If you’re ever in a funk and need some music to rejuvenate your soul, look no further than The O’My’s. Hailing from the Windy City, the six-man band has a distinct sound that blends rock, soul, funk and jazz. The O’My’s have worked with many familiar names over the years such as Chance The Rapper, Ab-Soul, Nico Segal and more. In the beginning of February, The O’My’s released their fourth EP, Keeping The Faith, inspired by a recent car accident in which the band’s van tipped over while on tour. On May 8th, The O’My’s came down to The Canopy Club in Urbana, IL along with Zaramela and Woo Park to deliver much-needed good vibes just prior to the start of final exams. Before their set, UPC had the opportunity to speak with lead singer Maceo Haymes. We chopped it up about how the group got together, the making of Keeping The Faith and more.
UPC: Who are The O’My’s and what does everyone play?
Maceo Haymes: The band consists of myself, Nick Hennessy on keys, William Miller on trumpet, Erick Mateo on sax, Barron Golden on drums and Boyang Mataspola on bass.
UPC: How did you all get together? Are you all from Chicago?
MH: Yeah, all of us are from Chicago. We all met in a number of different ways. Nick and the horn players all played together. Actually, Nick and Will have been playing together since they were like in elementary school. They all grew up in jazz programs in the city and played with each other in different combos. Boyang, the bass player, we have the same barber and the barber passed on our shit to him and he fucked with us. And we needed a bass player and eventually he brought on Barron, the drummer. Nick and I knew each other since we were in high school.
UPC: How long have been The O’My’s together for?
MH: Well, Nick and I, who do all the writing and are the bandleaders, have been about seven years in this name. Really as this iteration, the band taking this so seriously, have been together about 3 years.
UPC: Being together for so long, what would you say were your guys’ high and low points in this journey making music together? Was there any sort of bumps on the road?
MH: Tons of bumps on the road. The beginning couple of years were difficult just because we were in that age group where lots of our friends were either just graduating from high school or were about to go off to college. So it was hard to keep a steady band, because lots of our band members moved. That was definitely a difficulty for a long time, and this has been the first sort of, like, full bind from the band. Everyone is down for the cause, and this has been very great so far.
UPC: I remember seeing you doing back-up vocals for Chance at Lollapalooza last year. And now you guys are going to perform at North Coast this year. Was that your first time playing in the festival scene?
MH: No, we played at Lollapalooza back when we were backing The Cool Kids a couple of years ago. But yeah, it was fucking crazy. Perry’s Stage wasn’t like how it is now a couple years back. But those sort of things are really strange, big shows like that or big crowds, because they are less scary than playing small and intimate shows, because [at smaller shows] you can pinpoint everyone’s emotions and everyone can notice any sort of fuck up.
UPC: In four years, you guys have dropped four EPs. What would you say was different in terms of the creative processes and how things were done during those early projects compared to Keeping The Faith?
MH: There have been a couple. For Potty Mouth, the process was we write some songs, play them for a while with the band and then we go to the studio to cut it. For Chicago Style and Humble Masterpiece, the first one we worked with Blended Babies a lot. And so then they introduced their styles as hip-hop producers, where they go in the studio and you build as you go along, as oppose to having a full idea beforehand. That process really drove Chicago Style and most of Humble Masterpiece. For Keeping The Faith, we were trying to find the middle ground between our first process, which was having full-blown ideas, and the experimentation being in the studio.
UPC: I gotta say, your sound is very unique. How would you describe it to someone who’s never listened to you guys before?
MH: Describing it? It’s kind of hard. I guess the best way for me to describe it is, I try to list some of the people that I look up to — I try to aspire to have some of their pieces that I learned from them in my music: Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Parliament, The Flamingos, Ohio Players, R. Kelly, James Brown. Essentially, we’re trying to make the most honest music for us we can make. And what ends up coming out is, you know lots of times when people talk about soul and R&B — lots of that music came out during the 50s, 60s, and 70s — people the way they sort of introduced it was by marketing it as a revival. It was like bringing back some old shit that’s dead. With us, that whole idea is not like mimicking — making characters of the soul music. Soul is alive, it’s so present and it’s not done growing.
UPC: Who would you say is that person who really pushed you to want to pursue creating music?
MH: [The person who] pushed me to write my own music was Cody Chesnutt. He came out with a project in the early 2000s that was created in his home. It was very raw and all done in a 6-track recorder in the 90s. It was very raw but super beautiful. The songs were gorgeous and spoke for themselves. The production was whatever he had in his home. What I took from that project — other than loving the music — was like, holy shit, this dude is fucking incredibly talented and writing beautiful songs. He may not have the squeaky clean shit you get in the studios, but this man who obviously, you can tell, has a lot going on mentally, can write beautiful music in his home. It’s something I can take in my home and enjoy it and learn so much from it. I figured, well shit, if this motherfucker can make a fucking double CD album in his home, then I should be able to do something like that in my home.
UPC: What are some of your favorite venues in Chicago to perform at?
MH: Let’s see. My favorite venues, as far as the big rooms, are The Metro and Thalia Hall. As far as smaller rooms, Schubas always has a great room with great sound. They also got some great mac and cheese. Beyond that, we came up in the Tonic Room. and it’s really been a great place for us, and I’ve seen a lot of bands come out there. They market themselves as the most artist-friendly venue in the city, and it’s very true. I really appreciate them.