Omar Lye-Fook started his career in 1985 and went on to release a number of singles including 1988’s ‘You and Me’ which featured backing vocals from Caron Wheeler. His big breakthrough came with his instantly recognisable 1991 hit ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ which gave him worldwide recognition. It’s fair to say, in terms of soul circles the man is a bit of a legend.
He has just released his seventh album, ‘The Man’ and it’s a blinder. Steve Aston caught up with the man himself to talk about his new release, working with Stevie Wonder and how it feels to receive an MBE…
Hi Omar, how are you doing?
I’m very good thanks. I’m just driving through South London, Croydon to be precise.
Not far from my old gaff then! You’re just about to release your seventh studio album The Man on Freestyle Records. What is the concept behind this album?
Well it’s a collection of songs that’s build up over the last 7 years. I haven’t been about since 2006. There is no concept behind it really, I just keep writing songs and this is the end result. Fans kept asking me when I’d be back and releasing more stuff which pushed me along. It’s a great collection of songs; it’s up there with the best I’ve done.
What do you feel is different about this album from any of your others?
Not that much to be honest. There are a lot of similarities on the way it was written and recorded. The songs are all based on acoustics, drums, bass, keys and guitars. It’s the same staple for all my music. I think the timing was just right too. The climate is good, there is a lot of synthetic pop out there, not that that is a bad thing there has been some good music that has come out of that but I think we need to get back to basics and that’s where this comes in.
What is your favourite song on the new album?
Nah!! I can’t do that. It’s like asking me to choose between my children. I love them all the same!
Ha! Fair enough. So with the way music is selling nowadays has your approach to making music changed differently to when you first started?
I have pretty much the same approach as to when I first started all those years ago and it’s pretty much stayed the same. There are no Reel to Reel tapes anymore which is the main change but with technology it means it’s a lot easier and you can carry your sounds around with you easier. Overall though I’ve not changed much – I’m quite stubborn over that! I like to keep things organic.
On your previous album you collaborated with Stevie Wonder, what was that experience like? If you could collaborate with any other artist, who would that be?
Stevie is my boy! That was obviously amazing, to get asked to work with Stevie Wonder. If I could work with any others it would be Bill Withers, Bobby Womack probably. The legends. Any of the idols from back in the day I’d work with.
Where do you rank receiving an MBE in your achievements?
Yeah – It’s got to be up there. That and working with Stevie have got to be two of the high points. We had a massive party when I was informed I was on the list. What a night.
We have a radio show that goes out this Thursday; would you like to select a couple of songs for us to play?
Ok, cool. ‘Stop Before we Make Love’ off the new album. It’s got a less explicit version which you can use on air (fuck that Omar, we play what we want!) also Bobby Womack, ‘A Woman Gotta Have it.
Great tune. So whats next for Omar?
Well the album is out so it’s playing live. I’ve got the Magic FM festival in Guildford and I’m actually off to France tomorrow for some festivals too.
Nice, is there anything else you would like to say?
I’m actually doing a bit of acting also. I’ve had a performance written for me, called love song. It’s done by an incredibly talented man, Shane Walker. Keep an eye out for that.
We will mate. Cheers, nice one Omar.
You too! Take it easy, it’s been a pleasure.