Rowan Olawumi Omondi (born 2 February) is an English singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known as the bass guitarist of English pop rock band The Ark since its formation with Jimmy Kaga-Ricci and Lister Bird when they attended school together as young teenagers.
Rowan Olawumi Omondi was born on 2 February in Leicester, the son of Funmi and Peter Omondi. Omondi has one older sister, video game developer Jade Omondi, and one older brother. His family moved to Rochester, Kent, where he would later meet bandmate Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, when he was three years old. Omondi has Kenyan and Nigerian heritage; his maternal grandparents and paternal grandmother are of Yoruba descent, while his paternal grandfather is of Luo descent. Omondi and his siblings were raised in the Anglican faith, though Omondi has stated that he identifies as agnostic.
Omondi was a child musical prodigy, having mastered the cello and piano by the age of nine. Omondi then took up the bass guitar at the age of eleven, having been inspired by watching videos of bassist Victor Wooten with his father. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, Omondi also turned his hand to the classical and electric guitar, the violin, and the saxophone. Of his musical talents, Omondi has said, ‘I hate talking about it because it sounds like I’m boasting, but I guess if I’m allowed to boast about one thing, it’s this – if it’s a musical instrument, I can play it. Except the drums. I just can’t play the drums.’
Omondi attended Allhallows Primary School, where he met and became friends with future bandmate Jimmy Kaga-Ricci. Aged eleven, Omondi and Kaga-Ricci began attendance at St Thomas West Comprehensive School. They spent most of their free time making music together, citing nineties and noughties indie-rock, rock, and electronic music as their inspiration. Aged thirteen, they met Lister Bird, also a student at St Thomas West, and persuaded him to form a band with them.
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In August 2017, Omondi was revealed to be in a two-year-long relationship with London-based Sixth Form student Bliss Lai. Lai’s social media accounts quickly gained tens of thousands of followers, and Omondi has expressed criticism towards the paparazzi, media outlets, and fans of The Ark for ‘hounding her’ after the initial news story was posted, along with leaked personal photographs, in British newspaper The Sun.
Omondi has garnered media attention and acclaim for his eclectic and unusual clothing style. Vogue named him one of the ‘Top Five Most Fashionable Men in Britain’ in March 2017, praising his ‘androgynous take on grunge.’ Omondi walked the catwalk for designer fashion brand Stella McCartney as part of London Fashion Week 2016, along with several other young British musicians and actors.
Omondi is a vocal ally of the LGBTQ+ community. The Ark performed on the main stage for free at Pride in London 2015.
In an interview with Vogue, Omondi shared that he enjoys video games, boxing, and yoga in his spare time.
As of 2017, Omondi resides in London with bandmates and friends Jimmy Kaga-Ricci and Lister Bird.