The O’My’s Take Their Soulful Sound To A Virtual Stage
Written by Vocalo Radio on July 23, 2020
The O’My’s are a gritty, yet polished duo made up of Maceo Vidal-Haymes and Nick Hennessey whose flavor of soul is much needed in the Strangest Summer Ever.
They’re bringing their full band to an empty Lincoln Hall Thursday, July 23rd at 9pm CST in a show presented by STAGED, a new Audiotree livestream concert series. You can click here for more info on the livestream.
Jill Hopkins spoke with Maceo to learn how the band is adapting their performance style for a virtual audience
Jill Hopkins: Welcome! I must ask, have you all been in the same room? When was the last time the full band was in the same room together?
Maceo Vidal-Haymes: Oh my God. That must have been maybe January. I don’t even know. Nick [Hennessey] and I have been getting together like once or twice a week since COVID and everything to work on stuff in the studio or just hang out. But last week we started rehearsals and it was crazy to play music with the guys. It’s a way different thing playing to a click than actually communicating. It’s been a trip, and I’m still very excited about it.
JH: This is gonna sound flippant as I say it out loud, but did you cry? Because I would cry.
MV: It was like that. At first it was just weird because we, aside from not playing music together, none of us had seen each other or any of our friends that much. So it was the first time that, aside from being at protests, that I had seen any group of people, let alone people that I love and I’ve spent so much time with making music and memories and all that. So it was, it was a lot. We ate and barbecued, enjoyed ourselves and played music.
JH: That’s awesome. I’m happy for for all of you. You’re just a bunch of great dudes and I want the best for all. How do you prepare for something like this as opposed to how you’d prepare for a regular show at Lincoln Hall?
MV: I mean, we had to think a little bit about the set aside from what the songs are, how we wanted to deliver them. We wrote up a set list, but we weren’t really sure how we were going to play it. And I think after the first couple hours of rehearsal, we really just landed on what we wanted: it should feel a little bit more comfortable and intimate. Not in terms of it being stripped down, but I think the way that we want to connect is not going to be full of big bangs and crazy arrangements, but really just letting the songs speak for themselves and letting each of us communicate that and play.
That’s kind of the biggest thing is, you know? Sometimes when you’re playing for an audience you want to build a set that has all these big up and downs and loud hits and stops, and there’s going to be those but we’re not going to get that energy directly back. So we wanted to make sure that we didn’t feel goofy just standing on the stage doing the usual and get left hanging. We wanted to make sure it felt like this was as much for us as for everyone else.
JH: That room in Lincoln Hall really lends itself well to really great intimate performances. But it also lends itself well to keeping everyone safe in these times. How has that experience been just trying to make sure that nobody involved endangers anyone else involved?
MC: It’s been a lot of just communicating and trusting each other, which is all we can do. The folks at Lincoln Hall and Audiotree have been really great in terms of the production of it, making sure that it’s a really safe environment for all of us going in and everyone involved in the production. They’ve been closed rehearsals which is not always the case, usually there’s friends or whatever popping in and hanging out. It’s been a really, really strange but cool way to reconnect with each other.
JH: When you’re thinking about how you’re going to stage something like this, have you sat down and watched other live streams of any other artists that you like?
MV: Yes, I definitely have.
There’s a couple that we’ve gone back to, most namely the Bill Withers BBC performance, which has always been one of my favorites. But I feel with that vibe the song can be arranged in so many different ways, but it feels really genuine, intimate. It wasn’t like a stripped down performance, but the arrangements really lent themselves to speaking directly whether or not somebody was right in your face responding to it.
JH: When you’re thinking about the energy you would be getting from the audience, how are you making up for the lack of people in your performance space?
MV: I think the first thing that came to mind for us was, what are the songs that that we love playing ourselves? There’s some songs that you play, and you play them because people, react immediately to them, but they may not be the ones that at that moment are top on your mind or on your heart. And so the the songs were definitely chosen for that. Because at the end of the day, I know that we’re going to be giving out energy, but we’re not going to get it back in real time. So we really have to feel comfortable and excited ourselves and in ourselves to do it.
Other than that, just working through arrangements, cutting the fat, cutting the extra parts of the songs that are for theatrical effect because I know that’s personally not my best mode of communication. And it’s even harder through through a camera on the internet. We just wanted to make sure it was going to feel genuine and that everyone in the band was going to have fun. Because that, inevitably, that’s going to show.
Well, every time I’ve ever seen you play not only are you guys having fun, but we are all having fun too. And I appreciate that y’all are giving us a show in our homes. Thank you!
MV: Thank you.