Room

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "Fuck Resident Advisor" T-Shirt

Cotton and plastisol ink

The global electronic music community generally doesn’t have the aggression, beefs, or artist on artist call-outs you see in a genre like hip-hop. So when Omar S announced an EP entitled Simply (Fuck Resident Advisor) in May 2020, the community didn’t quite know how to react.

The music website Resident Advisor covered the record announcement as a news item, and fans around the world simultaneously cheered at the title, and wondered about its origin as did music media. The response to these inquiries from Omar S? No words, but instead a run of t-shirts emblazoned with “Fuck Resident Advisor” and a follow-up EP called ‘Still Fucking Resident Advisor’.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), Tripolar Dev Team, Disrupted Studios, Record Packer

Windows, iOS, and Android Application

Following in the footsteps of Prince, Michael Jackson, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and Hudson Mohawke, Omar S has created his own video game to be released in December 2020.

The game chronicles the trials and tribulations of a successful vinyl record label as an 8-bit Omar S works to box and ship vinyl as efficiently as he can – a gameplay experience that may feel very relatable to musicians and label owners in 2020.

Coming to mobile devices and web browsers soon. More info TBA.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "Ice Trays - $5.00 stay cool in the summer heat"!

Polypropylene

Despite the lower prices and intimacy of ordering direct from the FXHE website, not all fans know that you could order direct or of some of the site’s more obscure offerings. Omar S rewards those who take the time to peruse all it has to offer, with the ’Misc’ tab hosting a unique and unexpected product — ice trays.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "Annoying Mumbling Alkaholik"

Polyvinyl chloride, paper, adhesive, and cardboard

Detroit’s DJ culture is distinctly removed from the drug and alcohol-fueled hedonism found in the European scene, though the exact reason for this is elusive. Many first- and second-wave Detroit DJs are teetotalers, don’t drink while performing, or rarely imbibe in or out of the booth. However, song titles such as “Annoying Mumbling Alkaholik” from Smith’s EP of the same name are a clue that the artist may have a different point of view than his peers.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), FXHE Records

Pioneer / Fisher, Stereo Receiver Model SX636 / ST-830 Hi-Fi Speaker System
Mixed

Avid fans will recognize this specific hi-fi system as the source of song premieres on Omar S’ recently-launched Instagram page. One can’t help but wonder if this system is used for close, clinical listening, or to just casually throw on some records.

 

FXHE Records, Discography
Mixed

With over 125 titles, Omar S’ FXHE Records (pronounced akin to “sexy”, with an “f”) and its prolific release schedule has accounted for a high percentage of Detroit’s musical exports over the past 18 years. When the artist’s releases first reached record store shelves, they stood out not only musically but visually as well. Initially starting as white labels with handwritten or hand-stamped labels, the label’s artwork evolved into what appears to be found images from video games, films, and home photos laid out in a manner that looks more like an assemblage of xeroxed photos than a polished Photoshop output.

Music journalists have poked fun at the artwork over the years, but few have offered overt criticism. When asked in a Juno Plus interview in 2013, the artist responded with his trademark Detroit practicality; “Artwork is not important here, who looks at artwork on the dance floor you know? Only a momma’s boy cares about artwork!!”

 

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), WFXHE Radio Show
320 KBPS Moving Picture Experts Group Layer-3 Digital Files

For two years, Omar S took over the airwaves of Red Bull’s online radio station with a flagship titled ‘WFXHE’. In the two years the show was on air, it was described as “veer[ing] forwards and backwards through time, from hardcore gangster rap to early Funkadelic, ’50s and ’60s R&B to future-proofed club music”.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "Three Blind Rats"

Mixed, Arcade Cabinet and Video Game Console Collection

Plywood, tempered glass, cesium alloy, zinc sulfide, silver, cadmium sulfide, lead oxide, graphite, copper foil, epoxy laminate, stainless steel, aluminum, nickel, tin, molded plastic, adhesive, and paint

Omar S’ love of video games is quite clear. Song titles like “Flying Gorgars” and “Strider’s World” reference pinball and arcade consoles, while artwork for releases like ‘Just Ask the Lonely’, and ‘006’ show the artist playing a custom console and feature artwork pulled right from the screen. His personal collection of video games is seemingly as deep as his vinyl collection, with more vintage arcade cabinets and arcade consoles you can count on two hands, and seemingly every game console including cult classics like the Magnavox Odyssey and Neo Geo.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), Conant Gardens Party Store Interior (Present Day)

Mixed

One of the less glamorous aspects of running a successful record label with a deep catalog is the physical space it takes to warehouse vinyl records before they are shipped to distributors, stores, and customers around the world. Today the former Conant Gardens Party Store location serves as the warehouse for FXHE’s physical products, as well as the artist’s recording studio.

Red Bull, Gives You Wings

Caffeine, Taurine, B-group Vitamins, Sugars
Vitalizes Body and Mind. Follow the link HERE to learn more about how Red Bull gives you wings.

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "Motor-City-Jackpot!!"

Polyvinyl chloride, paper, adhesive, and cardboard

 

 

Barry Oursler, Williams Electronics, and Alex O. Smith (Omar S), Gorgar Pinball Machine (Modified)

Plywood, tempered glass, copper foil, epoxy laminate, stainless steel, aluminum, nickel, tin, molded plastic, rubber, adhesive, and paint

Gorgar has a place in pinball history, and a place in FXHE history. As the first game to feature speech-synthesis (“talking”), it was considered cutting edge when it launched in 1979, and is still ranked as one of the best pinball games of all time.

