Meet OMNOM: House Music’s Latest Talent [Exclusive Interview]
Cody Lee, aka OMNOM, has been making some serious waves in the house music scene lately. Earlier this year, he had the internet longingly searching for a track ID following Dirtybird Campout East where Walker & Royce dropped his track ‘Fo Free’ during a back to back set with Claude VonStroke. A few months later the song was officially released on Dirtybird, satisfying the internet’s thirst for this catchy tune. His popularity has not stopped there, just this week his latest track “Know I’m Bad” was dropped as part of Insomniac Event’s “Track of the Day” and Hard Summer chose him to curate a mix for their official Mix Tape Series.
Jumping from the internet and on to the stage, he has begun to hit the festival circuit. About a week before the event he found himself slotted to play Electric Forest (one of the very last artists to be added to the lineup), his first festival where he would be onstage rather than in the crowd. He narrowly missed one of the biggest shows of his career to date. After going to the wrong airport twice, he was forced to take a ferry in order to get to the Forest in time for his set. Luckily, he made it!
Contributor Amanda Cosenza and OMNOM at Electric Forest
OMNOM gives us the full story on how ‘Fo Free’ went from being teased on Walker & Royce’s Instagram story to being officially released on Dirtybird. He also tells us how he takes his coffee and what he will be up to this summer in an exclusive interview below.
Festival Squad: What were you doing on year ago today?
OMNOM: Probably sitting at home watching YouTube videos about who knows what.
Festival Squad: If you told yourself then that you would be here at Electric Forest performing, do you think you’d believe it?
OMNOM: Hell no! Having a release out on Dirtybird, like an official single alongside all the names that have had official releases on the label, was my end goal for like five years plus down the line.
Festival Squad: When did you switch from being a music fan to actually making music?
OMNOM: A few years back. I think it was 2014/2015 when I would be going to music festival and shows and at one point I felt like in this scene I could be more of a music producer than just a consumer. I don’t wanna call it consumer because I feel like that’s condescending but I felt like I could be a contributor. I have had a background in music my whole life. I actually teach music.
Festival Squad: You’re working at a music camp this summer right?
OMNOM: I am working with Marching Band, the Madison Scouts, out of Madison Wisconsin for about six weeks this summer. I actually teach the visual side of things, like the forms and the feet and other things for a marching band. I have always had a background in music so it wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to start this kind of stuff. For me, it was more about learning the ins and outs of the computer programming side of things. Once I learned that, things really got a lot easier.
Festival Squad: When did things really start to pick up for you?
OMNOM: I have had a very crazy year. I had a little bit of a following, some people would recognize my name if I was playing a random show.
Festival Squad: How long have you had the name OMNOM?
OMNOM: Since I started. That is my first project since 2015. It wasn’t always house music. It was progressive house, some dubstep, and some trap. There are some things I have taken off my Soundcloud.
Festival Squad: When did you get into house music?
OMNOM: Really living in San Francisco is when I got exposed to the Dirtybird stuff, like the mezzanine quarterlies and BBQs. That was really the sound I fucked with the most. I really liked the cartoony version of tech house rather than the European boots and cats stuff. I just kept messing with that sound. I got a few good reactions from friends I sent it to. Then I sent it out to some labels like House of Hustle. They put out a few of my tracks when I was first starting. I had a few people who had heard of me but really the Dirtybird release is what launched things for me.
Festival Squad: How did that release happen?
OMNOM: It all came through Walker & Royce. One night when I was at a friends show in Costa Mesa. Gavin just happened to be there and I was friends with the people who were promoting the party and playing that night so I got to meet him. I got to introduce myself and tell him that I was a big fan of what him and Sam were doing. He said they were going to be doing a big family style B2B2B2B at the end of the night and that if I had my USB that I could throw some tracks in there.
Festival Squad: And you were like of course I have my USB on me?!
OMNOM: Oh yeah, in this scene you always got to stay strapped!
Festival Squad: So what happened next?
OMNOM: So I threw on some tracks and Gavin was like, “Hey is this you? You gotta send me some stuff!” A lot of DJ’s will often tell you to send them some stuff but that’ll be the last you ever hear from them. After the show I actually got to talk and pick his brain for about two hours or so. Even when I left that hang he was still like “Hey take my email down and send me some stuff.” Within the next couple weeks was when I finished the track that would eventually become ‘Fo Free’. I sent that to him and then I got some snap chats a week later saying that Walker & Royce tagged me in their Instagram story. I was like, oh yea they’re playing my track! Then a week later they were playing it in New York with Ardalan. Then they basically started playing it across their entire tour.
Festival Squad: They played it on Holy Ship right?
OMNOM: Holy Ship was when it really got people’s attention. People started asking “WTF is this track I keep hearing?!” There was already a buzz around it and they obviously liked it because they kept playing it. Then eventually they said they were going to send it to Barclay. Barclay’s big this is that he doesn’t really sign tracks to Dirtybird until he has a chance to road test them and play them at a show. For the longest time I guess he liked the track but never played it out. Then at East Coast Campout, Walker & Royce were slotted to play Friday night, the night everything got cancelled. So the next night, Claude was playing a set and it turned into a back to back with Walker & Royce and Claude VonStroke. So they played it and Barclay got to see the reaction from the crowd. Then after that the Facebook groups for Dirtybird Campout, Dirtybird Campout East, and Dirtybird were like “What is this track? Who made it?” I think that really is what influenced their decision to release it since there was so much hype around the track. Then a week and half after Campout I got an email saying that it was going to come out on Dirtybird.
Festival Squad: It’s been a whirlwind ever since, now you are playing more shows and festivals.
OMNOM: It’s been a bunch of lucky breaks and having the right people working with me. We are really trying to capitalize on this. I know a lot of people who have had releases on the label and it just doesn’t happen, it just wasn’t the right timing for them. It just so happens for me that the ‘Fo Free’ release has been the perfect storm of me working with an agent and being in touch with all these people. It’s all come together in a very serendipitous way.
Festival Squad: So what’s next?
OMNOM: I am actually going back to Madison to work for a few more weeks and then Hard Summer will be my next festival. Then a couple weeks after I will be playing at Moonrise with Chris Lake and Walker & Royce which will be crazy. I have a few other things I can’t announce. I am going to need a lawyer present!
Festival Squad: If you were planning a festival, who are three people you would have to have on that line up?
OMNOM: 3 acts? I would probably get some back to backs. Walker & Royce with Ardalan which will be at Hard Summer, Steady Rock B2B Franklin Watts, and then me B2B Mariah Carey.
Festival Squad: Are you a breakfast person?
OMNOM: When I have time but I am more of a breakfast for dinner kind of person. I like Eggo Waffles, the homestyle kind. I throw some bacon in there. French toast, if I have a lot of time. Hashbrowns, I fuck with those too.
Festival Squad: How do you take your coffee?
OMNOM: I use hazelnut creamer
Festival Squad: Oh you fancy!
OMNOM: No, great value the Walmart brand.
You can catch OMNOM at festivals like Hard Summer and Moonrise this summer.