OMNOM Gives it Up Fo Free at MDA Wednesdays
EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON
On April 25, we had the pleasure of hosting OMNOM, a rising star in the scene right now - at our lovely home of La Cave. He is known for tearing up dance floors and his tracks are supported by heavyweight DJs including Claude Vonstroke, Ardalan and Walker & Royce. His biggest track to date is Fo Free, which was released on Dirtybird Records on March 30.
Cody Lee, AKA OMNOM, chose to host his single release party at MDA Wednesday to the pure elation of the cave dwellers. Fo Free entry until 10:30pm resonated with the crowd as the place was packed from when the doors first opened.
Diamond Heist and Magda Halina slayed their sets and warmed up the night perfectly. Throughout their sets, I was constantly out Shazaming the tracks they were curating. OMNOM took the stage at midnight and kept the energetic vibe with quality house and techno.
Near the end of the night, OMNOM dropped Fo Free and the crowd absolutely ate it up. The place had been going off the entire night, but this brought the energy even higher than thought possible. He then unleashed a barrage of unreleased remixes of Fo Free, all capping off with a dubstep remix which was a delightful surprise.
Before his set, I caught up with Cody and asked him some questions. Here is what he had to say:
Kagan: How long have you been producing music? Have you been DJing that entire time?
Cody: It was three years in March, so just over three years. I’ve been writing music since fifth or sixth grade just because I’ve always been involved with music school and stuff like that. I’ve gotten into production later especially with house music but I never actually DJ’d any events until after I was already putting out tracks. I was just messing around with DJing in my free time.
Kagan: What inspired you to become a producer?
Cody: I always wanted to do something with music, and when you’re performing in an academic setting you’re never really performing stuff that you make. The more and more I listened to electronic music in high school and college I was kinda like you know what, I might be able to try my hand at this and be a producer rather than just listening to other people’s stuff all the time.
One of the toughest things is it takes so long for your ability to match with your taste. You’re gonna hate what you make for years. I still kinda hate the music I make, but when I started getting good feedback on tracks like Fo Free it really boosted my confidence enough to keep doing it.
Kagan: How does it feel to have your first release on Dirtybird Records?
Cody: When I search for music theory and concepts of classical music in electronic music, Ardalan, Justin Martin, Walker & Royce, they’re the best. Those guys are ridiculously musically talented. For them to start get my track and start playing my track out across their Self Help Tour, it was a really big reality check. I mean that album is the only one on my phone. If I was playing guitar or something like that, that would be like Led Zeppelin playing my track. It is really hard to comprehend.
Everything after that too. Getting signed to Dirtybird, Claude Vonstroke playing it, seeing Justin Martin play it, Ardalan, all these guys I’ve been listening to for the past few years especially when I was living in San Francisco. You start to look at those guys as these huge icons and then to have them messaging you on Twitter asking for unreleased tracks, its insane.
Kagan: What was that process like when Dirtybird signed Fo Free?
Cody: I had met Gavin Royce of Walker & Royce at a party in Costa Mesa. It just so happened that they wanted everybody to come up and play a few tracks for this big back to back to back family-style set at the end of this night at some random party our friend VNSSA was playing.
I played a track and Gavin came up and was like, "Is this you?" I said yeah and he asked me to send him some stuff. I actually finished Fo Free between then so I sent it to him as well. A few days later people were like hey check out Walker & Royce’s Snapchat. They tagged me in their story and it showed them playing my track. It happened again the next day, and again in New York at a back to back with Ardalan. It kept happening again and again and became a part of their touring set. I was blown away.
Eventually they said they were going to send the track to Claude in the next few weeks or so. Claude’s big thing is he’ll only sign something if he plays it out and gets a good response. He won’t just listen to something and sign it. He said that he liked the track but hadn’t gotten to play it yet. East Coast Dirtybird Campout comes along and it just so happens they cancelled the first day of the festival so they moved Walker & Royce’s set to being a back to back with Claude Vonstroke. They played it then and Claude looked at Elevator Musik, his A&R, and was like I get it now.
Who knows if he would’ve ever played it but it just so happens the stars aligned and they turned Walker & Royce’s set into a back to back with Claude, and the rest is history I guess. It was chaos on Instagram and Facebook pages, people were like what’s this track so there was this hype around it. Dirtybird saw this and signed it a few weeks after.
