Most songwriters spend their entire professional lives trying to achieve a run of hits as remarkable as what Omer Fedi and his friends have managed to do in the past six months. But for 21-year-old Fedi, who just started making big waves in the music industry last year, he’s only at the beginning of his career.
The Israel-born, Los Angeles-based guitarist, producer and songwriter scored a trio of smashes late in 2020 and into 2021, including co-writing/co-producing 24kGoldn and Iann Dior’s massive “Mood” (which is on the cusp of passing a billion streams on Spotify this month), co-writing and co-producing The Kid LAROI’s “Without You” (which just cracked the top 10 this week on both alternative and pop radio charts, per Mediabase), and co-writing and co-producing last week’s No. 1 song in America, Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
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Unlike many new songwriters, Fedi didn’t take a traditional path to success, which usually involves slogging through hundreds of songwriting sessions in order to catch a lucky break and slide into the upper echelons of the charts after landing a big cut with a known artist. In fact, Fedi is against the very idea of strangers teaming in a studio to write for a top-tier star.
“I don’t understand how you can make music with someone that isn’t your friend, or someone random,” he says via Zoom from New York, where he recently had some business to attend to. “If you don’t vibe together as a human, even if both of you are incredible musicians, you just can’t make good music.”
That’s not to say that Fedi’s publisher, Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), hasn’t tried to get him into writing sessions, but he was adamant that his was a better way forward as a songwriter from the start.
“They tried at the beginning, and I love my publisher, but I was, like, ‘No, I’ll just work with my friends, thank you.’”
Fortunately for all parties involved, that strategy has worked out well. Fedi’s crew includes 24KGoldn (he executive produced 24KGoldn’s new album, “El Dorado,” and co-wrote/co-produced nearly every song on it), fellow UMPG writer Blake Slatkin (with whom he worked on both “Mood” and “Without You”), and producer Keegan Bach (aka K-Beazy).
“I just like to create a vibe and just rock ‘n’ roll,” says the modest musician, who almost acts as his own A&R — taking pride in finding talent early and developing acts before they become big.
Case in point: 24KGoldn, whose “Mood” hinges on a guitar riff of Fedi’s creation — as the foundation and melody.
As Fedi recalls: “Me and my boy K-Beazy, when we made the track, we were, like, ‘Let’s do some early 2000s stuff, but if it was fast. … If you listen to most pop music, the best riffs kind of stop during the song, so you don’t get tired of it, but for ‘Mood’ I was, like, ‘It’s gotta [continue] throughout the whole song. … I felt like it was gonna work.”
Fedi’s influences are rooted in rock music. He cites Jimi Hendrix as an early inspiration growing up in Israel, where his father, Asher Fedi, is known in rock circles as an accomplished drummer.
“All my favorite bands and guitar players are people that make the catchiest riffs, like Jimmy Page, [Red Hot Chili Peppers’] John Frusciante, the Strokes, stuff like that,” he says.
Both the young musician and his father (along with the entire family) moved to Los Angeles around five years ago from Tel Aviv to give Fedi, who displayed prodigious talent at guitar from an early age, a better shot at success.
“In Israel, there’s kind of a ceiling as to how far you can go in music, but nothing here can stop me,” he says with conviction.
Fedi’s first break came via meeting connected songwriter Sam Hook while he was still in school at Calabasas High.
“Sam helped me a lot, I used to finish school and go straight to his house and make music,” he says. “He was like the first guy to tell me, ‘You’re not just a guitar player; you gotta produce and write songs.’ I didn’t know anything about the industry at the time, but then he told me about Andrew Watt and people like that.”
Soon after, Fedi began to gain confidence in his musical — and production — skills, while also getting a feel for what his generation wanted to hear.
Fedi was early in spotting Australia’s The Kid LAROI, and he immediately put his newfound confidence hustle to the test, writing him directly via social media.
Says Fedi: “I heard him on Soundcloud one day and he had this song ‘Blessings’ that he released when he was 14, and I DM’d him, and he didn’t even have a lot of followers back then, and neither did I, so I didn’t hear back at first.”
But they eventually got in touch, and the two started making music together as soon as the Australian artist landed in Los Angeles.
“He literally just got to the U.S. and we made this song ‘Go’ when we first met,” he adds. They became fast friends and continued to write together, eventually creating what is now the global smash “Without You,” which is nearing 1.5 million song project units since its November 2020 release, per Alpha Data.
“He’s one of my closest friends and to see this song we did together blow up is incredible,” Fedi enthuses. “It’s always fun when you believe in someone and then you see that other people gravitate towards him too and say, ‘Yeah, his music is good.’ All his songs before [were] more urban driven, and then we dropped a song that’s just super bare minimum acoustic guitar, and it’s great because we are both big Nirvana fans.”
And while Fedi prefers to work with new artists that he finds on his own before they blow up (“I never wanted a song with an A-list pop star, I wanted to find the new kid that I believe will be the next A-list star and then make a song with them” he says), he made an exception for Lil Nas X.
“I started to catch a little wave at Columbia Records because both Kid LAROI and 24KGoldn are signed there [24kGoldn through RECORDS, a joint venture with Sony Music], so [Columbia chairman and CEO] Ron Perry was hearing my demos and he loved what I was doing, so we started talking and he was the one who put me in with Nas,” Fedi says of how he came to co-write “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
“I love Ron and I think he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, so when he tells me something, I listen to him,” he adds.
Fedi and Lil Nas X clicked instantly. “The second we met, we were just, like, best friends and started hanging out,” he says. “I went to his AirBnb every day and we were just making music and watching movies. I’m always a big fan of artists like Nas that you can never know how their next single is gonna sound like. I like challenges.”
One has to wonder whether the charismatic multi-instrumentalist Fedi is considering an artist career for himself? Not at the moment, he insists. “I’m more of a behind-the-scenes guy, and I’m not even close to reaching my [songwriting] goals,” he says. “My friends push me to be better every day and I want to help them be the greatest artists of all time. I’m simply along to be a part of the journey.”
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