By Lucas Villa
The attraction of the rising star Omar Apollo’s artistry is his authenticity. In his songs, which fold his experiences as a Mexican-American and queer singer-songwriter into progressive R&B and laid-back funk, he is not afraid to put on his coronary heart on his sleeve. His debut album Ivory captures the journey from his indie beginnings to his breakout as a Chicano pop musician. Later this month, Apollo will probably be taking his music profession to the subsequent degree on the Coachella lineup.
“It is my first time [performing] at Coachella,” the 24-year-old artist tells MTV Information over Zoom. “Oh man, it will be so loopy! I can not wait!”
Earlier than hitting the Coachella Valley stage, Apollo, born Omar Apolonio Velasco, was writing and recording music in his childhood bed room in Hobart, Indiana. As a child, he was impressed by the soul of American pop artists like Mariah Carey and Prince, which melded with the normal sounds of Mexican icons like Pedro Infante and the flamboyant Juan Gabriel that have been at all times on repeat in his household residence. Apollo discovered to play the guitar as a teen, however at 18, he started crafting his personal songs. He moved right into a pal’s attic and recorded there.
When a pal lent him $30 in 2017 to add “Ugotme” to Spotify, the bluesy love tune turned his first hit on Spotify, the place it has since amassed over 56 million streams. That led to the discharge of his first EP, Mates, and efficiency slots at festivals like South by Southwest and Lollapalooza. “I am simply attempting to not waste the chance,” Apollo says. “I am attempting to honor it. I am out right here simply working. I am simply attempting to maintain going off of that.”
Apollo was changing into a pageant common when the COVID-19 pandemic halted touring in 2020. Nonetheless, he stored pushing on along with his music profession. Whereas in quarantine, he wrote and recorded the mixtape Apolonio, which was distributed via Warner Data. Throughout the 9 eclectic tracks, he flexed his versatility. Apollo gave the balladry of Mexican corridos a heartfelt spin in “Dos Uno Nueve” and touched a bit on his relationships with males in trap-tinged “Bi Friend.” In October, Apollo obtained a co-sign from Prince’s property, which chosen him to be the primary artist to carry out on the late pop icon’s former residence, Paisley Park.
To entertain followers who have been caught at residence, Paisley Park opened its gates to Apollo, who channeled the late pop icon throughout a horny efficiency that was streamed dwell. In a deep purple swimsuit that bared his chest, he gyrated throughout the stage. “That was tight,” Apollo recollects. “We have been there for a pair weeks and it felt like camp as a result of I used to be simply rehearsing there and preparing for that present.”
After years of producing buzz with bombastic single releases and sold-out dwell reveals, Apollo recorded an album that was initially set to drop final 12 months. Within the course of, he was paired with producers and different artists with whom he didn’t instantly join, and so he felt the ensuing LP wasn’t true to his imaginative and prescient or who he was as an individual. He scrapped it and began over from scratch.
“I simply wasn’t excited in regards to the music,” Apollo says. “I made this entire first album. It was cool, but it surely wasn’t what I needed to carry out. It was form of a part of the method [of getting to Ivory].”
“That was a dream come true,” Apollo says about working with the Neptunes. “Pharrell’s one of the best and we obtained alongside tremendous nicely. I can not wait to make extra shit with him.”
Apollo is feeling himself all through Ivory. Its title is “a metaphor for a bond or belief,” he says, referring to the fabric’s robust sturdiness. All through the album, Apollo coos about romance and erotic trysts in fiercely private lyrics, unafraid to make use of male pronouns when referring to his companion, whom he gives to sing to sleep within the title observe. Apollo tries to win again his man within the sweeping “Evergreen” or describes his dream man in otherworldly “Invincible” that includes Daniel Caesar. (“Latin boy, Frida Khalo forehead,” by the best way.) The surreal music video for the latter options caricatures of two males embracing in love. Whereas Apollo prefers to not publicly label his sexuality, he lets out his queerness in his songs and thru his playful tweets to his followers on Twitter.
“It feels so good to be truly sincere,” Apollo says. “The truth that I get these DMs, and these younger children and other people my age are like, ‘Thanks a lot for saying what you say and utilizing pronouns the best way you do,’ it simply makes me really feel so good. There have been a couple of individuals, however I did not have anyone within the Latino group doing that once I was a child or rising up in highschool. I used to be studying a DM final evening when anyone informed me that, and it is an affirmation for me that issues are on the fitting path.”
Throughout Ivory, Apollo embraces all of the intersections of his id, together with his Mexican roots. Final November, he obtained his first main nominations from the Latin Grammy Awards for his work with Spanish rapper C. Tangana. Their breezy collaboration “Te Olvidaste” was up for Finest Different Music and Document of the Yr. “It was my first time being embraced by any a part of the music trade,” he recollects. Apollo sings absolutely in Spanish within the heartbreaking “En El Olvido,” his sparse tackle ranchera music, a style historically rooted in life on the ranches in Mexico.
“It feels good [to sing in Spanish],” Apollo says. “It feels lengthy overdue. I really feel like I used to be simply ready to get a little bit extra snug. Now I can not cease. I used to be within the studio final evening making some shit in Spanish.”
Apollo just lately kicked off his Desvelado World Tour the place he is performing songs from his catalog up thus far. He guarantees the tour, which incorporates these two stops at each weekends of Coachella, will probably be a secure area for followers. “There’s going to be a number of surprises and I am excited,” Apollo notes. “I am undoubtedly going to be dancing on stage, for certain. I miss it a lot.” He’s additionally exhausting at work on a deluxe version of Ivory. Surging all through the tracks is a refreshing confidence that he hopes is empowering for listeners, because it has been for him.
“I need to preserve making music endlessly,” he says. “I might simply hope that folks really feel impressed. Even when you’re impressed to stand up, go outdoors, go to a present, sing a tune, or decide up the guitar, no matter it might be. That is the one factor you may hope for on the subject of releasing music.”