Intuition, Details, and Language: An Interview With Zomes


Zomes is a duo based in Baltimore and Sweden. You might know Asa Osborne from his work in Lungfish; Zomes began as his solo project, and more recently has grown to include Hanna Olivegren on vocals. Their new album Near Unison is a hypnotic, compelling work, blending Osborne’s penchant for memorable repetition and drone-influenced music with Olivegren’s haunting vocals. I checked in with the duo via email to learn more about the group’s evolution.

Zomes began its life as a solo project, expanded to a duo, and has toured as a trio. What would you say is the aesthetic that brings (say) Near Unison and Earth Grid together?

Whether playing solo or now as a duo the core way in Zomes is simple melodic song structures. The connection between records is an ongoing freedom to work with melodies and rhythms without constraint. Finding details in small movements while exploring the power of subtle dynamics. The human voice now bringing depth and dimension to the earlier song search.

What is the the songwriting process generally like? To what extent does the trans-Atlantic aspect factor into it?

Although we live in different countries we stay connected by talking and sharing sketches with one another. When we do come together we focus and work towards building a complete body of songs.

An early Zomes album was titled Improvisations. Does improvisation still play a role in your songwriting?

Improvisation is the foundation to our search for songs. Although we are composing we like to let the structures be loose and open. We keep the sonic ingredients of our music minimal so that each time we play our songs we can continue to explore.

You’ve released music on a variety of formats, from digital to LPs to cassettes. Does the nature of a particular piece of music play a part in the format on which it’s released?

We go with our intuition as to which way to share our music.

Most of the song titles on Near Unison are in English, with “Se Genom Tiden” being a notable exception. What extent does language play in your music?

We both find Swedish to a very musical language, and It feels suitable to integrate it’s tonality with our chord structures.

What led to the decision to start your own label for Near Unison? Do you have any other planned releases as of now?

Starting our own label was something we felt strongly about doing. We were ready for the challenge of making our own way, and excited by the possibilities of going wherever we want to go. Our hope for the future use of the label is to share our work, as well as, the art and music of others that we find exciting and personal to us.

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