Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – OK Cool

Photo courtesy of OK Cool Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Alt/indie act OK Cool recently dropped the official music video for their single “Five Finger Exploding Heart Technique,” which was directed by Nina Gaulin.

The song will be featured on their forthcoming EP ‘Surrealist,’ slated for release on March 26, 2021.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with members Bridget Stiebris and Haley Blomquist about ‘Surrealist’ and more.

Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name? 

Bridget Stiebris – The phrase had been bouncing around my head for a while. I just noticed how often I and everyone around me used it and I liked how catchy it sounded. I also noticed that I could write it with only emojis, which really sealed the deal.

Haley Blomquist – There’s a really good bop of a song called “OKAY COOL” by Run River North, so I was on board. 

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music? 

Bridget Stiebris – I like the freedom of not having a set “genre.” Obviously, it’s leaning more towards the emo/math rock vibe at the moment, but I don’t hold myself to any sort of barriers in regards to the sound. The next record could sound completely different. If we think it grooves, that’s the only thing that matters. I really like pushing myself to write like the bands I listen to because it’s making me a better guitarist.

Haley Blomquist – There’s a lot of flexibility in these songs to play around. There were a few songs on ‘Surrealist’ where I came up with two or three different riffs for the same part and I had to choose which one it was going to be. It challenged my writing and I had a good time figuring it out with Bridget. 

Music Bugle – What was it like making your new EP ‘Surrealist’? 

Haley Blomquist – Everything was very DIY from the start. Mostly to save money and avoid involving more people during the pandemic. We would get together to write when possible or send ideas back and forth. It was also very fulfilling to be able to record it ourselves and just goof off in the studio. 10/10, would do again. 

Bridget Stiebris – Writing songs is always very difficult for me. I always joke to Haley that I hate writing songs, but I love having them. I would pull six-hour writing streaks if I had an idea, because I was so afraid to lose the momentum otherwise. It’s tough to make myself work on anything, even if it’s something I will ultimately enjoy. Having said that, once I finished the first draft of “Five Finger Exploding Heart Technique,” I felt very inspired to keep pushing and see if we could make an EP that showed real artistic growth. Once we had the demos down, it got to be more fun. I always love the recording process. We recorded drums at Sound Summit in Naperville, which was awesome and did the rest at Foxhole Creative, where Haley works. We pulled some very long hours, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians? 

Bridget Stiebris – It absolutely helps them. While I wish social media wasn’t run entirely by evil mega-corporations, I will say that it’s been crucial to the success of our other band, The Weekend Run Club and this band as well. It’s so important to be able to spread the word about new music, live shows, etc., to everyone that you can and develop a genuine relationship with people that like your stuff.

Haley Blomquist – There are so many music groups and little communities of people willing and wanting to help. We’ve met some really great artists, bands, venue hosts, you name it. When we started our indie record label, Take A Hike Records, we even found someone willing to help us with music-related tax questions. How nice is that? Someone would willingly take time out of their day to talk about taxes with you. 

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Bridget Stiebris – Artists have really been hit hard by this. I work in music as well, so I lost most of my hours due to everything being canceled. All the upcoming tour plans that we had were canceled as well. It really sucked the joy out of life entirely. Being able to see my friends and make new ones at local shows was such a gift.

Haley Blomquist – I’ve been in bands since I was 13 and this is the longest amount of time I’ve ever gone without playing a show. It is an incredible bummer. I think it has forced us to take a step back and focus on what we want to make together and how we want to do it, but 10/10, would not recommend the pandemic to a friend. 

Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write? 

Bridget Stiebris – This is tough. I think “Divers” probably took the longest to put together. It started out as a bass riff at Haley’s apartment and then I put a shitty beat over it and then I took it home and tried to piece it together. I pulled up an old poem to influence the lyrics and then tried to make those ideas fit into the musical context. Most of these songs were created in those marathon sessions where I have to jump into the “zone,” ignore everything else going on and just barf up everything in my head into my computer.

Music Bugle – If you had to pick your own theme song, what would it be? 

Haley Blomquist – “Washing Machine Heart” by Mitski.

Bridget Stiebris – “Appointments” by Julien Baker.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Bridget Stiebris – I listen to Brockhampton almost every day. I’m also really digging Great Grandpa, The Obsessives, Soccer Mommy and Alex G..

Haley Blomquist – The Aubreys, Hayley Williams, Slaughter Beach, Dog, The Ophelias and Peach Pit.

Music Bugle – What’s something you wish happened more in today’s music industry? 

Bridget Stiebris – I wish there was a bigger crackdown on ticket scalpers and scammers. It’s super heartbreaking to see those people buy out tickets for a show and price them super high on Stubhub. Live music should be affordable and accessible for everyone.

Haley Blomquist – I saw a stat recently about women in music that said only three percent of audio engineers are women and I’m sure that’s less for bipoc women. I think women are slowly getting more recognition for their work in music, but to have the scene shift to be more balanced would be ideal. 

Music Bugle – What are your goals for 2021? 

Haley Blomquist – Maybe by the end of the year, we’ll be able to play a show. We want to expand and work on our label, Take A Hike Records and just get through the rest of the pandemic while being as productive as we can. 

Bridget Stiebris – Currently, I’m just trying my best to survive the pandemic. After that, all I want to do is go on tour. That probably won’t happen until 2022, but better late than never!

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