By Graham Driscoll.
Omer Cordell. You may not recognize the name, but there’s a good chance that you are already familiar with his work.
But, take a closer look at the linear notes of some of the albums you probably own – Fear Factory, Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad, the list goes on – hidden among the linear notes, you will find a “Thank-you” or a “Photo Credit” to Omer Cordell.
Omer’s start in the music industry wasn’t behind an instrument or a microphone, it was behind the camera, tasked with capturing bands on film.
But, despite his immense passion for the visual arts, Omer always felt that there was an element missing from his life as he was photographing these musicians doing something he himself had always dreamt of doing; being a musician.
“I remember falling in love with music at the age of 9.” Omer says, “My family was living in Chile at the time and my sister brought home an album that quite literally, changed my life and ignited the fire of music within me forever”.
The album that was “Power Windows”, by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s RUSH.
“I started air drumming to it non-stop. It was such a powerful experience for me at the time. I literally could not stop listening to that record,” he says “My sister played it in her room across from mine, and when she wasn’t, I would play the cassette in my Walkman back and forth for hours, air drum and air bass to all the songs.” And while that may be his first memory of music, it was apparent that the seed had been sown even earlier than that. “I’ve also recently learned that I actually started to drum on pots and pans as early as 3”, he laughs.
By age 13, he purchased his first drum set and over the next 10 years, he devoted himself to learning different styles and genres of music, doing what every child does, emulating himself after his heroes, while adding his own style.
Eventually, life circumstances forced Omer to stop playing entirely and this is where his photography career began to take form.
Fast forward to 2007, and Omer found himself working with the Danish band Mnemic. As a thank-you for all of his work, bassist Tomas “Obeast” Koefoed gave him one of his personal bass guitars. Little did Omer know, this event would change the course of his life in a profound way.
“The funny thing is, that even though I spent years playing and devoting myself to being a drummer, I always loved the bass guitar,” he says. ” Every single chance I had be it at a music store or if we would jam with a bassist on a rare occasion, I would pick up the bass and just doodle. I really loved how it felt and how it resonated with me. I was always very impressed when I would jam with a good bassist and I’d just sit there at rehearsal and be immersed by the vibrations of the bass. So when Tomas handed me that bass I was thrilled on many levels!”
Still, even though he now possessed a bass, it was a while before his passion for it was fully ignited. “I was living in Toronto at the time and then decided to move back home to Vancouver a few months after Tomas gave me that bass and even though I had the instrument that I always loved, I didn’t quite sit down and let myself be immersed by it completely. I probably played a total of 2 hours in 3 years.”
Then, in October 2010, the spark became a flame. “I was sitting at home watching a RUSH documentary and it hit me like lightning,” he says. ”I was so inspired by their story of how their band formed and the reasons behind why they became musicians that then and there I decided to start playing music again.”
The obvious choice would have been drums, however, living in an apartment posed its own challenges. Suddenly, Cordell remembered Koefoed’s bass. He cracked the case open and there laid the answer to what he was looking for.
“I picked it up, put a fresh set of strings on and the rest, as they say, is history”, he says. “I felt the most profound connection to this instrument it wouldn’t do it justice for me to try and explain. It’s as though a grand circle of my life was now complete and I was brought back to 1985 and the bass line at the end of the song “Territories”.
Soon, Cordell found himself fully immersed into the world of music . “I played obsessively, every free moment I had, often staying up until 3am just to practice,” he says. “In one year time, I went from having no clue about what I was doing, to owning 3 basses, 2 amplifiers and a plethora of effects. To say this is an obsession would be an understatement.”
Of course, his new found musical obsession required an outlet and that came in the form of his project dubbed “Trailight”, which began in 2011. The entire project was a labour of love as Cordell composed and played all of the instruments and funded the project entirely out of his own pockets. The final result, a self-titled debut album, was released to the masses on November 19, 2013.
In late 2014, Cordell is planning to release another album in under the Trailight moniker in titled "The Primitive Mountain" with guest appearances by Ryan Van Poederooyen of the Devin Townsend Band, Jed Simon formerly of Strapping Young Lad, currently of Scar The Martyr and Marc Dixon vocalist of The Virginia based band The Shallowz.