Popping Up: OMI
Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
We (and many others) first got word of OMI at the beginning of this year, once his “Cheerleader” song remix caught the attention of people worldwide. From that song alone, the singer has racked up 90 million global streams on Spotify.
OMI stopped by the Idolator offices after his Sweden tour to discuss his plans for the debut album and the next step he wants to take in his musical career. Read on to see what this artist has plans for music in 2015, and also check out his official video for “Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)!”
NAME: OMI (His real name is Omar Pasley)
WHERE HE WAS BORN: Clarendon, Jamaica
HOW YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM: Felix Jaehn’s 2014 remix of OMI’s 2012 “Cheerleader” tune was picked as our “Future Hit” back in January.
ON HIS INSPIRATIONS GROWING UP: “My father was a big inspiration, and also Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke. Hip-hop also became a big deal for me in my teenage years.”
HOW HE FIRST GOT INTO THE MUSIC BUSINESS: “I always said that it is something that’s genetically encrypted in my DNA. It just feels destined for me. My father was a musician, and I started writing when I was 14. I realized that this is something I want to dedicate my life doing. I had one studio that I began recording all my material with, so I kind of kept everything under the same umbrella whilst I was developing my catalogue.”
IF HE EXPECTED “CHEERLEADER” TO BE AS SUCCESSFUL AS IT IS: “Yea, I did because to say I didn’t would mean that I didn’t believe in my own product. That’s far from [the truth].”
HOW HE LIKES THE FELIX JAEHN REMIX COMPARED TO THE ORIGINAL: “I love it! To me, it’s basically the same song. If I say something in French and you say something in English, you’re appealing to two different worlds. It’s speaking to a different audience, but it’s the same song. And it’s a win-win for me, because it’s my vocals on both tracks.”
IF HE’S WORKING ON A DEBUT ALBUM: “I’m always working in the studio — it’s not just about an album for me. I confuse people who are selecting the album from it because I’m always in there. You’re going to have a follow-up single, then ultimately an album.”
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NEW PROJECT: “I’m working with Clifton ‘Specialist’ [Dillon] and Salaam Remi. It’s a cool collaboration right there already. And it’s cool because it’s music, there’s no boundaries.
ON CHOOSING HIS NEXT SINGLE: “I’m letting the fans decide! I’ve been performing these two songs (“Color Of My Lips” and “Standing On All Threes”) and I’m watching the reactions, so I’m eager to know.”
ON ADVICE HE’S RECEIVED SO FAR: “Specialist is like my mentor. I’ve learned so much from him and [have] so much to take away from his teachings and apply it to this career. He’s been in it for so long.”
ANY DREAM COLLABORATIONS?: “I’d say Ne-Yo, John Legend…I really like Sia. I admire creative people like that.”
IF HIS JAMAICAN BACKGROUND INFLUENCES HIS MUSIC: “Of course it does. A lot of the elements in my music are indigenous to the Jamaican culture. But I’m a world music kind of artist, I don’t want to be boxed in.
HOW PEOPLE ARE RESPONDING TO HIS SUCCESS BACK HOME: “I can’t go to the grocery store anymore! You know the saying, ‘A man is never a king in his own country?’ Well, Jamaica has proven that theory wrong.”
IS IT HARDER TO BREAK IN AMERICA THAN IN EUROPE?: “To be honest, it probably is. America is pretty big and you have so many great talents here. Good singers, composers, producers, etc. It’s a big playground. Being in the position that I’m in, I appreciate it more.
HIS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOMEONE VISITING JAMAICA: “I always recommend Ocho Rios, we have the great Dunns River Falls. Montego Bay is becoming the hip strip for clubbing, plus I think it’s also a beautifully developing city. Kingston is kind of the business center of Jamaica. I would also tell them to go to the countryside in St. Elizabeth or go hiking on the Blue Mountains.
Are you digging OMI? Then view his official music video for “Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)” below, which premiered today (April 8).
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.