The multi-instrumentalist returns from the future with new music
“Every place that I go reminds me of Ohio. … Everyone that must go returns to Ohio.” Those are two phrases repeated on multi-instrumentalist and composer Jacoti Sommes' song “Oh Hi Yo,” from his last collection, Ubermensch. Listening to the altered voice of the singer, you'd probably think it sounds like an alien. And you'd be right.
“That song is actually written by a couple aliens that I know,” Sommes said in an early-May interview at the Wexner Center, where he will perform Saturday, May 12, as part of the multidisciplinary Flyover Fest. “Every time they come to Earth, they end up in Ohio.”
The aliens are from a planet called Mucoduco. Sommes has been there multiple times, providing music for their parties. Though he has been fortunate to tour there — and in more humble places like Los Angeles, Memphis and Chicago — he, too, has returned to Ohio.
“[Columbus] is always gonna be home,” he said. “People tend to cultivate lasting, meaningful, decades-long relationships here. … I don't feel like I can really get that quite anywhere else.”
Beyond those relationships, Columbus offers a unique approach to art, according to Sommes. “I've seen this happen in many genres over the years,” he said. “We are very good at taking whatever we have and making the best out of it. It ends up sounding weird and different, but it's always good [and] it's always innovative. … In a way we've always been looking to the outside world for inspiration and looking for our place to fit, and all the while we're creating our own space.”
Sommes has occupied a multi-faceted role in the Columbus music scene, playing with performance art group Hugs and Kisses, producing for rappers like the late Nes Wordz, and creating his own other-worldly music, which relies heavily on his MFB Tanzbar Drum Computer.
“I rock a whole show with that drum machine,” Sommes said. “I remember the first time I did that, it blew my mind and everyone's around me. … I just feed off of the energy of the room, which is fun and interesting, and I've been addicted to it since.”
“One of my favorite things to do when I play a show is … see what everyone else plays first, and then I'll listen to what they did, and then I'll recreate it,” he added.
To that end, Flyover Fest attendees can expect an unpredictable show with ideas Sommes says he can finally express with a proper sound system. “We're gonna run the gamut of all the frequencies,” he said. “[I'll] mix them together and make a wonderful dish for your ear.”
Beyond his Saturday show, Sommes is excited about the future of music, which he said is foreshadowed in the current “mumble rap” style.
“If you step back and take a look at what they're really doing, they're stepping out on a whole new plane that no one's ever seen,” he said. And though there have been complaints about a lack of content within the genre, more depth is on the horizon.
“There's starting to be rappers coming out who actually have content using that rhythm and that style,” he continued. “It's gonna morph into something even more beautiful.”
And Sommes would know.
“I'm from the future, so I already did everything,” he said. “I can come back [and] meet everybody in the middle somewhere.”