We caught up with 'Cheerleader' OMI


We caught up with ‘Cheerleader’ OMI

He gave us the song of summer and now he has big plans that might involve Meghan Trainor

By Deepa Menon  September 15th, 2015

If you’ve been anywhere near a club these past few months, you’ve probably heard ‘Cheerleader’. It’s the tune you woke up humming the next morning and couldn’t figure out where it came from. It popped into OMI’s head just as suddenly one morning in his 20s. It became the most popular song in this Jamaican singer’s repertoire. In an interview with ELLE, OMI (born Omar Samuel Pasley) said, “’Cheerleader’ took off in Hawaii, where I was getting a larger sense of the song’s ‘stickiness’ whenever I performed it live. We always wanted to stay true to the essence of the song… a constant warm sunshine-playful vibe, and we did. Felix Jaehn’s 2014 remix added to the combustible nature of the track, I loved the mix even before it took off.” It also helped that he’d been green-signalled by American hip-hop producer Salaam Remi, who’s worked with Amy Winehouse and Fergie, and has an imprint with Sony Music. 

Recently, Billboard named ‘Cheerleader’ the No. 1 song of summer, a spot held by Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy’ (2014) and Carly Rae Jepsen’s  ‘Call Me Maybe’ (2012). OMI’s is a nice mellow tune and romantic to boot. He names his father as a big musical influence. “He died when I was 9, but whatever he did just stuck with me. He was very much in love with my mom, and he had a very good way of expressing himself musically, you could hear the soul when he sang.”

The remix version leaves in plenty of soulful sax making this a love song you can twerk to. OMI’s tried to keep it as close to its Jamaican roots as possible, but if you’re expecting his next few songs to be in the same beach-party mode, not going to happen. He said of the kind of music he’s hoping to make, “People are expecting 15 versions of ‘Cheerleader,’ but it’s going to be pretty diverse. There is no pressure to write, there is pressure to release. So the pressure’s not on me; it’s mostly on management and the label.”

It’s not official yet, but the singer has expressed a desire to record with Meghan Trainor. “I have a huge appreciation for her music and her whole vibe, she’s a really sweet person, and I think there would be a certain type of magic, creating a single.” 

While we wait for his debut album, Me 4 U (Sony Music), to release on October 16 listen to his latest single, ‘Hula Hoop’: