Home > Interviews > Interview: OMYO maneuver personal truths & big sounds on debut album

Interview: OMYO maneuver personal truths & big sounds on debut album

It was two years ago at a local watering hole that two eccentric creatives ⎯⎯ one studying criminology at university and working late-nights as a promoter, the other a model by day with a degree in biology and a Masters in geography ⎯⎯ would bend their elbow together. It was fate. William Edward and Tom McCorkell made a joke of it, the fact they both had great ambitions to chase the neon lights. “From that moment when we first met, we said, ‘We’ve got something here.’ We’re both dreamers, so as soon as we wrote our first song, we’re like ‘we can do it,'” recalls Edward, who acts as producer and background vocalists on all their endeavors. Awakening their splendid, but dormant, talent, they set to work on their first album, writing it mostly via WhatsApp. “Just as we got to know each other from touring and playing shows far away, we quickly realized we’ve got similar upbringings and heritages,” he continues, etching their curious destiny, intertwined through shared experiences and a like-minded sense of adventure. “We’re both from Irish families and want the same things.”

Their relationship blossomed after that, and OMYO (an acronym for “Our Music Your Opinion”) was born. “Tom’s three years younger than me, so he’s kind of like a little brother. We just look out for each other,” Edward tells B-Sides & Badlands over a recent phone call. “There are always going to be times when you don’t agree on things. We both want to succeed for each other. You put your differences aside. We’re best mates now. We think the same. I’m probably a little crazier than him,” he chuckles.

The following months proved to be monumental, as the pair founded their own record label and began seeing big returns in major TV syncs, big advertisements and even a handsome contribution from a private investor. But it’s not been without a few rocks in the road. “We’ve been through a few setbacks, but as soon as people started believing in us, we got that investment. The radio is playing us. It all started by being naive at the very beginning.”

“Days with You” was the start of something huge. The sweet Backstreet Boys-looped ballad has cultivated nearly 400,000 streams on Spotify, with another early track, the blustery house jam “Mystery Girl,” hitting 200,000. It’s their latest “Wait for You Love,” though, that fully showcases the scope of their craftsmanship, drenched in a cool, current temperature but soaking in throwback soul and anchored in their Motown roots. Manipulating a basic choral piece in GarageBand, Edward elevated the song from a sturdy Top 40-ready hit into an explosive, hymn-like anthem. “We wanted to bring in some more emotion to it. I added that into the production, and it seemed to work and really helped bring out the emotion of the song,” he says.

Centered on a “small dating thing,” the posh, sweeping track depicts the struggle to make a relationship work. “It didn’t work out and it was kind of a waste of time. It was frustrating,” Edward remembers, unfurling exactly how the song grew into the enormous moment it became. “It was during a very busy time in our lives, and to waste time in something was just annoying. Tom and I were discussing it and how we felt in the past and how our friends have been mistreated. We elaborated it into the whole song and made it about waiting for someone and investing your time more.”

Below, Edward chats candidly about what he learned from that fleeting romance, the duo’s forthcoming album (expected in late spring), mental health and a recent Warsaw writing camp.

What did you learn from that dating experience?

Probably nothing. [laughs] I never learn anything from relationships. No. You have to wait up, really, and be wise in your choices. Sometimes, it is worth the investment.

“Wait for Your Love” carries so much weight but also makes you wanna dance.

Since it was a frustrating thing, we tried to bring some fun into it, as well. It was trying to attach positivity to it, onto such a negative subject.

Is the shimmering dynamism indicative of the album? 

Our album is from our own experiences. We don’t really want to write about things we don’t know. We’ve got songs about long distance relationships and just being young, seeing someone you like and trying to figure out how to approach them. It’s a mix of love and heartbreak. We’re an independent act and trying to inspire ourselves and stay strong through difficult times when people don’t believe in you. It’s also about having fun and nights out. We’re just regular people, and we show the range of emotions a regular person would go through within a year or so. We’re trying to make music that’s relatable, and we’re not going to lie about our lifestyles. It’s also across mental health and things we’ve dealt with. We also like people to come to our shows and go on an emotional journey, but they’ll always leave in a good mood.

