Hitting the Right Notes: A Candid Chat with OMNOM

Jun 13, 2024

Photo of Michela Iosipov

Michela Iosipov

11 min read

Starting out with impromptu sessions on his grandparents' piano, OMNOM has ascended from the Los Angeles underground to blowing away audiences at major festivals like EDC Las Vegas and Electric Forest. Known for his "whirlpool of weird" style, OMNOM brings a fresh take to house music with each release, including hits like "Losing Control," which soared to #1 on Beatport. This feature explores OMNOM's journey through the music industry, highlighting his collaborative project with Odd Mob, their chart-topping tracks, and his upcoming move to Orlando, which promises new beginnings. Dive into the story of a DJ who's elevating house music with a blend of irreverence and top notch production.

Can you share a memorable moment that ignited your passion for making music?

It all started with me just messing about on my grandparents’ piano from the age of three or four. They used to babysit my sister and me while my parents were at work, so I spent a ton of time at their house growing up. If I wasn’t playing computer games or watching the Disney Channel, I was probably sitting at their piano. I never really learned how to read music for it, so I just learned how to pick songs apart by ear (pretty well too, if I’m being honest). But yeah, that’s definitely an ability that has helped me throughout my entire journey in music at all levels.

Since your collaboration with Odd Mob began in 2020, your partnership both on stage and in the studio has been remarkably synergistic. How do your distinct styles complement each other, and what unique elements do each of you bring to your music and performances to create a cohesive whole?

We get asked this question pretty often and after many attempts at answering, I think the best response we can give is that it basically just comes down to being good mates first and foremost. We’ve always been really good at maintaining a chill vibe when we’re in the studio which really goes a long way in getting things done.

No one enjoys marathon sessions where you’re trying to force an idea to work when in reality it might just be a dead end. I’ve noticed we have a knack for not getting too attached to an idea, and if one isn’t working we can quickly shift gears and turn it upside down or just start up a new one completely.

How do you balance the demands of touring with time for music production?

It’s not as easy as you’d think, and it’s definitely taken me some time to figure out a system/schedule that works best for me personally. I am lucky enough to be renting a really great studio not too far from my apartment complex these days, but I also share the space with two other busy producers so while it’s awesome that we get to use each other’s gear, we also have to keep most days divided into 4-hour blocks, so yeah. I feel like I definitely got a LOT more tracks finished back when we had an in-home studio at my last house and I could just walk in there at any given time and sesh it up for hours on end (many times all night depending on deadlines).

I’ve always been the type to get random sparks of creativity at random times or weird hours, even though they say it’s not good to be like that. So when those moments of inspiration hit these days, I’m more likely to just sketch an idea out on my laptop from the couch and save it to expand on in the studio another day. Living in an apartment where I can’t have even the tiniest studio setup without getting noise complaints has definitely been a bit of a hindrance for me these last couple of years. Which is probably one of the biggest reasons (if not THE biggest reason) why I’m so excited to be moving into a new house in July.

You doodled and manifested your logo in your history book. Can you tell us how you came up with the name “OMNOM”?

Well, my government name was already taken by another DJ so I felt the need to come up with something else. I guess my original reasoning behind the “OMNOM” name was just to have a name that looked loud and difficult to misspell or misinterpret when you hear it (although you’d be surprised at how often promoters still get it wrong). Anyone who’s been following me since the beginning would know I also had a very clear artistic vision for the branding surrounding the project.

They’ll probably remember all the food-themed flyers and visuals from my first year or 2 of touring as well as that “CHOMP” sample I used to hide in all my tracks/remixes. I think coming straight out of the gate with a very unique and fully-realized look for my project definitely went a long way in making me stand out in those early days (maybe the music helped too, idk).

How has living in Los Angeles influenced your music and career?

Interesting you should ask because by the time you publish this, I will have already moved to Orlando, Florida. When it came to living in Southern California, I never really had much say in the matter, since this is where I was born. I wouldn't say it’s a necessity, but I’ll be the first to admit living in Los Angeles was definitely super helpful for me when I was first trying to come up in the scene as a new artist. I actually started the OMNOM project in San Francisco while I was going to SF State, and even though I wasn’t taking my production seriously back then, it was very noticeable how quickly opportunities materialized once I’d moved back to LA (whether that’s a coincidence or not is up to you).

