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Get To Know: OHMME


"It’s really exciting because I feel like we’ve both been producing a lot of work in the last few years, and we’ve been working a lot on music, but there’s nothing that’s been out tangibly. It’s very satisfying to have something coming out that feels representative to us and where we’re at in our lives," Macie Stewart says about OHMME's debut album, Parts, which is out today via Joyful Noise Recordings. Since 2014, Stewart and her counterpart Sima Cunningham have endeavored to create a new sound together, following their years of experience playing music that fell into different sonic territory. 

While the pair continues to split their musical talent into multiple projects, OHMME has remained Stewart and Cunningham's main focus over the past few years, which saw them put out a self-titled EP last year and tour nationally. With so much experience already under their belt, the release of their debut full length marks the beginning of bigger and brighter things on the horizon for OHMME. Ahead of the record release show at Thalia Hall tomorrow, tune into Parts and dive into these six facts I learned while chatting with Stewart and Cunningham earlier this month. 

They're Both Classically Trained Musicians

If you live in Chicago and haven't seen Stewart and Cunningham perform as OHMME, chances are you've probably still seen them on the stage. Whether they're singing backup vocals for Twin Peaks, performing in the strings section at Whitney's show, or collaborating with Chance The Rapper, there's no shortage of ways to see the duo putting their musical talent to use throughout the city. Both Stewart and Cunningham are classically trained musicians and wear multiple hats in the music scene, experimenting with different genres, but they still recall their early days of first getting into music. 

"I remember going to my mom’s work," Stewart recalled. "Going to pick her up, cause she’s a musician too. She plays piano in restaurants around Chicago. I remember being really little and getting to sit on the piano bench with her and being like this is really fun," she continued. 

"I can kind of remember doing really, really early Suzuki violin, which I did not stay with," Cunningham pondered. Stewart chimes in that she understands that, as a former Suzuki violin teacher herself. Cunningham added, "I think one of my earliest memories was probably my dad would play the Boogie Woogie a lot on the piano and would just kind of like let us bang along or sing along with him on the piano. And do a lot of making up lyrics. A lot of just playing the blues. I think playing the blues with my dad, just singing with him..." 

They're Pros at Time Management

With all of the projects that Stewart and Cunningham have going on outside of OHMME, they don't have much free time to spare, but they're quickly learning how to manage their time. Cunningham credits coffee with keeping them going through their busy schedule, while Stewart says, "That’s a difficult question cause I’m not sure that we’ve exactly figured it out. I think we’re really good at managing our time and when we have an hour free just by ourselves, we’re able to get stuff done that needs to get done. Probably what I’m learning is that I have to schedule time to be free. Instead of scheduling time to do things. I have to schedule time to be productive in that sense. It’s really impossible when your brain is flying through so many thoughts. Not even just working on music, just working in general, just life in general. You gotta make sure that you make time for your own brain space in order to be creative. That’s the thing that I’ve learned over the last year."

For Cunningham, putting one project as the number one priority has helped her manage her overall schedule; "I think in a partnership like we have with OHMME, both of us, kind of a year and a half ago, made the commitment to each other that [this] would be number one. That has made a lot of things easier for me in my life as far as making decisions and figuring that out," she says. 

Their New Material Focuses More on Live Creation

After dedicating their priorities to OHMME, the pair set aside some time last year to knock out writing the album, and they set to work to record it with a loose plan in place. "I think it’s good to create loose perimeters for yourself for whatever you’re doing and then mess with those. That’s kind of a life mantra in general, for whatever you’re doing," Stewart says about their outline for the album work. Tracing back to the beginning of the process a couple of years ago, Cunningham says, "It's kind of interesting... there’s a little bit of a ping pong effect of like where the audience hears the music at because if you were in Chicago, some people might have seen us when we first started playing these songs. Some of the songs were about two years old, some of them are just a year old and we finished them right before we put them on the record. It was just kind of like we had this window and we knew we had to get the record done cause we’re gonna be on the road and we’re both really always busy and always doing stuff. So we had this nice window of time where we knew we had to finish the record," adding that they also didn't want to draw out the process. "We just wanted to put it out, record it and then get to work on making it come out and come to fruition. So a lot of that was bringing ideas to each other and kind of improvising on those ideas." She described plotting out the core of the melodies, harmonies, and arrangements with Stewart before bringing in their live band. 