Omar S’ track “Flying Gorgars”, from his 2009 single ‘Still Serious Nic’ is perhaps the epitome of the artist’s unique blend of house and techno. Hypnotic but heavy, groovy but grinding, it effortlessly mixes the two genres without specifically being either. The game is clearly one of his favorites: in addition to naming a song for it, he customized his own Gorgar machine upgrading the speakers for enhanced sound.

Casio, PCR-202 and Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "Promo Mix (2005)"

Casio, PCR-202

Polycarbonate plastic, steel, aluminum, acrylic, lead oxide, graphite, copper foil, epoxy laminate, stainless steel, aluminum, nickel, tin, adhesive, and paint.

Detroit’s electronic music scene is fiercely independent, with many artists owning their own imprints and labels or even going straight to their fans with direct distribution and sales. Like many others in the city, Omar S has done the same – taking his own unique approach amidst technological and industry shifts.

He’s sold digital downloads direct to customers through his bare bones, no-nonsense website, and only years later offered music to traditional digital download and streaming services – albeit weeks or months after releasing on his own site.

2020 sees the launch of FXHE Records on the artist friendly Bandcamp platform, and while it currently hosts a selection of the FXHE catalog, the artist’s history of approaching things differently has many wondering what is yet to come.


Alex O. Smith (Omar S), Promo Mix (2005)

Polycarbonate plastic, aluminum, acrylic and permanent ink

The impact of mixtapes and mix CDs on the proliferation of hip-hop music and its evolution over time has been discussed at great length, in settings both casual and academic. Electronic music spread and adapted in the same way, with studio mixes and recordings from clubs, raves, and radio appearances being sold or traded nationally and internationally.

Omar S’ own mix CDs were instrumental in establishing his skills worldwide as a heavyweight house music DJ, his mix 2005 mix, simply titled ‘Promo Mix 2005’ is a particularly noteworthy example.

Digital downloads direct to customers

Traditional digital download

Streaming Services

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "In Side My Head"

Polyvinyl chloride, paper, adhesive, and cardboard

While he often prefers privacy in his personal and professional life, the music of Omar S is a window into the mind of a sharp, funny, and dedicated artist. His vast musical knowledge is evident in the tracks that he produces and the mixes that he curates, and he is more than willing to share that knowledge through his work.

At his CGPS pop-ups over throughout summer 2020, Omar could often be found by the record tent, flanked by displays of FXHE releases and crates of records from his own personal collection. When people came up to check it out, he would immediately ask them what kind of music they were into, and would proceed to hand-select recommendations for them on the spot. For fans of his music, especially those that were musicians themselves, this was a special opportunity for them to pick the brain of one of Detroit’s local legends, and perhaps an inspiration to try to pay it forward in the future.

Mixed, DVD Collection

Polycarbonate, aluminum, acrylic, ink, polypropylene, polyethylene, and paper

Much like games, film is a frequent influence for Omar S with numerous songs named after (primarily 1980’s) cult classics; “Blade Runner“, “Skynet 2 B” (Terminator), and “Romancing the Stone” are just a few of many references.

Mixed, VHS Collection

Polycarbonate, aluminum, acrylic, ink, polypropylene, polyethylene, and paper

Much like games, film is a frequent influence for Omar S with numerous songs named after (primarily 1980’s) cult classics; “Blade Runner“, “Skynet 2 B” (Terminator), and “Romancing the Stone” are just a few of many references.

Panasonic, WV-1400F

Ground glass, steel, plastic, aluminum, acrylic, lead oxide, graphite, copper foil, epoxy laminate, stainless steel, aluminum, nickel, tin, rubber.

Catch a live DJ set from the Conant Gardens Party Store Pop-Up this Saturday November 14, from 3PM to 6PM EST.

Omar S

Alex O. Smith (Omar S), "I Wanna Know"

Omar S: Conant Gardens Party Store - Events

Saturday, October 31, 3-6pm: Conant Gardens Party Store Pop Up (Weekend 1)
Saturday, November 14, 3-6pm: Conant Gardens Party Store Pop Up (Weekend 2)
Saturday, December 19, 3-6pm: Conant Gardens Party Store Pop Up (Weekend 3)
Red Bull Arts Detroit, 1551 Winder St, Detroit, MI 48207

Experience the Conant Gardens’ Party Store with DJ sets, arcade games and exclusive merch from Omar S & FXHE records.
RSVP HERE to attend the FXHE Records Pop-Up Shop at Red Bull Arts Detroit!
Tune in to the Pop-Up Shop livestreams on the FXHE Records Twitch channel.


Sunday, November 15, 730PM - 10PM EST: Omar S Drive In
Ford Drive In Theater, 10400 Ford Rd, Dearborn, MI 48126

Showcasing his passion for cult films and close connection to the Detroit car community, Omar S takes over the Ford Drive In Theater with a live DJ Set and special screening of a film from his collection - Brewster's Millions (1985) set amongst a bevy of vehicles from the Detroit hot rod community.
Buy your tickets HERE today!


Friday, December 4th, 3PM - 5PM EST: Detroit DIY Roundtable hosted by Ash Lauryn
Virtual Party Store

With so much of the country's music industry historically located in NYC and Los Angeles, Detroit musicians have always had the challenge and freedom to find their own path. The need to be resourceful and work outside the existing structure, Detroit's music ecosystem is largely defined by the drive to "do it yourself" from pop soul powerhouse Motown, to eccentric jazz outpost Tribe, to America's favorite clown rappers Insane Clown Posse. This roundtable contextualizes Detroit's DIY ethos of past, present, and future in a discussion with the city's most interesting electronic music label heads.


Notes & Reminders:

To attend the Conant Gardens Party Store Pop-Up at Red Bull Arts, an RSVP is mandatory and the space will be under an extremely limited capacity to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the building.