Why talk about mental health in your music?

As a creative person, and not saying it’s exclusive to creative people, because mental health affects everybody, you can find yourself in very dark situations, not necessarily knowing how to get yourself through it. When you find a way to move through it, we identified that we’re in a position of responsibility where we should talk about this, because there might be someone out there who feels like they’re alone. Maybe they need some help. If we’re in a position where we’re OK and happy, then, we should probably give back and try to help someone else. Men are discouraged from expressing their feelings or asking for help. Why not use our position and hopefully help people. Everyone needs help, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Is there one unreleased song you’re most excited to send out into the world?

That would be “Save Me,” which is probably going to be the lead single. It’s just powerful. We’ve really worked hard on it. It’s quite an emotive song. I was having a conversation with someone in the UK yesterday who’s quite big in music about doing a version for charity, as well. We’ll see how that project develops. Hopefully, we can do some good of it. It’s not the happiest song, but it’s an important song. It’s acoustic-driven in the first verse and with a massive chorus. It’s maybe a “Love the Way You Lie” or “Airplane” kind of sound.

Do you play with other big sounds on the record?

What we like is all the way across from soul and R&B to old big Bee Gee songs to darker pop productions nowadays, like Coldplay and OneRepublic. Everyone now seems to make very simple songs. We want to stick with the classic making of a big pop song and make you feel something. We don’t really start meaning to make them big, but we write by feeling. How we’re feeling at the time is how the song will come across.

As an independent act, how do you stay inspired?

We’ve invested so much time learning everything, from photoshop to marketing to directing our own videos to doing brand work. We don’t really know anything else now. It’s do or die. Tom and I want to support our families and make their lives more comfortable. When you take it away from yourself, then you can’t be lazy, because then it’s being selfish.

How do you find the time to do everything?

Literally, no idea. Coffee. [laughs] As soon as the new year came, it’s been meetings and projects. We’ve got tours in the UK, tours in Germany. We’re writing a new video at the moment while trying to work an older single, getting the album ready, writing with other people. We’ve just been with Universal Music writing for acts in Poland. I was learning Google Adwords the other day, too. [laughs] Not socializing is a big thing right now. At the moment, we’re out streaming major label artists who are doing the same as us. It’s nice to hopefully inspire people. We get messages to help people, and that makes you work a bit harder.

Late last year, B-Sides & Badlands did an investigative piece into the lives of independent artists and how they mount tours and book shows. What is that whole process like for you guys?

We’ve got a touring agent in the UK, and they look after a few bits. The majority of it is us ourselves. In Germany, I’ve built brand connections and radio connections, so we’ve worked to put together shows. We played out in Poland. I accidentally entered a Best Band competition, because I don’t speak Polish. And we won, so we went out there and played. In New York, I Googled “Best Venues for New Bands” and reached out to all of them. We played Pianos last year. I do research and then try to find a smart choice to move forward.

On your trip to Warsaw recently, were you producing for other acts?

We got given our own studio room. They send in an artist and say, “I want a song like this.” You have to build a song a day and produce it. It’s the first time we’ve been at a writing camp. Our laptop was broken. We were praying it wouldn’t break again, but somehow, we got through it. We’re just finishing the tracks at the moment, and hopefully, they’ll get put on these people’s albums. Fingers crossed.

Does producing for others make you think differently about your own music?

I’m not really sure. You want to cater to their story and how they feel and what they want to express. Especially if they’re on a label, they don’t get much creative freedom. You try to give them an opportunity to actually express themselves, but sometimes, you realize “oh, damn, I wish we had that song.” It make us believe in ourselves. If we can write for other artists who are being successful, then, I don’t see why our music can’t be successful, as well.

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Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.