Custom Search 1

Omar: Three decades deep and going strong


HE’S BEEN in the music business for over three decades, had endorsements from some legends in the game but far from winding down his career Omar tells The Voice's Life & Style that things are in their ascendency.

Sitting in Omar’s studio the There’s Nothing Like This star seems just as enthused about releasing his latest project Love In Beats as he’s ever been about music. He explains that some of the work his fans will find on Love In Beats has been sitting on his computer for years.

“Love In Beats is my eighth studio album and it took me two years to do,” said Omar. He added:

“It’s co-produced between myself and my brother, the Scratch professor. And it’s hard in terms of beats, which is why I called it Love In Beats.

“My stuff is a lot of jazz, funk, rare groove, with classic reggae, Latin influence but this one has definitely got harder beats because my brother just knows how to kick out those Hip-Hop beats, he was influenced by J Dilla, which you will hear on the album.

“It’s a nice eclectic mix of tunes which I hope fans will enjoy.”

The new album is evidence on how well he is respected by both new and established talent. Love In Beats features Blue Note’s much revered, Grammy-winning Robert Glasper as well as the legendary Motown producer Leon Ware, co-producer of Marvin Gaye’s classic I Want You album. It also features a whole spectrum of emerging names such as Jean-Michele Rotin, UK soulstress Natasha Watts, The Floacist and Mayra Andrade, who Omar is keen to champion and bring to the fore.

“It wasn’t until I was putting the album together that I realised that I had so many features on it,” he reflected.

“It started off with the first track which is called Vicky’s Tune. I’ve got TY who is rapping on it and I’ve got Robert Glasper who is playing some keys.

“I actually started writing this song in 2003 when I built the studio we are in now. I put it to the side and I think I did two more albums after that and then rediscovered it a couple of years ago and decided I could do something with it.

“I always kept bumping into Robert Glasper in different places around the world and we’d always said we would work together. So the last time I saw him I told him I needed him to get on this project. It still took me about a year to get it done the man is so busy and so popular and rightfully so because he is an amazing musician.

“When he finally sent me the piano piece, he asked if I liked it and I said yes without even hearing it, I was that happy that he’d sent it to me. Of course when I laid it down over the track it was perfect.

“All of the people on this album were meant to be there.”

RECOGNITION: Omar (centre) after collecting his MBE in 2013 with parents Sonia, left and Byron
Omar says he’s looking forward to touring the new album throughout this year and is excited about the prospect of further etching his name into the annals of history where music is concerned in this country. Already a household favourite among an older generation of music fans the south Londoner says the Internet is keeping him relevant as the years toll on.

“I am getting busier. Because the industry has changed since the advance of the internet, it’s all about downloads instead of CDs and that is good for me because before that people couldn’t get hold of my music.

“It would only be the main TV and radio stations that would be controlling the output of the music people can listen to whereas now, people can listen to what they want when they want. That’s helped me because a lot of my income comes from doing shows, so right now things work perfectly.”

Gone are the days when Omar would pack up a van, hit the road with a load of white labels to sell in order to create his buzz, now, that happens online. It’s been 25 years this year since Omar hit the top 20 UK charts back in 1991 with his hit There’s Nothing Like This, asked if he felt he could have been a bigger, more globally recognised artist at this stage of his career having been in the game officially for 33 years or whether he had another track in him that could emulate the success of There’s Nothing Like This, Omar said forthrightly:

“No, (I don’t think I could have been bigger) not really. I wouldn’t change anything for the world, because that’s what made me the person that I am.

“It’s given me the experiences that I have been through and it’s made me make the music that I’ve made.” He added:

“There have been so many (tracks like) There’s Nothing Like This, since I dropped it.

“The fact that they didn’t get to the top ten or top twenty means xxxx-all to me. These are the tracks that people stop me on the street for, that they come to the shows for.

“I have a tune called Tell Me, and every time I sing that it gets a bigger reception than There's Nothing Like This, especially in the black dances. Right there is your other There’s Nothing Like This, it doesn’t sound like it but it's a tune that does it. There’s Little Boy, there’s Outside, there’s Sing If You Want It .

“So if you mean it in that sense, there is plenty more There’s Nothing Like This.”

Watch the full interview here.

Omar releases ‘Love In Beats’ on January 27.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.