It’s kinda like what happened with Ryan Forever’s track Nasty. After the family set at West Coast Campout, that’s what everyone was looking for. I feel like it was kinda the same deal because he then got an official single on Dirtybird. I thought this was unheard of at the time because who does singles on Dirtybird? Claude Vonstroke, Fisher, it was crazy for them to bring this guy in but they ended up doing it with my track. It was crazy how it all happened.
There was such a hype around it already that people knew it was my track before they even knew who I was. It has been chaotic how everything started going down. People were like oh you have a track on Dirtybird lets get you playing here here and here. It’s all been happening really fast.
Kagan: What is next for OMNOM?
Cody: I just got announced for Hard Summer in August. I’m bottom line, like the smallest font, but at that point, it’s more about getting on the lineup with those names. The ultimate goal is to end up at Dirtybird Campout but right now we’re trying to back it up with some solid shows and other releases when I start sending more tracks out. We basically don’t want to sit there and ride the wave of Fo Free for very long.
Kagan: What is the inspiration behind your name?
Cody: I wanted something kinda silly. I didn’t want it to be my name or any iteration of my name or anything like that. OMNOM was just a cool sound like eating, like the cookie monster or something. Then when I thought of that I thought of the face and the letters in the mouth. It just seemed like it would work. Being able to make it all capital letters is something I was kinda looking for too. The face was just something I drew in class when I was bored. I actually haven’t changed it since day one.
Kagan: When producing what is your favorite piece of hardware?
Cody: My Novation Bass Station 2. Prior to that my first hardware synthesizer was an Arturia Microbrute. That was cool, you could get some really gritty sounds out of there but it seemed more meant for the G Jones, Eprom, and Bleep Bloop type stuff. I got the Bass Station because I had seen other producers I liked using it on Instagram and Snapchat. Come to find out that’s what Walker & Royce uses so when I listen to their stuff or other people I know who use it, I can pick it out. That’s my go to for bass lines in a lot of my tracks.
Kagan: What is your favorite piece of software?
Cody: I use Ableton and pitch shifting is something I have in pretty much all of my tracks, it’s all my own voice. If I want to do something more than just pitch bending in Ableton though, I’ll use a plugin called Manipulator by Infected Mushroom. It’s a really really sick plugin. You get a lot of crazy effects. You can make it sound like a robot and you can make it sound really gritty, it’s really cool. If you get familiar with that plugin you’ll hear it in all my tracks.
Kagan: You said you do all of the vocals on your tracks? So that’s all you on Fo Free?
Cody: Yeah actually one of the biggest responses I got was that people could recognize my voice on the track because it was the least that I’ve had to pitch down my vocals to get that “I’m gonna give it up for free”. Everybody I sent it to, like my sister and roommate, were like I can totally tell that’s you, that’s the way you talk even though it’s pitched down.
Kagan: What do you think of the electronic music scene out here in Orange County?
Cody: I think it’s a lot better for up and coming artists than pretty much anywhere in the world. I started producing house music in 2015 up in San Francisco. My stuff was getting no traction up there just because I wasn’t playing anywhere and I didn’t know anyone who was. I was just making stuff and throwing it up on Soundcloud. Then I moved back to Orange County where where it was a lot easier to get things heard. Why it still blows my mind that so many people are into my stuff is because I was making it for so long without getting any response. One of the first tracks I ever made in San Francisco in 2015, Magda just said she plays it every set. It’s Bromosapiens and that’s my voice too.
Kagan: Do you have any advice for producers trying to get their first release on a major label?
Cody: Just keep at it and always put the music first. I didn’t make an Instagram until I had already been making music for about two and a half years. I know so many people who’s whole hype is their Instagram or their Twitter. It’s like I have 3000 followers on Twitter I get 1000 retweets but you go on Soundcloud and they have like 10 followers. Put the music first and everything else will follow. Once people start playing your music and start realizing your music is the shit, they’ll care about what you’re doing on Twitter or Instagram or something like that but don’t let that be the gateway to your music.
It’s gonna take time. If you’re not willing to put the time in in the studio, it’s gonna hurt you in the long run. Walker & Royce have only been blowing up in the past three years and now they’re at the top of the top in terms of Dirtybird and house music, but they’ve been making music for a decade prior to that. It takes X amount of years to make an overnight success.
Those are some very wise words from a rising star at Dirtybird and in the dance music scene as a whole. I think we have a lot to look forward to from Cody as he progresses in his budding career as a DJ and producer. Be sure to follow him on Soundcloud and other social media channels so you don’t miss a bit.
Until next time, Ambassadors.
AKA DJ Moose Trax