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Talent, Fate, & a Coffee Spill: Francis Karel’s Music Career on the Rise

April Cover Story by Emma Riccardi and Jacqueline O’Rourke

Musician and TikTok Singer Francis Karel sings to strangers on Omegle, and is now the MUD April Cover Star.
Photo by Sam Fisher

Our Parents always taught us to not talk to strangers, but did they ever say anything about being serenaded by a SINGING phenomenon named Francis Karel on Omegle?

Most People meet Francis Karel through an impromptu, surprise concert. We had the pleasure of meeting him over Zoom on a Friday afternoon. Every week, Francis hops on Omegle, a popular site among Gen-Z to meet people, and asks strangers his signature question, “Do you mind if I play you something?” If they say yes, it always leads to a jaw-dropping performance that ends up with millions of likes on TikTok.

Growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, singing was always a hobby for Francis. He never imagined it would become one of the most important aspects of his life, let alone his career. He began recording content for other artists before he really got his own foot in the door. Observing the creative process of the artists he worked for allowed him to tune his craft as a singer and songwriter.

At a music festival in Indonesia, a clumsy coffee spill landed Francis the opportunity of a lifetime. After bumping into a music executive’s path, the two got chatting. If you've seen Francis' TikToks, you know he's incredibly charismatic. Only he could turn spilling coffee into a window of opportunity. The executive asked Francis to forward him some of his work. 2 weeks later, he was on a plane to New York for a songwriting bootcamp.

It’s almost as if that coffee was meant to be spilled. If only my clumsy self was that lucky.

Like many of us, Francis began 2020 with ambitions. His goal was to network with other artists, grow as a creative, and get his name out there. Quarantine could have been a setback, but at the advice of his co-writer, he began posting on TikTok. With his show-stopping voice, it wasn’t long before the twenty-year-old started gaining attention.

"Their (TikTok) algorithm really changed m