Small Artist Spotlight Series: Tayo Omisore

Photographer Melani B. created Tayo Omisore’s album cover art, pictured here. 

Gillian Stawiszynski

The idea of this small artist spotlight series is to bring light to artists of all genres in Kentucky, and occasionally beyond, who make amazing music, but don’t get the recognition that they deserve. 

Tayo Omisore, a flourishing 24-year-old DC artist, originally from Baltimore, said he discovered his heart’s spark for music because he was “ultra-competitive for no reason.”

Omisore was constantly compared to his godfather, who was a few years older than him. After seeing his godfather in the state choir, at eight years old, his competitive soul ushered him to begin making music. Quickly, that initial reason for going into choir became inconsequential. 

Omisore’s mother worked long hours. Instead of summer camp, he was dropped off at the library at 9 a.m. and picked up at 9 p.m., so he instantly fell in love with literature and listening to music. The first album that Omisore ever owned was Kanye West’s Graduation. He’d play it a lot at the library, but one Christmas, he received his own C.D. player and Kanye’s next album, 808s & Heartbreak

He would  close the door to his bedroom and listen to it on repeat, completely mesmerized. 

“I understood those emotions as these songs are causing these magnificent music videos and colors in my head, I just wanted to listen to them over and over and over again,” Omisore said. 

When starting music, it’s difficult to dive right in, but Omisore figured out his own way around that. He took bits and pieces from every artist he loves, from Bill Withers to Pharrell to Nelly and asked himself, “Why do I listen to this type of stuff?” 

 “I got to translate that feeling into a song of my own,” he thought. “I wanna make my version of all my favorite songs.” 

So, he began breaking down songs that he loves into the interworking elements that create them and making them his own. 

Some of Omisore’s inspirations include author John Breen, Barack Obama, Donald Glover, essayist, poet and cultural critic Hanif Abburraqid, and his father. 

“Whatever I want to do, I’m going to do it well,” said Omisore. “My dad told me that and he’s obviously a big inspiration in my life, coming over from Nigeria to here when he was 18. If you do something well, no one can say anything.” 

This mindset boosted him beyond the late-stage capitalism version of Instagram, the version of Instagram that no longer allows for an intimate audience as he said.

“It’s a whole new world, more transactional,” he said. “What exactly do creators want from a fan base? Not everybody wants to be Donald Glover, having millions of likes. What I want is 100,000 likes, but when I put things out, everyone engages with it.” 

Since he is seeking connections rather than numbers, the cost of being on the Internet is something Omisore considers a challenge in pursuing his passion. 

“The issue is not so much that social media exists, it’s the fact that we can just not help ourselves but to over prioritize the information we get about people from there,.” he said. 

Your sense of self is distorted through sharing only what you want to be shown, leaving so much left out of that reality, he added.  

“My sister, Kemi, said, ‘If i just knew you by your Instagram, I would think all you do is wear good clothes and like clothes.’” 

 To that understanding of social media, Omisore responded with a quote from Moses Sumney: “I respect my right to multiplicity, I respect my right to be multiple.” 

Omisore recently released a new project with two songs, titled “Connie, Life is Great,” which are the names of his new songs, respectively. Having done all the production on Life is Great, it is his favorite song he’s made recently. He describes these songs as sad bops conveying a feeling comparative to Self Control or Nights by Frank Ocean. Piano chords alongside synth beats create something hype, yet so fluid that you could either play it at a party over the big speakers or while driving home after an emotional day.  

“From start to finish it felt like something that people will like, not just people who know me,” Omisore said. 

Connie is an upbeat song that goes through the thought process of a person putting energy into a romantic interest and that situation not working out. This song feeds right into the way recent generations have had romance socialized to them through movies and music, and so is relatable to everyone, as we have all had dynamic, dramatic experiences like these. 

Connie does not exist,” Omisore said. “In no way shape or form is she a real person, but she is a collection of emotions. I was binge watching Steven Universe when I was writing those songs, and my Tumblr was full of fanart of her, and I was like, I’m just gonna name her Connie.”

You can listen to Tayo Omisore on Spotify for his incredibly catchy and unique sound, and follow him on Instagram at @thatstayo for covers, release updates, and beautiful photography.