Finom, formerly known as Ohmme, is about to release its fourth studio album as a band, but it’s the duo’s first under the new name change.  

“It’s a little bit like, let’s burn the old world and make something new out of the ashes,” says Sima Cunningham. “There are certain elements of frustration with the whole process of having to change our name—it was hard.”  

Finom is a Chicago-based experimental rock band that pulls from various genres, including progressive rock, jazz, folk, alternative and indie rock, avant-garde and improvisation. Its diverse musical backgrounds lead to a sound only Finom could create. 

This is the second time Cunningham and Macie Stewart, both singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, have had to change the band’s name. The duo went by Homme when they released their first album Parts in 2018. The recent change was due to legal reasons—another musician goes by the same moniker.  

“We’ve had a record under each name, and there’s something kind of fun about being like, that was that era, and this is us now. Who knows what will come next,” Stewart says. “It’s always been our goal to make what we want and not let anyone tell us what to do.  

“That was a beautiful silver lining. I feel the proudest about this record of all our records, and I’ve felt that way about every record we’ve made,” she says.  

Cunningham jokes, but is partly serious, that she’d rather tour for 12 weeks straight and sleep on floors every night than have to produce another band name again.  

“What if we just said, we don’t know who Ohmme is. We’re Finom. We don’t know her,” she laughs.  

Finom combines the word ‘fin,’ which means end in both Spanish and French, with ‘om,’ a play on Ohmme. The end of Ohmme.  

“We are Finom, but Ohmme is still in us,” Cunningham says. “It kind of feels like when you get married and change your name.” 

Finom Not God cover art

Id, ego, superego 

With Not God being their first album as Finom, the duo reflected on the excitement of releasing one song at a time before the full release on May 24. And the songs still feel quite fresh to them, despite working on the album for the past year or so. 

Most of the songs on Not God were brand new when recording at The Loft, Wilco’s studio in Chicago. And while the duo feels they’ve grown a lot since writing and recording the album, Stewart says the special part about writing songs is that two years down the line, they have a deeper meaning.  

“The world is still in a crazy place, maybe a slightly different kind of insanity, but we’re once again facing off all of these terrible wielders of power,” Cunningham says. “And the record kind of deals with that. It feels more cathartic now to sing those songs than it did before.”  

Not God addresses ego in a lot of ways—personal ego, and the depression and inflation that comes along with it. But it also looks at characters out in the world who have an inflated ego, inflated power and how that ignites feelings of anger. Cunningham says some songs also almost laugh at people who position themselves as powerful figures.  

I hear that on Cyclops, reinforcing the statement that you’re “not god” and nobody cares about your band. And A Petunia, a song that pokes fun at bullies. 

Bully on the big mound / thinks he’s got the high ground / what a petunia 

The album also looks at internal power struggles with oneself and others, and how that can manifest in a disturbing way.  

“When you feel powerless, or when you are trying to take control over something, that ego struggle—if you’re in a position of power—can be a really scary thing,” Stewart says. “It ended up being what a lot of the songs are about.”  

No two songs sound the same

If you listen to Finom, you’d notice that there are no two Finom songs that sound alike, which is just another intriguing aspect of the band. Cunningham and Stewart both grew up classically training and playing music in Chicago, which has ultimately led to a freedom of experimentation. As artists with individual music projects, the duo knows when a song is a Finom song.  

“We’ve had a couple of songs over our life as a band where there’s an open invitation for us to both put like a big stamp on it. But generally, Finom songs are only Finom songs if there’s space for both of us,” Cunningham says.  

Sixty percent of the time, Stewart notes, either she or Cunningham will bring in a song and they will finish and arrange it together, so that it becomes a Finom song. For example, on Not God, Stewart brought in the song Hungry. She had the complete idea and knew what she wanted to do with the arrangement and most verses but could not figure out a chorus. Cunningham was able to distill a chorus and complete Stewart’s vision.  

“We don’t like to do the same things twice. We like to make sure we’re always continuing to challenge ourselves and our own creativity, because that’s what brings us a lot of joy,” Stewart says. “That’s why we like working with each other because there’s always constant creative stimulation.”  

Cunningham thinks of Finom as a character that comes from her voice and that of Stewart. 

They’re not the first duo to make it work, but they’re also pretty damned special for it. To grow up individually as an artist is one thing, but to do it alongside another person is something else entirely. That takes patience, support and appreciation, which is everything that Finom has and is.  

A cinematic imagination 

Finom is so unmistakably Finom, but Cunningham and Stewart have such distinct individuality that they bounce off one another harmoniously throughout each song.  

Ten years as a band, Finom’s Not God maintains a level of certainty and excitement about who they are and what they want to create. Songs like As You Are reflect on the simple joys of childhood and relationships and finding that same joy in adulthood, the inevitable. It’s something I find myself seeking out as a get older, a connection to who I once was—tapping into that child-like glee, curiosity and acceptance.  