"Yeah, we kind of had a loose conceptual idea of what we wanted it to be, which was that we wanted it to capture what we sound like live more than the last EP. The EP that we put out was a lot of layering and just me and Sima. Kind of stacking all these things on top of each other. Not necessarily playing at the same time. Doing a lot of overdubs and writing things that way. We wanted this record to be more capturing this moment in time where we’re all playing together in a room, getting the energy of the songs and how they sound when we’re all communicating with each other. So that was kind of like the loose concept of the record," Stewart elaborated. 

Prior to the studio time spent on the album, Cunningham and Stewart played a show at The Hungry Brain to test it in a true live setting. "I feel like playing a live show is worth ten rehearsals. It tells you a lot about the songs that you’re playing and where they’re at and about what works and what doesn’t. So that was really helpful to play a marathon show where we just played every single song. It was like a last minute thing at our favorite bar," Stewart recalled about the show, adding that they did gauge the crowd responses to the album, but they mostly judged their own reactions. 

They're Bookworms

Talking outside subjects that inspired the writing on the album, Cunningham and Stewart credit books as the main medium that influences their writing tactics, but even then it's a faint influence. Stewart recently tweeted about the task of moving her massive book collection, but she says, "For this record, at least for the lyrical content that I created, it was mostly drawing from my introverted experiences in the world and how I am perceiving things around me. A lot of the time, we draw inspiration from books. I think that’s something we have in common. When we’re reading, it kind of sparks all these different ideas and sets us off when we’re writing. For this record specifically, I wouldn’t say that-- I mean I’m always inspired by that cause I’m around it all the time, but far as something that was purposely inspired by that, that wasn't what I contributed."

Cunningham agrees, adding, "Yeah I don’t really know if I can point to anything specific, but I would say that a lot of the lyricism of the album is drawn from thinking about things in a very tactile way, and thinking about little clips, little image clips and kind of trying to dissect them and peel layers back. I’m trying to think of what I’ve been reading a lot over the past year. I’ve been reading a lot of Margaret Atwood and I feel like I always love the way that she describes scenes. Parts of the album I think are very landscape-like."

Sheryl Crow, Sigur Ros, and Sofia Jernberg are all on Their Collaboration Bucket List

While they may not rely on other art forms as inspiration, the pair says they are inspired by working with other people. Reflecting on the biggest lessons they've learned, Stewart says, "I’ve definitely learned that I love collaboration. That’s my most ideal method of creating, is in a collaborative environment with someone. I’ve also learned that I need to get out of my comfort zone in order to get something that’s actually viable or that’s actually interesting. We recorded this record in Sima’s basement studio that she has, and it was really great. We recorded the first project there too so it was nice to record there because we knew how it worked there. It was also a different method of recording than we’re used to with this band... On the other hand it was like now that we’ve recorded this record there, I think for whatever happens next we need to get into a new environment to really push forward and make something that’s not the same that we’ve been through."

As far as their dream collaborations they'd like to be a part of in the future, Cunningham says, "I’d love to work with David Byrne, I think that’d be super fun. He just did that whole project that was really cool except that there were no women on it. His live show also looked really incredible. I just feel like he’s very much into putting on large performances."

Stewart adds, "I personally love Deerhoof a lot. They’re an awesome band, and I know that they also dabble in the free improvisational scene. We’re also label mates with them," before excitedly throwing in, "I wanna work with Yoko Ono!" A Le Tigre song came on in the a cafe where I'd met up with Stewart and Cunningham and both agree they'd love to collaborate with that band, while the latter also adds, "There’s a singer and composer named Sofia Jernberg who is in Norway. I’d love to collaborate with her sometime." 

It's clear that the duo really does love collaborating and experimenting with other genres because they also mention Sheryl Crow ("St. Vincent just collaborated with Sheryl Crow!") and Sigur Rós as artists they'd love to work with before changing subjects.

