Photo Credit: Kennedy Cottrell
It all started as a cover with Haley Blomquist and Bridget Stiebris, and soon enough these two were musically inseparable, and eventually OK Cool. We talked about how they came to be, delivering a queer perspective, and more like their new EP, ‘fawn,’ which drops everyone on April 28th.
Kendra: How did you two come to be OK Cool? Were you both already involved in music before meeting?
Haley: I actually scouted Bridget to join a cover band I was a part of in 2017. It was an all-girl group, so I was going through “Chicago musicians” pages looking for any and every girl musician. She had Twenty One Pilots in her cover photo (it was 2017, remember) and I was really into them at the time, so I was excited to reach out and that was where it kicked off. From there, Bridget invited me to be in another project she was in at the time, and after that, we started writing as a duo (OK Cool) around 2020.
Kendra: You’ve noted how much you enjoy and relish in recording with one another because of how in sync you two are. Where do you think that musical bond stems from? Was it sort of instant or did you have a learning curve in working together?
Haley: When Bridget joined the cover band we were in, she was on drums and I was on bass. I think we connected very quickly as the rhythm section and we also had a lot of similar interests that made us fast friends.
Bridget: We also gravitated towards the same kinds of music and shared the same kinds of ideas in songwriting/practicing in our previous bands. We also really liked sharing new music discoveries, which I think can be so rewarding.
Kendra: Let’s talk about the April release, ‘fawn.’ Anyone who has read or listened to anything I’ve done since 2009 knows all too well that coming-of-age is my favorite genre of entertainment, so with that being one of the foundations of the record – I am sold. I gotta say though, as much as I love the genre, it lacks representation. We’ve seen enough straight white teens from the suburbs. So I’ve been thrilled to see more and more inclusion in the genre, and ‘fawn’ is adding to that with a queer perspective. With that, if Hollywood were going to make a movie based around ‘fawn,’ who would you want in the leading roles?
Haley: Maybe if Brie Larson had bangs she could play a better-looking version of me? Or like Michael Cera if it’s more of an abstract movie.
Bridget: That is so kind of you to say! I’ve been told I look like Laura Dern but I don’t think the age gap there would serve me too well.
Kendra: On the flip side, ‘fawn’ doesn’t shy away from mental health and things like depression. That is something I sadly think is more and more universal than it should be because well, life has a way of taking a toll on us. Has writing about your feelings and creating art from them been a sort of therapy for you over the years?
Haley: For me, writing can sometimes be cathartic, but other times it just feels like directly documenting how you feel. I think playing live always feels more therapeutic for me.
Bridget: Definitely. I pretty much only am able to write when I need to process something emotionally troubling me. If I just try to make myself write when nothing’s going on, I just end up hating what I make most of the time. It’s such a double-edged sword, because it’s the best feeling to write a song you actually like, but most of the time I end up just throwing 3-4 hours of work in the trash.
Kendra: There are plans to drop a couple more singles before the EP, but right now we have “normal c.” It reminded me of the mid-90s and for some reason, it felt like the song that’d play over a home movie on VHS. When this song first came to mind, were you thinking of that decade and its influences at all?
Bridget: That’s so cool! I think the music video really lends itself to that vibe. I wasn’t consciously trying to capture any specific genre or influence with that one. It just started with the intro riff and I tried to follow that and see where it went. There’s something super pleasing about looping that one simple riff on itself while singing about the monotony of everyday life – I like when the music and lyrics have a connecting idea like that.
Kendra: The EP drops at the end of April and not too long after you two will be playing a hometown release show at Schubas Tavern. When you play at home, do you often feel like it’s less of a show and more of a celebration of sorts?
Haley: My favorite, and most of, our shows are at home in Chicago. It definitely has a different feel than playing somewhere less familiar in that we know a lot of the people who show up for us. So, in that way, it feels like a big group hang-out.
Kendra: Time for a side note – So Easter is my favorite holiday. Don’t ask me what the holiday is actually about because it’s only my favorite because I love Spring and the candy is top-notch. With that, if you were to receive an Easter basket, what sweet treat and album on vinyl would you hope was in said basket?
Haley: I am a big fan of Cadbury Eggs and Starburst Jellybeans. For vinyl- I’d want ‘Birdie’ by Slaughter Beach, Dog, or ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’ by Courtney Barnett. I feel like sweet, folky albums really lend themselves to vinyl.
Bridget: Reese’s eggs are god-tier candy. I agree with Haley here, I would love to have a Big Thief record on vinyl – either ‘Masterpiece’ or ‘Capacity.’
Kendra: Lastly, with fawn’ out on April 28th and an EP release show already booked, what else can people expect as we continue into Spring and soon into Summer?
Haley: We have more music videos on the horizon that we’re very excited about. Also, some fun summer plans that I don’t think I’m allowed to say just yet.
Bridget: Not sure when we’re announcing our summer plans, but I’m super excited about them – keep an eye on our socials so ya don’t miss it!