We are fortunate to be living in the entertainment capital of the world here, so there is clearly no shortage of great shows, raves, concerts, festivals, etc. happening here all the time. It really is a privilege to live in a city that is a stop on pretty much every major artist’s tour, and being able to attend so many events as a developing artist makes it a lot easy to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the scene and apply influences of what’s new or hot to your own work (although with social media being so prevalent now, it’s not too hard to follow trends from just about anywhere). It’s also nice going to shows and meeting so many like-minded individuals who also live somewhere in the city (I’m trying to avoid using that dreaded term: “networking”).

All in all, living in Los Angeles is a love/hate relationship most of the time, and I’m sure just about everyone out here will have a different take on it based on their own personal experiences. But take it from me (as someone who will be moving as far away from here as possible in 3 weeks): I wouldn’t trade my path or the people I have met here along the way for the world.

What has been the most unexpected challenge you’ve faced in the music industry?

Finding a balance between following trends while also trying to stay true to my own individual taste and artistic vision.

Looking back, how has your approach to music changed since you started?

Comparing when I first really started producing to now it’s obviously gone from just a hobby to a full-time job, which, as you can imagine, comes with a pretty heavy sense of duty. These days there’s definitely an air of “I need to get in the studio and knock out these tracks or else…” compared to back when it was just an after-work hobby that I could just abandon or come back to whenever I felt inclined. Back when I was working at Buffalo Wild Wings to pay rent, the whole music thing was just a chill activity I did in my spare time.

Now the MUSIC thing has become what I do to pay the rent and BWW is my happy place (just kidding I haven’t been there in years). I will say psychologically, it’s also been a lot different writing tracks knowing now that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people are going to be hearing them, rather than the very small circle of internet friends I had when I first started posting stuff on Soundcloud back in the day.

What’s next for you in terms of projects or goals for the coming year?

The reception for the HYPERBEAM project with Odd Mob has been going better than I think either of us could have ever expected, so hopefully doing more music under that alias and maybe another tour next year if the timing is right. Obviously I still want to keep building the OMNOM project by playing bigger shows and putting out bigger releases/collaborations/remixes as well. I’d also really like to keep leveling up my production skills in the studio. I know I’ve said it before in past interviews, but I feel like now more than ever I’ve sorta reached a level in the scene where my music is being held to a way higher standard than it has in the past. Seeing my name on playlists and charts next to big-name artists who have probably been doing this for twice as long as I have has been really intimidating for me.

I don’t think it’s imposter syndrome per se, I just know that the wisdom of years is a very important part of this game, so I’ve made it a serious personal goal of mine to try and make up for lost time by learning as much as I can from the producers I work with and even from taking a few online production courses. I will say the effects of working with very talented artists through collabs and studio sessions have already been very noticeable in what I’ve been able to create on my own and how quickly I’m able to churn out new ideas in the studio. I’m trying to avoid getting complacent just because we’ve finally got some juice on the DSPs, and I’m still determined to continue trending upwards in the studio as well.

If you could only play one of your tracks to someone who has never heard your music, which one would it be and why?

That’s a tough one for me. I’ve had a couple of underground hits in the past 6 years that I know people probably still associate my name with, but I feel like even though they’re great songs with some strong nostalgia to them, I think they’re already the product of a bygone era and cater to a sound that no longer really resonates with me personally.

So it would definitely have to be one of my releases from the last couple of years, simply because those are the only tracks that I feel represent where I’m currently at or offer an idea of the direction I’m trying to go sonically.

So I guess I’d say maybe “Losing Control” (if for no other reason than maybe whoever I was playing it for might see the streaming numbers and think I’m a lot more popular than I actually am).

If you weren’t a DJ and producer, what career would you have pursued?

Teaching.

Any hobbies or interests outside of music that might surprise your fans?

Outside of music, I actually have an affinity for film and television. And I actually run a secret Instagram account specifically for reviewing current movies and TV shows. Good luck finding it(:

If you could make a track with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?

Trent Reznor, Michael Jackson, Layne Staley, Ian Curtis, H.E.R., Thom Yorke, Dua Lipa, Joji, COBRAH, Tyler the Creator, BENEE, GD Vandal.

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