Rising pop artist Délon Omrow who is of South American and Caribbean descent, was the former runner-up on Canadian Idol in 2007. Now, Délon is completing his PhD in social sciences at York University and planning the release of his debut album. TNWU recently chatted with Omrow about the album, Canadian Idol, touring plans, and what makes him nerdy.
What made you want to pursue music as well as a PhD?
I basically took my two greatest passions, the arts, and academia, and brought them together. I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive; rather, they can be synergistic. I have learned things beyond my wildest imagination while pursuing a PhD, and my goal is to bring that knowledge to the masses through the music.
How has Canadian Idol helped shape your music career for where it is today?
It helped me believe in my art form and trust my intuition with regards to artistic integrity. It was memorable, but I feel somewhat ambivalent when I look back on it today. I mean, the very first day the contestants lined up and prepped for their performances, the judges entered the room and declared that they “knew who was going to be Canada’s next idol”. I was somewhat taken aback by that statement because it proved how contrived the entire production was and how authentic artistry was somewhat compromised in favor of pre-conceived notions of who should actually win the competition. I think when such productions are contrived like this, artists miss out on the spiritual component of performing, worrying instead about the competitive nature of the show.
You’ve already worked with Alex Gaudino and Sheldon Moore, so what musician or DJ would you go crazy if you had the opportunity to work with?
There are so many incredibly talented individuals out there today. I am quite partial to Diplo and Skrillex. What they accomplished on Justin Bieber’s last album was nothing short of magical and breathtaking. Their ability to bridge two separate genres is astounding and I’d relish the opportunity to work with them one day. I’d, of course, want to integrate more of a Caribbean influence and I think the end result would be epic.
Your life and history has helped shaped the music you’ve written and performed in your career. What is the most meaningful song you’ve ever sung?
That would have to be “After Falling Down (Are We Going To Change Our Ways?)”. This song exemplifies my objective in the music industry- that is, bringing social issues to the masses via music. In the song, I pose the perennial question: after being complicit in global inequality, racism, xenophobia, patriarchy and environmental destruction, are we going to change our ways? While the song seems pessimistic, it holds promise for the future of our civilization. As morally and intellectually reflective people, we have to confront our greed and hedonism in order to effect real change.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote. When did you write it?
(laughs) Oh jeez, the first song I ever wrote would have to be an abstract sonnet about wanting to be anyone but me. In fact, that was the title: “Anyone But Me”. You see, I was very insecure in high school- perhaps because I didn’t fit into the stereotypical clichés that such institutions are known to cultivate. Suffice to say, I wasn’t very comfortable in that setting. Writing has always served as a method for me to express my fears and anxieties. I think not much has changed today.
What can you tell us about your debut album? How many songs made the cut?
My album is going to be very eclectic: I write from various perspectives. This album covers everything from patriarchy, consumerism, inequality, global injustice, lust, unconditional love, existentialism, and jealousy. I write from these perspectives because mainstream music needs a diversity of topics in order to be inclusive for people from all walks of life. In total, eleven songs made the cut. I think these songs should be given a chance because they break the conventional framework, branching out into unfamiliar terrain. I mean, it’s not every day that a pop/R&B artist sings about the consequences of colonialism, homophobia, or even consumerism. I do these things, but with musical precision, making my lyrics as breathtaking as my production. People need to feel inspired again, and I think I can inspire them.
You’re getting a PhD, have been on Canadian Idol, just released your new single ‘FEVER,’ and have an album coming out, so what’s next for you?
Well, touring is next up. I really cannot wait for the chance to start performing these songs (and some creative covers) on the road. I’m old-school in that regard. While technology has empowered us, bringing music to our fingertips, whilst conferring immediate gratification, I love the act of hitting the road and performing live for audiences.
We saw on Twitter that you celebrated National Wine Day! What’s your favorite wine to drink?
Ahh, that would have to be a Pinot Grigio/Riesling blend. Inniskillin features such a blend and it is fantastic. It’s also very sophisticated and hey, the ladies love it (laughs) .
Do you have a favorite venue to play at (in Canada)?
I haven’t performed across the country but with respect to Toronto, I would have to say that The MOD Club is my favorite venue: it’s so intimate and the acoustics lend themselves to the sound, and overall tone, of my songs. I recommend everyone go there at least once; they will not be disappointed.
You have a great style and sound, where do you get your inspiration from?
The great legends of the industry: Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Prince and so many more have inspired me to write and produce this album. Their respect for showmanship and theatricality is missing today and I really want to bring it back for this generation.
Our side is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so what do you “nerd out” about?
What do I not “nerd out” about would be a more appropriate question (laughs). Many people don’t know this about me, but I have a huge action-figure and card collection: pretty much anything Marvel and DC. For example, when Bryan Singer’s first X-men film came out in 2000, I bought the entire toy line and each figurine is still in their respective box! I never opened them. I have over 200 action figurines untouched. Now beat that, fellow nerds (laughs).