#FromTheVault: ONO [TSM01]



December 2015

Interview w/ P. Michael of ONO

Words on the composition and inspirations informing ONO’s 5th studio album Spooks.

TSM: In a recent interview done after ONO’s performance for WHPK’s Pure Hype you were listing various inspirations for the album Spooks. I remember you mentioned Samuel Delany. What specifically do you find engaging about Samuel Delany’s writing and how was it used in Spooks?

P. Michael: I read Dhalgren in the ’80s and I think that it had such an impact on me that it has always had some sort of subconscious influence on what I do. The novel throws out all the rules of linear writing and did exactly what it wanted to do to tell a story, much like ONO does. Spooks has so much overlay of ideas, sort of classical Greek in style, the use of a harmonica all over, Billy the KID entrance into a god forsaken environment, the spooks art work – it’s all there.

TSM: ONO, especially in Spooks, feels a lot like story telling in musical form. How does ONO make this bridge between the formal elements of the music and the story told by its lyrics?

P. Michael: All ONO shows have a defined premise – that is Something Leads to Something (i.e. Avarice leads to Imperialism). ONO is a lyric focused band, meaning you must be able to hear the words clearly. The sounds we make emphasize the lyrics and bring forth a response or feeling from the listeners. There are pop/hip-hop samples running throughout our show for dramatic relief/release, to provide some happiness, or to allow us to set up for the next number and sometimes the samples are part of the story.

TSM: I have heard you say that you focus more on counterpoint than chord progression. Could you talk more about your conceptions of counter point? What are the “rules” or themes of counterpoint that Spooks makes use of? What have you learned during all these years with ONO about how to improvise counterpoint? What is difference between consonance and dissonance is?

P. Michael: Spooks was recorded with a 10-piece band all in the room at the same time. The night before the recording I wrote out instructions to keep the recording orderly. I divided the band in half and programmed two different drum samplers one for each band to follow. The bands were given headphones and each band hearing differing patterns with a different start and stop time they could only play when the pattern was playing. They were playing the same song or variations of it lead by Travis and myself who could hear what both bands were playing. They were playing in counterpoint of each other. This was the basically the first time I have deliberately used counterpoint with ONO, but ONO does make use of an overlay of sounds on a regular basis…ONO plays in multiple keys at the same time, which is our relationship with consonance and dissonance. Travis sings in the key of sort of D or C… all of Dawei’s guitars are in exotic tunings that sort of match the voice but not really. Rebecca’s keyboard playing is pretty standard and constantly searching to keep things normal but of course the rest of the band don’t make it easy for her… she might play in C but then we might start in C but move to B-flat or E-flat which brings about consonance and dissonance …soothing, can sound like it is in both a major and minor key at the same time. There are multiple samplers and 2 to 3 drum machines going on plus real drums as well.

Artwork by ONO’s travis

Announcing: The Sick Muse #11 Featured Essay + Poster Contest

We are excited to make a public call for two paid commissioned works for our upcoming 11th issue: one written, one visual. While we have commissioned work from individuals before, this is our first time making a public call for paid work, as we make strides to being able to pay all our contributors. Each selected artist/writer will receive $50.

  • Featured Essay (Creative Nonfiction Writing)

We are seeking to publish a thoughtful, creative, and original essay that explores in some way the theme of mass media: how do ideas propagate? How does art and knowledge move so that they can move us? How does power play into this? How does form play into this? The meaning of “mass media” is up for your interpretation. Anything Chicago-related is a plus.

Submissions could be in the form of cultural criticism, personal essays, social commentary, and narrative journalism, but we are also excited by writing that does not conform to form. For this featured essay competition, we are not accepting profiles of a single artist or collective, interviews, or short stories/fiction (but we welcome them in our general submission process!). The selected writer will work with an editor after selection, so the submitted piece can be a rough draft.

Please keep to approximately 1500 words max.

Deadline: December 15th

  • Centerfold Poster

Design a poster for the centerfold! The centerfold sheet of the issue will be a poster that readers can remove and hang on their walls. Posters should in some way explore the theme of mass media: how do ideas propagate? How does art and knowledge move so that they can move us? How does power play into this? How does form play into this? All styles and mediums welcome: the poster can be abstract, informational, aesthetic, or didactic. The poster will be part of a run of 5000 copies on newsprint.

Please submit a detailed sketch of the poster in the appropriate dimensions (see below). If available, include examples of past work or a link to your website/portfolio so we can get a sense of your style.

Deadline: December 15th

Dimension: Centerfold dimensions are 21” x 10”. The final version will be printed in full color (CMYK) on newsprint.

Send submissions and questions to sickmuse.chi@gmail.com

Celebrate The Sick Muse 10 Release!

On the opening night of The World’s Fair 2018, join us to celebrate the release of The Sick Muse 10: UTOPIA at the Co-Prosperity Sphere!!

With performance by:

Glad Rags

>>radiant device<<

MC Foucault

DJ Sasha No Disco

+ Comedy
+TSM-curated art gallery with works by Sarai Redmond, Alex XIII Maerbach, Jordyn Belli, Eliza Karazah, Sustainable Confidence and more!

The Sick Muse 10 is centered around the theme of UTOPIA and it is the first magazine-format, glossy af issue printed at 8.5″x11″!! The release is part of the World’s Fair 2018 (www.nomoneynoborders.com)!

??Pre-order your copy of TSM 10 here??

Doors at 7 / Show at 8
$8 suggested donation
**Free raffle ticket with entry**
Prizes include merch from local bands and more!

!!!!Food and drink for sale!!!
(no byob)

Pre-Order TSM 10!

Gahhhhhhh the biggest baddest glossiest issue of the Sick Muse is almost here…and for the first time ever, we’re offering a pre-order situation: so follow this link!

The Sick Muse 10 is centered around the theme of UTOPIA and will include:

  • an interview with rap duo Mother Nature about becoming hip-hop geniuses
  • an interview with »radiant devices«, Chicago industrial and downtempo electronics wonders
  • a guide to foraging wild life and growing food in Chicago
  • a foto series of queer nightlife by ColectivoMultipolar
  • a timeline of DIY Chicago from 2000-2036
  • an account of cooperative living
  • and uh, so much more! We don’t want to give it all away 😉

Printed on 8.5″ x 11″ glossy paper and 68 pages long, our 10th issue will include waaay more content by/about Chicago DIY artmakers than ever before. (It’s also way more expensive to print. We’re trying to keep the cost as low as we can while also creating a beautiful, exciting zine bursting with knowledge and fresh creations. We’ve cut down the number of zines we print yearly in order to create more expansive issues, so think of this as three issues in one).

The issue drops June 22 on the opening night of the World’s Fair 2018. Stay tuned for details about the release party!

We love you and thank you for your support.

Now in Stock at: Sustain!


The Sick Muse is now in stock at Sustain, an artist-run gallery and art shop in Uptown. Issue 8 and 9 are currently stocked, with more back issues on the way. We’ve never looked so pretty.

Sustain has a lovely selection of handmade goods and a sick zine/book table. They also run a tape label: Niatsus!

They have an open proposal system for their gallery and workshop programming, so hit them up!