Eight songs clocking in at a head-spinning, 17-minute runtime, OK Cool’s third EP fawn is at heart a direct line into the minds and creative processes of the band’s Bridget Stiebris and Haley Blomquist. It's a kaleidoscopic stride that showcases the ongoing evolution in their charming union of glistening math rock and fuzzed-out dream pop that the two Chicago shredders have been working on since their inception in 2020.
The duo’s curiosity for experimentation is reflected throughout: linear, untraditional song structures are bolstered by their athletic musical precision, acute sense for hooks, and wall-of-sound mastery crafted with reverberated Telecasters and transcendent effects. “It’s our ode to the demo,” Stiebris explains. “There’s not much that changed about the songs from the first draft to the final master, besides the production quality. We even kept all song titles in lowercase, exactly how the demos were saved on my computer.” The two harmonize and play all the instruments on the EP, with Stiebris on guitars and drums, and Blomquist on bass and additional guitar. “We like to record everything as a duo because we've always felt very in sync musically– working as just the two of us helped to cut down on compromise and make something we both feel good about,” adds Blomquist. Their adventurous leanings are especially evident in the dynamic, traversing highlight “4 what???,” in which Stiebris notes, “I had been listening to a lot of Spirit Of The Beehive at the time, and had a goal to make something that was as fun to play as it was to listen to.”
Written and self-produced over the course of two years, and ultimately completed in 2022 with the help of engineers Brad Harvey and John Micensky, fawn is a testament to the band’s DIY spirit. The two friends from college have been cutting their teeth in their local music scene for years, where they’ve established their own label (Take a Hike Records) and Stiebris has worked as a talent buyer for multiple venues.
Though the EP packs a confident punch, neither Stiebris (26) nor Blomquist (25) had ever taken on main songwriting duties in a band before starting OK Cool. “I had never sung on stage in my life and was extremely nervous about it. All we really knew is that we were always on the same page creatively in each project we had been in, and that was good enough to try writing together,” Stiebris explains. The EP’s resultant lyrics are notably honest and vulnerable. Inspired by their queer coming-of-age, its themes range from their internal struggles with depression and external struggles with relationships. “I think after more life experience I've become very attuned with the patterns I need to recognize and change in trying to make other people more comfortable in lieu of my own boundaries,” reveals Stiebris. “One of them being ‘fawning’ as opposed to the ‘fight or flight’ responses, in an effort to avoid conflict and establish some sense of safety. It’s something that's been on my mind the past couple years.”“It definitely did, and still mostly does, feel like we're just finding our legs in all of this. The idea of a baby deer learning to walk felt pretty appropriate for the title of the EP–it parallels the vulnerability that comes with taking on new experiences,” Blomquist notes. Though they may feel like they’re just finding their legs, fawn stands tall, unafraid to explore and define the unique sonic language of OK Cool.
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