Experimental soul duo The O’My’s have worked with a lot of well-known Chicago talent—including Chance the Rapper, Noname, Saba and Nico Segal. This week, they play at Great Scott, along with fellow Chicago artist KAINA. We had a chance to chat with Maceo Haymes and Nick Hennessey before their show:

KB: I’ve read a bit about how the band came to be already, but can you also tell me a bit about your personal musical careers? What were your first music performances and opportunities to learn how to play music?

Maceo: I started off playing Latin percussion (congas, timbales etc.) I’m middle school I started making hiphop beats and playing some guitar. I found my singing voice by accident in high school. An upperclassmen I was making music with made me sing background vocals for high school assembly performance. From there I spent a lot of time in my basement experimenting with my voice and writing songs.

KB: Can you please share the story behind “Space Bounce”? What’s the song about?

Maceo: I wrote space bounce with poet Malcolm London. It’s about a romantic relationship that went sour.

KB: I love the haziness in songs like “Don’t Know Better”—can you tell me about how you achieve such a warm sound?

O’M: “Don’t Know” was started at our old home studio. Some our most genuine and intimate recordings start off as demos from there. I feel like the closer to the feeling initially captured in demos the more powerful and honest the recording.

KB: If your music was a room, what would it look like? What would it be decorated with?

O’M: It would be outside.

KB: Does “Mood” share a guitar riff with “Baskets” or am I mishearing that?

O’M: Yes! You caught it. “Mood” was initially a demo that morphed into “Baskets.” Though it didn’t make the cut for Tomorrow it was one our favorite pieces of music we’ve created and felt like we need to share it with the world.

KB: Fellow Chicago artist KAINA is performing with you at Great Scott this week. Is there anything you’d like to share about her? How did you decide to have her join your tour?

O’M: Kaina is one of our dearest friends. Her new album is incredible. She is one of the most genuine and creative people I know. We’ve know here since she was a teenager and it’s been amazing to watch her grow as an artist and woman. Touring with her was a no brainer. We’ve never hit the road with a fellow Chicago artist. It’s great traveling and rocking shows with family.

KB: During an interview at Wild Prairie record store, you talk about how Above Ground sprawls all over the place. How’d you decide which songs would land on the EP, and the order in which you placed them?

O’M: When we were putting together the EP we sifted through a bunch of songs from all over the genre spectrum. Initially we struggled with trying to make them fit into a particular box. Eventually we chose to say fuck that and go with the songs that moved us the most regardless of their particular style. The order took a lot of back and forth.

KB: Can I hear more about the decision to include the phone call recording in “Walkout”?

Maceo: Walkout is a love song to music. For me it was only right to include my grandmother, who was the first person I ever really heard sing in person. She showed me that music was something that you keep in your daily life. It brings comfort, strength, love and togetherness. I asked her to tell me about her first experiences with singing and it’s role in her family life.

KB: Please describe your music without using genre names.

O’M: Intimate. Smokey. Soulful.

KB: Who was the illustrator behind the Tomorrow album art?

O’M: The artist who did the front cover is Chuck Walker. He let us dig through decades of his oil paintings and sketches and we kept coming back to the sketch of the silhouette on a roof.

KB: Can you tell me more about the story behind the Above Ground album art as well?

Nick: Last summer I found my mom’s old 35mm point and shoot camera and started taking tons of photos. I was flying into Chicago and had a perfect view so I grabbed the shot. When it came time to figure out art for the EP we had a gang of photos from that camera and aerial photo of Chicago felt like the perfect fit.

Catch The O’My’s perform at Great Scott this Friday, July 26th

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