Their Favorite Artists are Also Multi-taskers 

As demonstrated by their endless involvement in the Chicago music scene and their massive nation-wide tour coming up after the release of Parts, it's obvious that Stewart and Cunningham are no strangers of multi-tasking, but as it turns out, many of the local artists that inspire them are also jacks-of-all-trades.

"I really admire Ken Vandermark actually. He’s someone who is in a bunch of different projects and is constantly doing a million things but he’s able to make things that are different from each other and still remain interesting and new. That’s someone that I look to for inspiration to keep moving forward," Stewart says. 

"We have a lot of amazing friends around us. Our friend Alex Grelle...he’s a really talented theater performer and has been doing these amazing variety shows that I think influenced us but also everyone in our very close proximity into falling back in love with the idea of true performance," Cunningham added. 

The pair has no trouble listing plenty of other local artists with work ethics that they admire, like Crystal Zapata and Maren Celest, who both assisted with their album art. Talking about the latter, Stewart says, "She shot our album cover but she’s also a musician and just released her own record. She does stuff with Manual Cinema, which is this amazing theatre, shadow puppet, multi-disciplinary company in Chicago. She works with them and she used to have a vintage shop in Chicago and she was doing all these things at the same time. But doing them all really well, it’s not even like she was just putting limited attention towards everything. She’s definitely an inspiration cause her work is always so unique and inspired. She’s constantly working and just trying to figure out new ways to do things." Zapata, who did the design of their record, works with The Normal Studio and creates other art. 

"There’s a lot of inspiring people in Chicago. I feel like it’s an endless list, which is why we stay here," Stewart wrapped up the topic. While the two love Chicago and find infinite inspiration here, Cunningham mentioned they'd love to do residencies outside of the city. "Both of us are really craving to go do residencies in places. When we’re in Chicago, it’s hard for us to not be working all the time. I mean, whether it’s on OHMME or just music, it’s very exciting cause our lives are full of music and we’re busy, but in Chicago it feels like every minute of our time gets swallowed up sometimes. So I think giving ourselves an opportunity to go spend time away and just be with our own creativity, cause it can be hard to set time aside for it."

OHMME will begin their biggest tour yet this weekend, kicking things off with a hometown show at Thalia Hall with V.V. Lightbody and The Hecks-- get tickets here, and check out the rest of their tour dates here (They'll be playing in Vancouver for the first time, making their first non-SXSW appearance in Austin, and performing at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.)

To get ready for the show tomorrow, listen to Parts in full below.

Follow OHMME on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook

Catching Up With In Tall Buildings

On Day 2 of Daytrotter Downs, the Chicago-based group In Tall Buildings played a beautiful afternoon set. Afterwards, the man behind In Tall Buildings, Erik Hall, sat down with me to talk about what he's been up to since the release of his second album Driver, which he released in 2015. We chatted about what's next for 2017 as far as music and tour, working with other bands, Chicago venues, the art of recording and producing your own music, and more. Here are 7 things I learned from catching up with In Tall Buildings...

Photo Credit: Caleb Condit

Photo Credit: Caleb Condit

He Has A New Album Coming Soon

During In Tall Buildings' Saturday afternoon set at Daytrotter Downs, Erik mentioned that they were trying out some new songs during the set, which was only their second time trying them out live. "[Tomorrow Never Knows] was the first time I played a couple of those new ones. Tonight we kind of brushed them off and tried them again," Erik revealed when I asked about the new material.  "There’s a new album that’s practically done. It will be coming out, later this year," he continued. 

Along with the album, we can also expect a tour from In Tall Buildings. "We'll certainly do some playing once this record is out. I'd like to do some dates in the Fall, and then maybe let the record exist for a while. Maybe go out again in the Spring next year. Nothing’s on the calendar, but we’ll definitely do some touring," Erik says. Since In Tall Buildings has never played on the West Coast, Erik also mentions one of their goals for the new album is to make it out there. 

The new album was recorded at his home studio, as usual, but there's one thing that's different...

For Erik's previous two records as In Tall Buildings, In Tall Buildings and Driver, he recorded them at his home studio as the artist, engineer, and producer.  For his third album, he enlisted in the help of another Chicago-based producer. "The main difference is that with this album I’m working with a producer. He’s been working with me at my place, at my home studio. This record includes his input. In terms of just kind of getting the songs to the finish line, and shaping the sounds...and also just the kind of honing the song themselves, the song craft," Erik says. 

