I ask that question because, with regards to artists such as yourself, who let’s be honest you’ve stood the test of time, and staying present and relevant, for a lot of people interested in you, I guess one of the things people would like to know is what gives you that longevity?
Well, I think it’s one of them things, where the music we still listen to, that was made in the 60’s,70’s, up until right now, it’s that music that when you hear it you want to hear it again, you can’t get enough of that tune, the classics and stuff, and one of the things I’ve always focused on, one of the things I’ve always wanted to achieve is to have a song that would play in a ‘dance’, songs where wallpaper and fiction generate motion, with that same thought, if you want to get down and shock out I have a piece of music that will reflect that time, that feeling that you’ll long since remember, with my music I’ve always strived for that, songs that are revered as classics, I mean the first single I made, ever made, I hated it after two weeks, I mean I hated this song with a passion, I still hate it now…”
“…And why’s that?”
“Because it don’t sound like me, its….you know, I was sixteen when I cut my first track and yet it was a good process to through, because I learnt, from then on, I knew that any track that I recorded I had to like it, it has to stand the test of time, so when I made ‘There’s Nothing Like This’, I made a cassette, just one song, over and over again, 45mins, and I just played it over and over and didn’t get bored of it, then I played it to my Dad, and then to an independent record label, Congo Dance, and I knew then it struck a chord, and from then on I’ve always tried to make music that would stand the test of time, where people still will be listening thirty or forty years down the line.”
How do you view the music as it is today?
I think that’s interesting, I think, creatively we are in a very interesting time, some of the modern stuff, like the pop, the r ‘n’ b, the stuff that the new age artists are kicking out , like Labrinth and Tine Tempah, I really like their productions, yes it’s a new thing that isn’t exactly a representative of them, but I’m glad to see that UK artists as a whole are being more represented, in the UK, and I know things like the MOBO Awards are a bit more controversial, especially when the event tended to pander to the American’s, and now, as far as music connoisseurs are concerned, more and more white acts is dominating the line-up….”
…And in your opinion has the event become somewhat diluted,considering the very origins of the event?
“Well it has, and the MOBO was always going to have this problem, when the event, i.e. the organisers are not out there trying to change the scene, or reinforce roots of origins, there out there to make money, and once you deal with that, and get over that fact, truth being told you don’t have to go to the show, or buy or listen to the music, or listen to the radio, take me, I don’t listen to the radio, I have my own personal selection and because music , different types of music isn’t for everybody, point being sometimes in today’s climate you’ll like what you hear, and other times you won’t, I’m just glad I started out when I did, there was less choice, less selection, whereas now, everybody , and his brother and his sister are doing it, ummmhhh, to tell you the truth I just hope they can get paid.
“And because it’s harder to buy music now, meaning it’s harder to sell music…
“The whole game has changed, now, my stance on that is this, years ago people were recording from tape to tape, then it went to CD’s and now its downloads, and because of this an artist has to work out how they’re going to earn a living, especially when you’re not signed to the blockbuster labels, like myself for example, I don’t make my living, predominantly, from CD sales, most of what I earn is from live performances and merchandising, and when you’re a CD artist, and people like your performance they’ll buy your CD at the gig, bottom line I see more CD sales due to live performances than off the record shop-shelf. It’s about evolving, as an artist, making a living, it’s about moving with the times, and in the industry if you don’t you become a dinosaur, and basically become instinct.”
Is there any other loves, aside from music?
Not really, music is my main passion, saying that I have doing some acting for the last three or four years, low level stuff, right now I have a one man play written by Chay Wallcock, I’ve been touring it around the country and other countries, wherever it’s been It’s sold out, so that’s good, it’s basically a 50minute monologue, with my music setting the tone.
So what for the future for Omar?
I also in the process of completeing my next album with my brother, Scratch Professor, and I’m really happy with the work we’ve done, after each album you can run out of ideas, and this one took a lot out of me, so, I have to make sure everything is working in the manner it needs to, and I’ve just re-renovated my studio, so, everything is set up for the next big push.
“Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you, thank you for your time.
“And thank you.
Omar Christopher Lye-Fook, MBE affectionately known as Omar; the British soul singer, songwriter and musician, same Omar, who for many, defined and redefined and continues to do so, set a UK sound in motion and consequently fans have been swaying ever since. Recipient of Best Neo Soul Act and Outstanding Achievement Awards, Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to music, talking to Omar is talking to a founder, and father of the UK’s Neo-Soul music scene, and more so how his very music inspired musicians and fans alike, his most well-known song; "There's Nothing Like This", a song of which word by word remember the feeling it gives; the memory still giving, and the essence of the interview deriving from the latter mention, in essence an interview paying homage to a true soul legend, and the UK has never been prouder whilst highlighting the significance of one of her native Sons.
What does your music mean to you?
As an artist, for me it’s all about self-expression, being into music since I was eight years old, writing songs when I was fourteen or fifteen, I was always expressive through my music and that’s the vibe I’ve always wanted others to have, the vibe I want to get across, and also to stand out…amongst the crowd, so when people hear my music they know it’s me, I’ve always strived for that, and I think I’ve pretty much succeeded.
What, whether it is passion, desire, joy, pride, what essentially drives Omar?
All of them…
Yeah, all of them, for me it’s a burning desire that keeps on expressing me the way I do, and I think that carries, meaning what I do it carries to the people who follow my music, they see I have a passion for the music that I do and when we say passion, it’s not like I’m trying to hit the heights of the charts, or you can fit me into a ‘box’, because music is a broad spectrum of sounds and rhythms and all connected in certain ways, meaning there’s so much to explore and I haven’t done exploring yet, for me it’s like trying to explore the world, to cover every corner and to keep on going just to see how far I can go.
Is there a fundamental message you want to get across with your music, or is it simply a case of yourself expressing music for simply for music sake?
It’s simply that, right there, the rhythms are there like the funk, the Jazz, classical, Latin, Soul, Reggae, all mixed up until you get the prominent sound, the dominant sound, and what you get is from a mixture of all those rhythms fused together, that’s in essence is my music, a fusion of sounds creating one sound.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Ummmhh, I can’t tell you that…