I killed the bugs I called my friends / And used their guts as ink / I long for empty afternoons / Bleeding from the knees / When you would catch my laughter / And eat it as a snack / Those sticks and scars / Unfinished carvings / Still sit on my back 

That joy and playfulness is evident throughout Finom’s creative process, which ends with a collection of creative, cinematic music videos that invite listeners into an alternate world.  

“A huge part of our lives and our community now is this amazing network of artists, video artists, set builders, designers, and costume makers. Making videos is a lot of work. But honestly, those days spent with huge groups of our friends hanging out and acting we the most fun,” Cunningham says.  

It’s the other half of their creative output, Stewart adds.  

Cunningham excitedly recounts their final music video out on release day for the song Not God, which features a nine-month pregnant Cunningham as a cult leader. Directed by Chicago artist Glamhag, the video, as well as the other three videos, are made possible by Chicago musicians and friends.  

Musical birthplace 

“I think people now make fun of Chicagoans because we all just get together in other cities and talk about how great Chicago is,” Cunningham laughs.  

Cunningham and Stewart are both deeply weaved throughout the Chicago music community. A week before I spoke with Finom, a friend texted me about seeing Cunningham and her brother Liam Kazar at a Sam Evian show. And that’s exactly how it is. Both together and individually, the Finom support and collaborate with countless Chicago artists and projects.  

“Chicago has been an incubation hub for innovative music for 50 plus years,” Cunningham says.  

And Stewart notes the relative affordability of the city, enabling artists to focus on creating. 

“It’s a really special place to be in, and is extremely grounds for those facts, because there isn’t a main artistic industry here,” Stewart says. “We don’t have major labels based here and a lot of it is very independently run. I think that’s also part of our ethos, like we’re just making stuff.”  

The Loft 

Wilco, and Jeff Tweedy, are a center piece of the Chicago music style. Finom has long collaborated with Tweedy, and even recently toured with Wilco in Japan earlier this year. And while the band has spent a lot of at The Loft over the years, this was their first time recording an album there. Tweedy produced Not God and served as outside ears and eyes in bringing Finom’s creativity to life.  

“We did some cool song crafting with him,” Cunningham says. “The songs were already done, but some were sort of repetitive in chords. We love simplicity, but he helped us play around with reharmonizing some of that stuff, which was a cool moment of that session and cracked open some big feeling moments on the record.”  

The walls and floors lined with hundreds of guitars and other collections of instruments, The Loft is set up to inspire creativity and comfort. Working with Finom, Cunningham says Tweedy was very playful in the studio, messing around with different sounds, serving the songs. 

“He wants to help achieve as raw and emotional a performance as possible, Cunningham says. “When you’re recording something, if you’re getting really into it, it can be hard to step back. It’s helpful to have someone who you really trust to be like, ‘Was that good? I was inside the box, you were outside of the box, how does it look?’” 

As you are 

Not God, whether intentional or not, marks a new beginning for Finom. Each album feels like a new beginning for the band, because they are open to rolling with the tides of change and learning from it. The music holds a special meaning in their lives and friendship, but Stewart says she hopes Not God allows people to uncover something within themselves. Her dream record is one that makes people feel, no matter what the emotion is.  

Cunningham agrees and adds that Not God is an album she hopes ignites confidence in listeners. It’s a hearty rock album that varies in style, which isn’t necessarily done purposefully.  

“It’s something that happened very organically between the two of us, because it’s how we work,” Stewart says. “That’s how we listen to things, and how we digest things as well. I think the songs we wrote and brought to the record dictated where things were going to go.”  

Finom are unbelievably refreshing and exciting, especially in an era of internet music where there is a lot of repetition. Finom likes to be adventurous when it comes to arrangements, which is at the core of the spirit of the band.  

Not God comes out Friday, May 24 via indie label Joyful Noise Recordings, and the band is slated to perform the album live for the first time that night at a sold-out gig at The Hideout. Finom also announced a larger Chicago album release show at Metro on Nov. 2, their first time headlining the iconic Chicago venue.  

“We haven’t been able to play these songs live yet, so it feels fresh. We are absolutely fucking stoked to play them,” Stewart says. 

Start with Finom’s song Water and it might prepare you for what to expect from other Finom songs. 

Pay attention to how the guitars lead the song’s direction, and their simultaneous vocalization brings it all together. Stewart says it’s a bit more abrasive, which is a huge part of what they do, and they sing together a lot on the song. Their vocals bring a lightness to the rigid and powerful instrumentation. 

Kendall Polidori is The Rockhound, Luckbox’s resident rock critic. Follow her reviews on Instagram and X @rockhoundlb, TikTok @rockhoundkp