Elaborating on his righthand man for this record, Erik says, "His name is Brian Deck. He’s in Chicago as well. He’s worked with Modest Mouse, Califone, and Iron and Wine a bunch. So it’s been really cool, it’s been really fun, and just kind of a load off to have somebody else make some of the decisions." 

The songwriting style of "Album 3" is a departure for Erik, but not a drastic one

"There’s not any drastic change in where I’m driving influence for my songs. It’s just the main change with this new record is I'm trying to really reduce the amount of time between when I start writing a new song and when I finish that new song. So, not letting myself sit for so long with a song in progress. And just really trying to act on impulses, and not be so utterly precious with every single decision that needs to be made. It’s kind of a serious leap to take," Erik says.

Although it's been a big leap, Erik says he thinks it worked out well. Continuing on that subject, he says, "I’m psyched about the record... I can't wait for people to hear it. I think it sounds different from Driver. I don’t know if people will necessarily think that it’s such a departure, but for me it is."

Balancing his time between In Tall Buildings and his other projects has been surprisingly easy

Erik is involved in a few other bands, but the main one he works with is Wild Belle, who are also from Chicago. Despite touring with Wild Belle, Erik was able to complete the next In Tall Buildings album fairly easily. "It’s actually amazing how well it works to have both projects...that are so different and that take such different energy on my part. I’ve made my last two records now while also being on and off the road with Wild Belle. I think if I didn’t have those tour dates creating structure in my schedule, I don’t know if I would have gotten a record done," he says.

Erik continues on to say he's found a really great match with Wild Belle, adding, "Luckily there haven’t been a whole lot of times where there’s actually a conflict of schedule. They, being my best friends, and Quinn, who’s in both bands with me... it’s just so easy to coexist."

He also says he'll be heading out to Austin with Wild Belle to play one show as Wild Belle, so if you're heading down there as well, make sure you check it out!

He's out of the loop with Chicago bands, but he's a pro when it comes to Chicago venues

When I asked Erik if he had any new favorite local bands, it kind of stumped him. "I’m so out of the loop with Chicago bands. The amount of bands that are here [at Daytrotter Downs] that are from Chicago that I’m discovering is just staggering. I don’t think I’m the best person to answer that question. Part of it is that I’m just blanking, but honestly a big part of it is that I just am kind of a hermit when I’m in town. When I’m home, I just don’t pay enough attention of what’s going on around me. I stay home a lot. My wife and I just love our home life," he says. Given the fact that he's been working on a new record between touring with another band, we'll let him off the hook.

When talking about Tomorrow Never Knows, Erik mentioned that he loves playing Lincoln Hall and Schubas. "I love them both. Love The Hideout. Those are all rooms where I feel very much at home. The Metro lately has been so fantastic to play with Wild Belle. We just played at the Aragon [Ballroom] with Wild Belle. We opened for Band of Horses. That was a venue that I grew up going to shows. I was remembering while we were there that I saw Metallica with my brother. Then practically the next time I went there was to play there. So It was kind of surreal," he continued. 

Between all of his bands and projects, Erik has played such a variety of venues around the city, so he was able to shout out some of the smaller venues in town, as well. "I also just love some of these smaller stages in town that we’ve really made quite a home at. I don’t know if you know, The Whistler has a record a label and they put out my first album. Absolutely love playing The Whistler. It’s just such a good, cool space and such good vibes. Billy, the owner, is a good friend and I just love what they’ve done. Also Quinn, Elliot [Bergman], and I have another group called Metal Tongues, that’s more of an experimental, instrumental, kind of psych, noise, jazz. It’s hard to describe. But we’ve been playing a lot lately at the California Clipper. Which is fantastic. It’s super warm and kind of dim, and the cocktails are great. The stage is in the corner and it’s nicely elevated. It’s just this really cool kind of old school place," he says. 

