David Dickson, Christian Lisser and Hannah Luree (from Left): Their individual influences create a perfect mix.
It could have been a disaster.
Madison's Oh My Love had been booked to open for Mates of State, the indie pop duo from Kansas, at the High Noon Saloon last April.
There was just one problem: Oh My Love had just lost two of its members, guitarist Kent Watson and bassist Zach Ellis. But the band's singer and leader, Hannah Luree, quickly improvised, playing the show with only drummer Christian Lisser and keyboardist David Dickson.
It turned out to be a happy accident, as Oh My Love stumbled upon a new sound.
"As we were playing, it hit us how much we loved the sound as a three-piece," says Luree. "That was the moment we realized we needed to pursue a little bit more of an electronic feel."
Luree says she got a "wonderful" compliment from Mates of States, a band she'd grown up listening to and loved. The praise convinced her she was on to something with the new sound.
Now a trio, the band started working on songs for a new EP, and the electronic-minded momentum continued. Lisser used a sample pad to create his beats, and Dickson played a bass synthesizer. While Lisser's brother Ben produced their folk rock debut, they opted to record the EP themselves in Luree's living room with recording program Logic Pro and a couple microphones.
The resulting EP, Free Ways, is composed of atmospheric songs full of big beats, sweeping melodies and lyrics both thought-provoking and cinematic.
"It's been a lot of sitting in my tiny living room, the three of us, laying down tracks and trying to figure out what sounds best," says Luree. "Landon Arkens at Blast House Studios mixed and mastered it to get that higher-quality sound that we wanted."
Luree admits that electronic music is more involved than their prior sound, but the limitless opportunities to mold the simpler sounds make the work worth it.
"It's what feels right for the three of us," says Luree. "Making electronic music is fun with all the different things we can do, and it seems like the opportunities are endless for us. The EP obviously has way fewer instruments than the full-length, but it was because of that that we were able to push the sound and make it what it is."
Luree says that their individual influences have created a perfect mix.
"I listen to indie electronic and remixed songs," she says. "Christian listens to a lot of hip-hop, angry hardcore hip-hop, so that's where he gets a lot of inspiration for his beats. David listens to a lot of really chill electronic music. He's a very laid-back dude. We all come together and it's this conglomerate of what we love musically."
Formed in early 2014, the band took its name from Luree's obsession with writing about love.
"I'm actually dating Christian, so I was talking about how all the songs on our full-length record are about ex-boyfriends, and I was like, 'What if we called it Oh My Love?'" Luree says. "A lot of songs I write are about love and dreams, and it just clicked."
Like the refocus in sound, much of the lyrical content on the EP focuses on changes and going on a journey. Some of the songs were written after their mini-tour out east, hence the title Free Ways.
"Two of the songs are reflective of traveling and one is growing up and missing parts of your life that are held in your heart as a memory. So it's reflective of moving forward and moving down a road," says Luree. "And then we just threw in two of the songs from the full-length because they've changed so drastically from what they were initially. It gives them a little bit of what we're playing live in a recorded version."
The band plans to keep digging into their newfound electronic sound. So far that decision is paying off, including a Daytrotter recording session in December. They hope to spark the interest of a label with the EP and play more shows outside of Madison.
"This is who we are and what we want to become and grow into," says Luree.