Hudson: It’s a fun back-and-forth song between the two of us. I think it’s very relatable, especially for people our age.

You can stream their new single on Spotify or wherever you listen to music.