Omar Apollo Welcomes You Into His Ivory World

By Lucas Villa

The enchantment 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 shall be taking his music profession to the following degree on the Coachella lineup.

“It’s my first time [performing] at Coachella,” the 24-year-old artist tells MTV News over Zoom. “Oh man, it’s going to be so crazy! I can’t wait!”

Before 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 all the time on repeat in his household dwelling. Apollo discovered to play the guitar as a teen, however at 18, he started crafting his personal songs. He moved right into a buddy’s attic and recorded there.

When a buddy lent him $30 in 2017 to add “Ugotme” to Spotify, the bluesy love tune grew to become his first hit on Spotify, the place it has since amassed over 56 million streams. That led to the discharge of his first EP, Friends, and efficiency slots at festivals like South by Southwest and Lollapalooza. “I’m just trying not to waste the opportunity,” Apollo says. “I’m trying to honor it. I’m out here just working. I’m just trying to keep going off of that.”

Apollo was turning into a competition common when the COVID-19 pandemic halted touring in 2020. Nonetheless, he stored pushing on along with his music profession. While in quarantine, he wrote and recorded the mixtape Apolonio, which was distributed via Warner Records. Across 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 dwelling, Paisley Park.

To entertain followers who have been caught at dwelling, Paisley Park opened its gates to Apollo, who channeled the late pop icon throughout an attractive efficiency that was streamed dwell. In a deep purple go well with that bared his chest, he gyrated throughout the stage. “That was tight,” Apollo recollects. “We were there for a couple weeks and it felt like camp because I was just rehearsing there and getting ready for that show.”

After years of producing buzz with bombastic single releases and sold-out dwell exhibits, Apollo recorded an album that was initially set to drop final 12 months. In the method, 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 just wasn’t excited about the music,” Apollo says. “I made this whole first album. It was cool, but it wasn’t what I wanted to perform. It was kind of part of the process [of getting to Ivory].”


“That was a dream come true,” Apollo says about working with the Neptunes. “Pharrell’s the best and we got along super well. I can’t wait to make more shit with him.”

Apollo is feeling himself all through Ivory. Its title is “a metaphor for a bond or trust,” he says, referring to the fabric’s sturdy sturdiness. Throughout the album, Apollo coos about romance and erotic trysts in fiercely private lyrics, unafraid to make use of male pronouns when referring to his accomplice, whom he provides to sing to sleep within the title monitor. 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 brow,” by the best way.) The surreal music video for the latter options caricatures of two males embracing in love. While 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 actually honest,” Apollo says. “The fact that I get these DMs, and these young kids and people my age are like, ‘Thank you so much for saying what you say and using pronouns the way you do,’ it just makes me feel so good. There were a few people, but I didn’t have anybody in the Latino community doing that when I was a kid or growing up in high school. I was reading a DM last night when somebody told me that, and it’s an affirmation for me that things are on the right path.”

Across Ivory, Apollo embraces all of the intersections of his identification, together with his Mexican roots. Last 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 Best Alternative Song and Record of the Year. “It was my first time being embraced by any part of the music industry,” he recollects. Apollo sings totally 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 long overdue. I feel like I was just waiting to get a little more comfortable. Now I can’t stop. I was in the studio last night making some shit in Spanish.”

Apollo lately kicked off his Desvelado World Tour the place he is performing songs from his catalog up up to now. He guarantees the tour, which incorporates these two stops at each weekends of Coachella, shall be a protected house for followers. “There’s going to be a lot of surprises and I’m excited,” Apollo notes. “I’m definitely going to be dancing on stage, for sure. I miss it so much.” 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 want to keep making music forever,” he says. “I would just hope that people feel inspired. Even if you’re inspired to get up, go outside, go to a show, sing a song, or pick up the guitar, whatever it could be. That’s the only thing you can hope for when it comes to releasing music.”

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