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The Sunflower

Local neo-soul band Keo and Them kicks off tour ahead of album release

Keo & Them, a bad based in Wichita, got together in 2018. The band will be releasing their first EP later this Oct. (Photo courtesy of Keo & Them)

A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered at Local Flavor Grill and Tapworks on Wednesday night for Keo and Them. The Wichita-based band, fronted by Keo Fletcher, has been together since 2018 with three releases on streaming services this year.

A blend of neo-soul, hip hop and rock, Keo and Them has gone through a stream of members since their beginning. Fletcher said that this revision was never intentional but that it has had an impact on their music nonetheless.

“As it goes, people grow and grow out of things, and they move on to other parts of their lives,” she said. “When I think about the other versions or iterations of Keo and Them, when we all come together collectively in a project, everyone represents themself in a different way or it comes out differently.”

Yae, a local two-piece band that includes guitarist Matt Clara Bennett of the Cavves

opened the show, followed by rapper Marrice Anthony, the “head chef” of the Cookie Store record label.

Keo and Them’s set included their newest song that was released earlier this month, “Fool Me Once.”

“This track is about me being angry with someone who continually used me and took advantage of my kindness,” she said. “I’m still upset about it but I’m being groovy.”

Fletcher said her confidence in her music has increased throughout the band’s evolution.

“All of my friends saw me before as this person that was reserved and afraid to put myself into the music,” she said. “In the beginning, I didn’t really know that I was sort of the band’s leader. I was just in this band with people. As we’ve gone through different versions on Keo and Them, I’ve been able to take on the leadership role. I’ve been able to express the actual emotion behind each of the songs better nowadays than I used to and dig into what the songs actually mean.”

The band finished their set with “Money Grooves,” which was released in March of this year. Fletcher described the song as an anthem about being broke.

“I was living with a friend of mine who was paying most of the rent ,and I was paying like $40 a month,” she said. “And I was just like, ‘this is rough, this is embarrassing but also I’m pretty happy where I’m at.’”

The band will be releasing their first EP, “This Time Around,” on Oct. 27.

Fletcher said the album has been a work in progress since the start of Keo and Them.

“All these songs represent the person who wrote these songs in 2017, who was going through a lot of mental health and changes in life and learning how to take charge of her life,” she said.

According to Fletcher, one of EP’s tracks, “Anxiety” is about mental health challenges, and another, “Personal” is about fighting with a loved one.

“If you get into an argument with someone you love or care about, we can’t blame it on each other and cause that to ruin our relationship,” she said. “It’s a song about going through mental health and just becoming a person in the world, officially.”

In addition to the release of their first EP, Keo and Them are scheduled to play several shows this month in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, capped off with a Nov. 9 concert at Wave with psych-pop artist Nordista Freeze.

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About the Contributor
Ainsley Smyth
Ainsley Smyth, Reporter
Ainsley Smyth is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. Smyth is a sophomore communications major with an emphasis in journalism and media productions. Her dream job is to travel back in time 30 years and then be a reporter for Rolling Stone. Smyth uses she/her pronouns.

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