Exclusive Track Premiere: ‘Black Summer,’ Umm


Umm, a new Los Angeles-based band, formed—as one might expect given its name—inadvertently. Its members, Stefanie Drootin and Chris Senseney, are married; they met when Senseney’s band opened for Drootin’s on tour, and as Drootin describes it, “were basically immediately pregnant.” Having recorded albums together as other bands (including as two-thirds of Big Harp), the couple was no stranger to collaboration, but Umm emerged spontaneously. “We thought we were taking a break from music,” says Drootin, “but we started messing around with harmonies and these songs were just there really quickly.”

Umm’s first single “Black Summer,” which we are pleased to premiere below, is a compelling blend of mellow and vintage sounds. The lyrics (“I don’t want to / Live forever / Just as long as I can”) ground the song, and explore the subject of mortality both apathetically and with a poignant mindfulness. “When I was younger I thought that at some point you sort of arrived at your life and then just lived it out,” says Senseney. “The older I get, the more I think of death as a destination.”

“Black Summer” arose from a time of self-reflection. When Senseney’s grandmother fell ill, he began thinking about the shape of life. “I was thinking about Stef and I living and traveling together, and how fragile and voluntary relationships are, and how beautiful that is,” explains Senseney. “It was just kind of a swirl of mortality and death, but hopefully not in a dark or morbid way.”

For Drootin and Senseney, creating music is an integral part of their relationship, and “Black Summer” reflects the path they want to continue on. Smitten with the close harmonies and fuzzed out guitars one can hear in the track, the pair wants to keep making the kind of music they’d like to hear. “While we’d be totally happy just making it for ourselves,” says Senseney, “it would feel great to think that other people appreciate it too.”