Producing his own work can get difficult, but luckily he has a mentor

As mentioned, Erik has his own home studio where he records everything for In Tall Buildings. He's been into recording since 13 years old. Talking more about his start with recording, Erik says, "I was given a 4-track cassette recorder by my dad for my birthday. That was the dawn of my love for recording. Just the ability to record one part and then add to it and record more parts, was just the coolest thing to be able to do. Just so exciting and so engaging. It’s kind of a classic tale, but literally that was when it started and I just never stopped. I’ve had a few different systems since then, now of course it’s much more elaborate. But it’s still just contained within my home." 

As for being his own producer when he's also the writer, Erik says it can be difficult, but he's been able to do it by listening to his work in a new light once it's recorded. "I was actually just recently reading this interview with Brian Eno, where he just hits the nail on the head. He says you’re a completely different person as a maker as you are as a listener. And it couldn’t be more true. That’s why in the past, I’ve been very deliberate about getting out of my studio to listen to what I’ve been working on in a different environment. To take some time away from it at times. To listen with fresh ears. It can be very hard to do that all yourself, but I’ve liked doing it myself," he says. 

Erik also says he was able to find a mentor who inspired him as an artist and producer. "Our old band NOMO, we were recorded by a guy named Warren Defever. His band is called His Name is Alive, and he’s been putting out records since 1991 I think. He is a good friend and mentor in terms of audio and recording of all kind. He recorded and produced all of the NOMO records. Between those experiences and being a part of some of the His Name is Alive records, I would say that he’s kind of the biggest influence in terms of learning about recording and kind of how to not only capture the best sound and manipulate it in good ways, but also just running a session. And working with other people, working with bands. He was a big influence."

His advice for getting into making your own music is...

Given the amount of work that Erik has done with a number of different bands, I had to ask if he had any advice for an artist looking into making and recording their own work. "I would say it’s easy to think you need way more stuff than you actually do need. My advice would be...advice that I myself am trying to follow lately, which is to really listen. Actually listen. And not just apply tools that you like that you think sound good that you think you need to apply. Often times something just sounds best completely naturally, just as it has been recorded. And not manipulated. I’m realizing this more and more and it’s so freeing. Because then the work is already done! If it sounds good then the work is done," Erik advised. 

As of now, there's still official word on the release date or title of the third In Tall Buildings record, but make sure to stay up to date on In Tall Buildings Facebook page. While you patiently wait for new music and tour dates, listen to 2015's Driver in full...

A Chat With: Dream Version

           A few weeks ago, we kicked off the New Year with a post about Chicago's annual multi-venue winter festival, Tomorrow Never Knows. The post included Ezra Furman as one of five most anticipated acts at the festival, and while he delivered an outstanding performance, that night of the festival also stood out because of the excellent support acts.  Kicking off that evening, Chicago's own Dream Version completely won over the crowd, setting the bar high for the rest of the night. Dream Version delivered a nonstop set full of positive vibes, sticky, sing-along choruses, and groovy bass lines.  Naturally, we had to get to know more about the band behind a set so great that even Ezra Furman tweeted about them, so we asked them to be the next band in our Chicago feature.  During our chat, lead singer Alec Jensen spilled all the dirt on the band's start, their influences, their plans for 2017, and of course- their Chicago favorites.

ANCHR Magazine: When did you start playing music, and how did you start playing with the rest of the band?

Alec Jensen: I've played in bands since high school.  Ann Arbor, MI, had this great teen music scene based around a venue called The Neutral Zone.  My friends are I were involved in launching the Neutral Zone's label, Youth-Owned Records.  I kept writing music while I moved to Chicago and got my teaching degree. I got a job at an elementary school and met Eric, Michael, and our former bandmate Ned, all of whom were teachers there.  But it never occurred to us to play music together until we went on strike in 2012. We started spending a lot of time together, and when we all realized we had the instruments for a band, I mentioned that I'd demoed an album worth of songs, but didn't know what to do with them.  The songs were all ready to go.  It was very casual, but turned into this beautiful thing.

AM: What's the story behind your name?

AJ: Initially, the idea was when you describe your dreams and say, "I was at school, but it was, like, a dream version of school."  You know the one; it has an infinite number of hallways and doors and you can never find the room your exam is in.  Eventually, I started thinking of it as an idealized version of something, like there's the real version of your boyfriend and the dream version that only exists in your head. Sometimes the real version comes over and you end up feeling disillusioned. I think that interpretation fits the band as it exists today a bit better.

