Photo Credit: Ben Joppke
Before the year is over and done new music from Montreal’s Omayela will be here. His upcoming release, Barking Bird, came from a sad place but it’s the start of something new. Now let’s continue to get to know this rising artist as he allows us to step inside his world for a moment in time.
Kendra: When we think of hip hop and R&B, our minds don’t instantly take us to Montreal. What’s the scene up there like and did the likes of Drake open up new doors for Canadian artists in that regard?
Omayela: The hip-hop and R&B scene in Montreal is growing fast. And there are a bunch of upcoming artists that have what it takes to breakthrough. I don’t identify with the popular genres here, though. My focus is on reaching the Billboard Charts. I want to create something brand new that could simultaneously be classified as “Pop,” but I suspect that’s what a lot of Montreal artists are trying to do. It’s hard to deny that artists like Drake have been a real source of inspiration in that way…he and The Weeknd showed us that it was possible.
Kendra: What about from a personal standpoint. When did you want to go from being a fan of music to being the one who has fans?
Omayela: I started to realize I had potential in music at the age of 16, but I didn’t believe I could do it until my father (who is also a songwriter) finally cosigned one of my songs. That gave me the confidence to take it all the way.
Kendra: You started dropping music back around 2013. In six years not only has the industry changed and evolved, but I’m sure you have as well. Was there any solid advice you got then that stuck with you and helped guide you to today?
Omayela: I was given plenty of advice from my dad about the music business, and from watching interviews with my favorite artists on YouTube. But if I had to pick one piece of advice that stuck with me, it would be to always hit record when you’re making music, even when you’re tuning the instruments. You never know when the angels will grant you with a hit.
Kendra: Speaking of the past, how do you feel Barking Bird showcases your artistic growth from a year ago on your 2018 release, bbb?
Omayela: Barking Bird is the culmination of all my trials and tribulations; the result of years of hard work, and all the ups and downs I’ve had in my journey that have transformed my art into what it is today. Barking Bird is who I am as an artist…and who I aspire to be as a man. Haha! I’m kidding. It’s a project like any other…but with this project, I’m finally ready to show the world who I truly am, without following trends or riding anyone else’s wave.
Kendra: Barking Bird drops in late 2019 but right now we have a taste of what’s to come thanks to “Waste.” We know physically you were in a basement when this song came to be, but where were you mentally?
Omayela: Mentally, I was feeling a lot of sadness, and a bit of relief. I had just gotten out of a 6-year relationship that was not healthy for me, so I was getting better at reconnecting with who I am and loving myself more. It felt like a mist was slowly receding in my mind, helping me to see clearly again. That’s why “Waste” still means a lot to me.
Kendra: Will we get another single before the record drops?
Omayela: Actually, I’m putting one single out every month until one breaks through – which will hopefully coincide with the release of Barking Bird. So yes, you can expect more singles, and also some acoustic videos that I’ve been having a lot of fun with.
Kendra: What about touring? Will we see you on the road in 2020?
Omayela: I’m still working on building my audience outside of Montreal, so I will only go on a regional tour once the demand for my shows is high. I’m hoping that Barking Bird has a single that generates that kind of demand in cities like Toronto and New York. I’m still at the beginning of my journey, and I’m not ashamed of that, so I’m focusing my energy on getting more high-profile shows in Montréal at the moment. In the past, I thought I’d never feel ready to get serious about music, but something changed in the last year. I’m not sleeping on me anymore, and neither should you.