Chicago’s OK Cool brings signature DIY spirit to new EP ‘fawn’

The indie duo is celebrating the record and its quasi coming-of-age narrative with a record release show on May 4 at Schubas.

SHARE Chicago’s OK Cool brings signature DIY spirit to new EP ‘fawn’
Haley Blomquist (left) and Bridget Stiebris are the Chicago indie band OK Cool.

Haley Blomquist (left) and Bridget Stiebris are the Chicago indie band OK Cool.

Kennedy Cottrell Photo

Bridget Stiebris and Haley Blomquist grew up towns apart, in Downers Grove and Elk Grove Village, respectively, but it would take a move to the city to begin college and a little Facebook intervention to bring the two twentysomethings together and eventually form the Chicago indie rock duo OK Cool.

“I went to Columbia College and Bridget went to DePaul, but I found her on Facebook. I was looking for a drummer, and it was an all-girl group, so that was very specific to try and maintain that. That’s what helped me find her,” recalls Blomquist.

OK Cool

OK COOL

When: 8 p.m. May 4

Where: Schubas, 3159 N. Southport

Tickets: $15

Info: lh-st.com

It’s been a “couple bands’ long journey” since then, starting off with a pop hit covers project before evolving first into local indie/alternative group The Weekend Run Club, and now OK Cool, which was born during the pandemic from the living rooms of Stiebris’ apartment in Ravenswood and Blomquist’s digs in Albany Park.

On April 28, the duo released their third EP “fawn” on their Take A Hike Records label. They’re celebrating the record and its quasi coming-of-age narrative with a record release show on May 4 at Schubas.

“I was thinking about psychological terms like fawn and fight and flight and freeze and things like that, in relation to the ways we can react to other people. A good number of these songs are just about relationships I’ve experienced,” says Stiebris, adding that the imagery of a fawn trying to find its legs and begin to walk was fitting in terms of her own growth in getting over a pretty severe case of imposter syndrome. (A Midwest tour this summer brings them back to Subterranean on July 30.)

“As a drummer now being the ‘frontperson,’ in a sense it’s scary s- - -,” adds Stiebris who jokes that she first got the gumption to get on stage as a kid after seeing the movie “School of Rock.”

“The way this [current] band works is just so different than the other stuff we did before. I’ve mostly been a drummer and a guitarist [while Blomquist played bass in their previous groups],” Stiebris adds. “So this band is kind of us taking what we’ve learned prior as a rhythm section and filling in the cracks and becoming the people who are writing the songs rather than just writing our parts.”

The duo has been having fun with the process, too, playing around with new sonic textures on “fawn,” which pays homage to the raw nature of their demos. All song titles are lowercase, and the whole EP clocks in at eight songs — just 17 minutes — keeping the listener’s attention start to finish with dreamy pop fuzz daydreams on songs like “nissanweekends” and “normal c,” the latter ending with an audio clip from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Music videos have been fun experiments, too, including an incredible stop-motion animated piece for “nissanweekends” created by Joe Baughman.

“I wanted to put a bit more acoustic guitar on this EP. I was really into Alex G for a couple years and listened to a lot of Big Thief. I have a soft spot for indie folk,” says Stiebris. “We are trying to embrace the scrappiness that has carried us this far. … It’s always fun to make something yourself and see how far you can get with it, which is exactly what this band is.”

Stiebris, who was enrolled in a music business program in college, has had internships at Chicago rehearsal space Music Garage, music club Reggie’s and Riot Fest, and currently books shows for Beat Kitchen and Subterranean, while Blomquist works at WBEZ as an engineer and logged time at a few other local radio stations prior. Blomquist’s technical skills have come in handy in the recording studio as OK Cool takes a hands-on, DIY approach to everything they do.

“Through our jobs, we got to know more and more people and figure out common connections, so when we [created] this band, all that knowledge and all those contacts, we still have them,” says Stiebris. “It’s a great community here, there’s so much good music coming out all the time. I’m still just constantly learning about new bands every day. Absolutely every sound is here somewhere.”

The Latest
The 23-year-old Shannon was accused of committing sexual assault last September while visiting Kansas for a football game between the Illini and the Jayhawks.
The Cubs sunk to a 13-15 record in an MLB-leading 28 one-run games.
After three tumultuous years as AD, Gragg’s primary responsibilities will lie in the expansive, ever-evolving realm of NIL, with a focus on fundraising.
Lee catches Garrett Crochet in his third game of Mariners series behind the plate.