Dream Version is Eric Brummitt, Alec Jensen, Michael Kunik.  Photo by Ellie Pritts 

Dream Version is Eric Brummitt, Alec Jensen, Michael Kunik.  Photo by Ellie Pritts 

AM: Who do you consider your music influences?

AJ: The Beatles and Pavement are so thoroughly ingrained in my DNA that I don't really notice their influence anymore.  When Dream Version recorded our debut album, I was listening to lots of Prince, Fleetwood Mac, and of Montreal, but I doubt much of that comes across.  Our new album's more rough and scrappy.  I tried to avoid thinking about other people's music too much during the process.  I think the Pavement influence will come through.

AM: Can you talk a little bit about the band's writing and recording process? How collaborative is the songwriting typically, and where do you record?

AJ: I usually write the songs and then record a demo to a drum machine. When I get together with Michael and Eric to play the songs, sometimes we play them just like the demo, but sometimes they go through extensive changes.  "Firefighter", the first song on Beginners, went through months and months of revisions and now the demo would be unrecognizable.  A couple of our newer songs are the same way.  We recorded Beginners at Pieholden Suite Sound, but our latest we did at Foxhall Studios in Logan Square.

AM: How was the overall experience playing TNK Fest, and what was your reaction when Ezra Furman tweeted about your band?

AJ: TNK was a real joy for us.  The privilege of just being heard by Ezra Furman's audience was great - they're the kind of people we'd love to discover our band.  Ezra's set really inspired me that night.  The songs never lost momentum, but somehow he found time in each of them to forge this personal connection with the audience.  It was humbling to get attention from him.  Our gut reaction is, "Oh, Ezra, you don't have to say that just to be nice."  But it's definitely brought us some new listeners.

AM: You mentioned that you also teach and try to keep your rock n roll side separate from your teacher side, but do you ever incorporate music into your teaching style?

AJ: Eric is a music teacher for grades K-7.  He gets the kids doing these beautiful choral performances and leads a few a cappella groups.  A few times a year, I reluctantly pick up a guitar and sing with my 8th graders.  It's flattering when the kids show interest in our music, but my response when they bring up the band is usually a deadpan "I don't know what you're talking about."  The last thing I want on my mind when I'm writing a song is, "How would my students respond to this?" That's creative poison.

AM: What will 2017 bring for Dream Version as far as new tunes and tour? 

AJ: Our new album, Fight Fair, is due out in early summer.  We've got big plans for it.  It's leaner, hungrier, and more angry in spirit, but it's still got the melodies and the background vocals people liked on Beginners.  In the spring we'll announce a big summer tour and a release show.  This is gonna be a really meaningful year for us.

AM: Who would be your dream band/artist to work with, either touring or collaborating?

AJ: I'm assuming this doesn't have to be realistic, so I'm gonna say duet with Kate Bush?  More realistically, my high school band opened for of Montreal in 2004 and I'm pretty sure they went out for pizza during our set.  So I'd love to get a second chance at that.

AM: What are some of your favorite fellow Chicago bands?

AJ: I'm in love with Emily Jane Powers, and highly recommend Jellies, Luno, and Richard Album.  We're also big fans of Varsity, In Tall Buidlings, Pool Holograph, and of course, Ezra Furman.

AM: What about favorite Chicago venues?

AJ: It's been unreal playing Lincoln Hall, but we've also really enjoyed playing The Whistler, Subterranean, and Constellation.  Can't forget Cole's, either.  No matter the venue, anything Kickstand Productions puts on has been a great experience for us.

It’s leaner, hungrier, and more angry in spirit, but it’s still got the melodies and the background vocals people liked on Beginners
— Alec on the band's new album

AM: Last question...what was the first concert you ever went to, and what was the last show you went to (that wasn’t your own)?

AJ: My dad took me to see the Beach Boys, minus Brian Wilson, in Detroit around 1995.  Lots of Hawaiian shirts onstage.  I think there was very little Pet Sounds, but plenty of "Kokomo" and that song that was on Full House.  I recently saw In Tall Buildings do their TNK performance at Schuba's, and they're always awesome.  They create dense textures, but within these really clean lines.  I think there's a much bigger audience out there waiting for them.

