Omar Apollo Is Taking Flight
Omar Apollo’s serenading vocals layered over a funky psychedelic beat are the musical additives to the 23-year-old’s newest single, “Stayback.” From his forthcoming debut album, the Mexican-American artist continuously teeters between 70’s reminiscent melodies to classic hip hop rundowns.
Apollo’s next longform project follows the release of “Stayback” which the genre fluid artist has identified as the song that he has been wanting to make throughout his entire early career in music. The music video for “Stayback” is a wild visual storytelling that results in Omar Apollo being soaked in his negative emotions over a breakup and fashionably trapped at a motel setting where he regretfully parties his entire night away.
The audibly isolated performer behind “Erase” will undoubtedly take advantage of his chameleone-like capabilities to transform himself from sorrowful lone serenader to coolheaded funk icon. Kenny Beats and Dominic Fike have contributed to one of Omar Apollo’s most popular singles, “Hit Me Up,” so they are promising contenders for being a part of Apollo’s highly-anticipated record. Although, Omar Apollo primarily relies on his own sultry sounds and songwriting to connect with his Gen Z exuberant fanbase.
In an NME interview, Apollo described his music-making process as spiritual, which shows through his transformative sound that is capable of surpassing the boundaries of rhythm and blues. Raised by immigrant parents from Guadalajara, Mexico, Omar Velasco took on the stage name “Omar Apollo” in reference to the spacey melancholic sounds that persist throughout the Indiana-born musician’s artistry. Following his previous EPs Friends and Stereos, Omar Apollo’s next body-of-work is untitled for now until the songwriter announces the release date of his debut album.
Read further to hear how Latin artist, Omar Apollo is preparing for the release of his first album in the wake of a global pandemic and sociopolitical awakening in the United States.
Firstly, congratulations on being able to produce an entire album during a global pandemic. How has this social environment and the lack of certainty in the future fueled you to produce a longform body of music?
Just being at home really turned something on for me and for everyone else. I can’t travel or pretty much go anywhere, so I am basically forced to focus on my artistry. I was planning on releasing this project anyway, but right now seems perfect because I have more time to create which is pretty cool.
What inspired you to release “Stayback” during an entire summer in quarantine?
I don’t think anyone planned it. I remember when quarantine first started 4 or 5 months ago I was listening to a lot of Bootsy Collins and when the beat was originally made I instantly fell in love with the sound.
How have you been able to fully absorb and refine the sounds of your forthcoming album during these unusual circumstances?
My music-making process for this album was all over the place. There will be times where I will be doing absolutely nothing then there will be times where I work straight for an entire month and take the next month or week off. There is no schedule, I just come back to my music when it feels right at that specific time.
You said previously in another interview that you see your music-making process as “spiritual.” What attributes about songwriting and singing do you feel are most powerful? And, why?
Melodies are subconscious to me. It is all feeling, it is all based on human feeling and emotion. If the song lyrics to one of my songs makes me feel a certain way, well that is going to be how it sounds.
How would you define the genre-bending sounds of your next longform musical project?
There is a little bit of everything on there.
What universal message are you hoping your fans resonate with the most while listening to your first album?
I just want this project to be enjoyed and appreciated as a whole. The whole thing is crazy to me. I just really hope people feel inspired while listening to this album.
Will you be singing in Spanish for any of the songs in your first album? If so, what latin roots and sounds are you integrating into this project?
3 or 4 Spanish songs will be on this album. Some of them are entirely in Spanish, while the other songs are partially sung in another language. There are some coritos, cumbia, and reggaeton songs in this project. Basically, everything I grew up on.
How do you view your artistry now that you have multiple longform musical projects under your belt and you’re about to release your highly-anticipated record?
Man, I don’t know. It is super exciting because I feel like I finally created a project that I am super proud of. It is a very satisfying feeling. Before, my releases were cool, but this album making process felt very natural to me and I put a lot of thought into this project. I try not to think about it too much though because it makes me anxious of how excited I am for it’s release.
Which artists did you draw inspiration from for this album? Or, did you try your best to make very original sounds?
I always get inspiration from other artists. Prince, Bootsy, D’Angelo and other 70s sounds had a major influence on my debut album.
Why do you believe it is important to continue to release albums for artists who were intending on releasing a project during the pandemic that pretty much consumed all of 2020?
People were telling me to wait to put out this project, but I was against that because I knew these songs would be old to me by the time I had to actually perform them for the first time. I want to be excited to release this project since it is my debut album and I want to be able to fully absorb the execution and hard work that was put into it.
How are you remaining optimistic while setting to release your album during such untraditional times for the entire music industry?
I moved during quarantine, so now I have space for a garden. I garden pineapples, cayenne peppers, passion fruit, and I even have a bunch of bonsai trees.
How was filming the music video for “Stayback” during quarantine?
“Stayback” was the most fun video I have ever shot. It was from 7am to 7pm and even though I was extremely tired I took a Redbull and was happy that everyone involved was a close
friend of mine. The person who shot it is one of my best friends, everything was so easy, there was no awkward tension on set. We all understood each other.
Is “Stayback” a glimpse into what the rest of your oncoming album will sound like? Or, is your newest project as eclectic as your previous sounds?
I just want this album to remove people from their current world as a form of escapism. Similar to a video game, I want this album to give people an out-of-body experience but with an extreme positive influence. I am so proud of this project and I know the sounds are capable of giving people this sort of experience.
What did you make sure to include in your next album? Are there any major collaborations your fans can anticipate for?
I am not going to say anything. It is a surprise.
What is the lasting impression you are hoping your fans to be left with after listening to your next body-of-work?
With this new project, I am being way more specific and detailed. Before, it was surface-level and pretty but now I am singing about specific situations that affected me and happened to me. It is some real shit. I took a while to be able to open up as an artist and I am more confident in myself as a producer, artist, and songwriter. Songwriting is my favorite part. I hope everyone really listens closely to the lyrics. I just grew so much over the years.
Finally, what are you hoping to achieve with your debut album? Is there any existential goal you have set for yourself for the release of your debut album?
I want people to feel this sense of artistic expression. I want this album to make them pick up a guitar and start experimenting. I want to inspire other people to get deeper into music and perhaps, change their taste. Seeing my supporters cover my songs is one of the tightest experiences to me.
PHOTO: MAX MONTGOMERY
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: PRINCE AND JACOB
STYLING: MANNY JAY
GROOMING: LISA M POWELL USING R+CO
SPECIAL THANKS TO PECHUGA VINTAGE
INTERVIEW BY MALIK PEAY