Words by Lindsey Anderson
Banner photo by Maren Celest
One of many things I love about Ohmme is their ability to stop you in your tracks; they have a sound that moves you to immediately open Shazam or frantically ask the barista what song is playing over the café speakers. Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart hold a tremendous amount of symphonic expertise that routinely produces unforgettable listening experiences.
Their newest release Parts, is for sure something to write home about. A record I can best describe as a truly unpredictable auditory experience, Parts serves up a hearty soundtrack to masterfully underscore the varying moods one may experience throughout the day. The title track has a hypnotic energy to it; I found that when I put this track on, I was able to fully enjoy being still & found immense satisfaction in just ~being~ and wasn’t fixated on accomplishing a task. Another stand out is ‘Icon,’ a bouncy track perfect for a midday dance break to give the eyes and mind a respite from the various screens we sit in front of each day. Parts is truly an enjoyable listen from start to finish and begs to be played again as soon as the closing track comes to an end.
With all of the excitement surrounding the record’s release and a tour underway, Tom Tom is super stoked that we got the chance to chat with Ohmme about Parts, how they manage their time and what they do outside of music.
What did you enjoy about putting together this set of songs for ‘Parts’?
Macie: The two of us have really big picture ideas, and love working in many different mediums and genres of music. The part I loved most was setting parameters and truly challenging ourselves to create a uniform body of work from our various ideas and inspirations. It enabled us to think out of the box because we had to be creative to get around our own rules we had set. We also enjoyed recording in the same room as our drummer, Matt Carroll, because he brought this entirely different energy we hadn’t had before. It brought a different perspective to our music, and helped our songs live outside of our heads.
I’ve been listening to ‘Peach’ on a loop as of late, the percussion on that track is phenomenal. What was inspiration for the drums on that track?
Matt Carroll(drummer for Ohmme): It’s a style I like to call “mud funk”. Mostly inspired by the band Tortoise and trap beats.
The Parts Tour starts this month, what are some of your favorite moments from past Ohmme tours?
Sima: The last tour we were on we camped in Mark Twain State Park. We had some really grand plans of hiking and other fun activities and while sitting by the campfire we noticed a black dot on the door of our tent. We got closer and I took a flash photo of it so we could look at it from a safe distance and it was a BLACK WIDOW SPIDER. IT WAS HUGE. So we all got into the van and stayed in there for the next 2 hours until we felt brave enough to leave. Except Macie. She slept in the van.
Sima, congrats on your 11th year of Postock! What are some lessons you’ve learned while organizing this fest each year?
Sima: Thanks! There’s nothing like bringing a bunch of city kids together to hang out on a farm and be part of a little DIY festival. I’ve learned to celebrate the incredible talent of the people around me and just not worry about making it something it’s not. Sometimes perfection can be really simple, and you just have to make sure that you’re still enjoying yourself.
Macie, you picked up the violin at age 5, what is it about the violin that has kept you committed to it?
Macie: I had a love/hate relationship with the violin for a really long time. It was really hard to keep up a practice schedule for two instruments while making sure one didn’t fall by the wayside. I actually put down the violin for a time after I graduated high school. It wasn’t until I realized I could arrange strings for my friend’s and my records that I picked it back up, and then I started falling in love with it again. When I started exploring improvised music, I truly fell in love with it and I haven’t looked back. I’ve since discovered it’s essentially limitless in the range of sounds and textures it can create, and it feels as though it is an extension of myself.
You both work on many things outside of Ohmme, do you have any tips on time management?
Sima: I am a devotee to google calendar and spreadsheets– being organized calms me down. Also, sometimes I like to leave Chicago, not on tour, but just go hide in another city or a farmhouse so I can to clear a little mental space and get (good) bored.
Macie: I love putting EVERYTHING in my calendar. Even casual friend hangs. I also like to take time to schedule mental space although that opportunity comes few and far between.
What are some things y’all like to do when you’re not making music?
Ohmme: We both love to cook– it’s a procrastination activity for both of us. Go hang out and dance with our friends at the Hungry Brain. Bike around town. Read books. Stretch. Feel like non-music activities are few and far between though so these choice things are really indulged in when we get a chance.
Complete this sentence: Our forthcoming album ‘Parts’ has big [ insert word here] energy.
Ohmme: Our forthcoming album ‘Parts’ has big boi energy.