Omar Apollo Is Out Of ‘Survival Mode’ And Working On His Next Album

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Omar Apollo isn’t taking a summer break. Instead, the singer — who is known for his poetic lyrics, falsetto runs and multi-genre music — is doubling down on his craft and preparing to put his next album together.

“I’ve been watching a lot of Muhammad Ali fights and Mike Tyson fights. There’s this mindset that you get into. It is this kind of destructive state of mind to where you give it your all… so much that your whole life becomes consumed. You go home and just have to turn it off, but it’s like everything you see, there’s an idea there,” he says from his studio in Los Angeles.

2023 is already shaping up to be a big year for the artist who won over Pharrell Williams’ co-sign on “Tamagotchi”: Apollo was nominated for a Grammy, he covered British GQ and he has a viral song on TikTok. Rather than giving up momentum, he is diving into this new chapter of his career. He says he’s also on the brink of “really chaotic creative mindset.”

“I’ve been there before. I did it when I made Ivory, and that was really dark. To finish a piece of work that you care about is like really, really, really hard,” he says of his debut studio album, released in 2022. “I’m at the point now where I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m about to go somewhere else for like a month and just be on writing mode, on music mode, on idea mode.’ You just become a vessel, like an antenna that just constantly gets inputs.”

This new time in Apollo’s life calls for some personal transitions in his relationship with music. There’s a big conversation around self-preservation as artists, he notes, and a need to not “water down your personality” while still preserving the intimate parts of life. But there’s also a new freedom.

“Before I was more autopilot, floating through. Music was more of a survival thing. It was like, ‘Oh that makes more money than me working here, so I’m going to go do this,’” he says. “I have become obsessed with design and with all these things. That’s because I moved out of survival mode.”

One of his favorite hobbies within design is vintage lighting. For example, he suspended an Afra and Tobia Scarpa lamp in his studio.

He also fell in love with Miami.

On a recent trip where he performed at a Buchanan’s Pineapple event, Apollo says the coastal city might have changed his life. The 26-year-old (who jokes he’s “pushing 30”) is now planning on making his next album there.

“I wanted to bring this juicy piña vibe to start the summer and do something for the fans out there and make it feel like this oasis during the sunset,” he says. “I performed until it got dark. It was beautiful, but I also became obsessesed with Miami in that process, and now I’m writing my whole album there.”

Apollo plans to release singles in the meantime. (He recently teased a snippet on Instagram.) The next album is sure to have new influences: Lately, he says he is finding inspiration across art pop and literature, like Ocean Vuong’s poetry.

“The words he chooses and the way that he expresses his perspective on love, family, his mother and his life… it’s inspired me to find inspiration in other places that aren’t music. The melody and everything else comes easy to me,” Apollo says. But poetry, he explains, has a special way of teaching him about subjectivity, lyrical composition and expression.

It’s not his first time taking inspiration from literature. “Pretty Boy” was inspired by a scene from one of James Baldwin’s treasured texts, Giovanni’s Room. Apollo also notes his growing interest in Kate Bush.

“My parents showed me corridos and stuff when I was younger, so I missed out on Kate Bush,” he says. His current obsession from her catalogue is the 1988 single “This Woman’s Work.”

To understand Apollo’s drive and discipline requires understanding his upbringing.

Apollo is largely self-taught, which is why, he explains, he likes to produce and write his own music. His parents immigrated from Mexico and raised their family in Indiana as Catholics — all of which influenced his music from exposure to regional Mexican music to dealing with Catholic guilt around his sexuality and more, as reported by British GQ. Going into a music career wasn’t the most desirable decision he could make in the eyes of his parents, but Apollo said they supported it as long as he gave it everything.

He moved to Los Angles shortly after high school and did one-off jobs while uploading music to SoundCloud and Spotify. The breakout moment was when his 2017 single “Ugotme” was added to a Spotify’s “Fresh Finds” playlist and racked up over 20,000 listens daily. Stereo, his first EP came soon after in June 2018, and his second EP titled Friends released in April 2019. Apolonio was his late 2020 mixtape before the debut studio album Ivory in 2022. Over the years, he’s collaborated with Kali Uchis, Daniel Caesar, C. Tangana and performed on tour with SZA.

Known for his smooth vocals and seamless transitions between music in English and Spanish alike, Apollo’s songs are as vulnerable as guarded. Love and fantasy are often subjects. His sound is influenced by rock, funk, pop and Mexican soul. Some tracks lean ethereal and summery while others are bright, youthful and better for dancing. Whatever music coming next from Apollo is sure to blend his creativity with new ideas and unexpected sounds.

“I’m really just trying to give it my all and feel like I’ve left this Earth knowing I tried my hardest,” he says. “That’s all I really care about.”

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