We'll definitely be looking forward to more details on Dream Version's album and summer tour. To make sure you're in the know on all things Dream Version, keep your eye on their social media. You can also listen to Beginners here

A Chat With: Campdogzz

The Chicago band chat with us prior to their TNK Fest performance.

Chicago is home to some of the greatest bands and musicians around at the moment.  One of our favorite Chicago bands, Campdogzz, will be playing at Schubas Tavern tomorrow as part of Tomorrow Never Knows Festival.  Before their performance as part of the annual multi-venue, 5-day fest, we chatted with Jess Price and Mike Russell of Campdogzz about their start as a band, appearing in a Netflix show, their Chicago favorites, and goals for 2017.  

ANCHR Magazine: How did you all meet and start making music together, and what’s the story behind your name?

Jess Price: Mikey was in a band called Suns out of Chicago. For a couple years, I traveled with them, working on a documentary more or less about independent American touring bands (still working on it).  We became friends in that time and eventually I started showing him demos. He grabbed onto it and helped me get them recorded. From there we decided to make a record together. Mikey chose the name. It made sense with our demeanor and lifestyle at the time...couple of dirtbags hanging around the fire. 

AM: Who are some of your musical influences, either in terms of your sound/songwriting or who inspired you to start making music?

Campdogzz: Jason Molina is a huge one. Really we could scrap that whole answer above and just insert his name in there. He is the reason we started this band.  Early influences were gospel, folk, a lot from the church. Later, [we were] heavily inspired by soundscapes in film.

Photo by  Randy P Martin

Photo by Randy P Martin

AMHow did the opportunity to appear on Netflix’s Easy come up, and how was the experience? 

Campdogzz: After a long tour (our first), we dreaded getting out of the bus, so we decided to go see some parks in SW and travel around for a while with a couple friends. We got an email about the opportunity. A friend had previously shared our record with the person responsible for sourcing the music in Easy.  We flew back for the filming at Sub T in November.  It was great.  The set was relaxed.  It was fun for us to watch them work.  Seemed like a bunch of old friends getting together. Shooting was pretty seamless and fast.  We are very grateful to have been included. 

"The Well" appeared on Season 1, Episode 2 of the Netflix series Easy

AM: What are your favorite Chicago venues?

Campdogzz: Hideout, [Empty] Bottle, Burlington, Whistler, Constellation, Elastic name a few. We are fortunate for great venues here, if nothing else.

We’ve spent a lot of time with these songs and a lot of time with ourselves last year. A lot of personal and collective growth. It will be very fulfilling to actualize them.

AM: Who are some of your favorite fellow Chicago bands and musicians at the moment?

Mike Russell: RIBBONHEAD, Bow&Spear, Melkbelly, Tinkerbelles, Negative Scanner, Paper Mice

Jess Price: Wet Mouth, Gia Margaret, Hydrofoil, Meat Wave, Joan of Arc, Spencer Tweedy (I keep trying to adopt him--he won't respond)

AM: What have you been listening to lately, and what album releases are you looking forward to in 2017?

Mike Russell: The Upsetters Super Ape, Arthur Russell Love is Overtaking Me

Jess PriceA lot of the above, Frank Oceans Blonde, Broadcast, Daniel Bachman, Luzmila Carpio, Talk West. 2017 Releases...Joan of Arc's He's Got The Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands

Campdogzz at Sofar Sounds Chicago 

AM: What are your goals for 2017? Any plans for touring or new music? 

Campdogzz: Our biggest goal is finishing our second record.  We've spent a lot of time with these songs and a lot of time with ourselves last year. A lot of personal and collective growth. It will be very fulfilling to actualize them. We will no doubt be out and about when we have something new to share. As soon as the weather turns, we'll go get our bus and get to work!

Individual tickets for Campdogzz's show with Hoops, Sam Evian, and Big Thief have now sold out, but you can still get your 5 day TNK Fest Pass here.

Stay tuned for our next Chicago band feature on Lucille Furs, coming next week!