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Picture of Xavier Omär taken by Dennis Larance.

Music

Interview with R&B Artist Xavier Omär

Xavier Omär is an upcoming R&B artist whose music incorporates all emotional aspects of the human experience. Omär’s songs have appeared on Spotify’s carefully curated R&B/Soul playlists, and he is set to go on tour and perform at upcoming music festivals over the summer. At such a significant point in Omär’s career, I was able to interview him about his first EP, his musical inspiration, and his plans for the future.

How old were you when you discovered your musical abilities, and what first inspired you to go into music?

I was 3 years old when I first realized I had a love for music. I wanted to try guitar first, then saxophone, but eventually landed on drums. I was so young I didn’t really know I had ability, I just knew I loved it. When it comes to writing music, I was 12 years old when I first realized I had that passion.

I was largely inspired to go into music by my brother who played drums, keys, produced, and was a rapper. My dad did all of those things as well, but instead of rapping he was a singer.

Have your family and friends always been supportive of your music career?

No (laughs), I wasn’t always good. In fact, I don’t think I got to be any good until Hours Spent Loving You, but my parents and friends started believing in me before that. Probably since around 2011 was when I really felt the support; that’s when I went out to try American Idol and some other shows. But up until then, it wasn’t always unanimous support.

Your first solo EP album, The Everlasting Wave, is a soulful documentation of what seems to be your personal experiences with love and heartbreak. Why did you want your first EP to be so candid and personal?

More than anything I wanted it to be timeless. I think it’s impossible for music to be timeless without being honest. People connect the most to each other’s honest stories. I really wanted anyone who listened to feel loved and not alone.

You recently posted a picture on Instagram with the caption that read “thanks for not letting me stay depressed. #happynationalbestfriendday.” What role did your friends play in helping you out of your depression?

They were just there. It’s texts, it’s hangouts, it’s FaceTime. I have very encouraging and driven friends who won’t let me stay down because they know I won’t let them. They give me the necessary time to deal and to cope, then they help me get back to being myself. They remind me of Jesus’ love for me and they show it through their friendship.

When you were depressed, did you write songs? What songs and artists helped you through your depression?

I’ve been afraid to make more sad music because I don’t want to push people deeper into depression or make room for suicide. But personally, sad music helps me get through itonly because God is my strength, even in my vulnerability. When I’m weak, He’s strong, so I’m never without strength. That also informs why I began to eventually write more sad or vulnerable songs.

I relate to the listener with my pain, but I help pull them up because even my vulnerability has strength. “I’m so brave, you won’t leave me heartless,” and “you could be treating me better and I could be doing well on my own.” Lyrics like these don’t place your worth on the person or their actions towards you, they instead cite your worth from what God says about you.

Even though pop culture seems to glorify and perpetuate the degradation of women, you never speak about women in a negative way. Why do you feel like it’s important for your song lyrics to reject current societal norms?

I feel like I’m preaching but it’s truly based in my belief. To love my neighbor as myself isn’t specified by gender, heritage, or creed.

And quite honestly, as the son of one amazing woman, the brother of another, and as a human being, no other person is less than me. No matter the socioeconomic class, reputation, or job position, your existence as a human being is not lower or higher than anyone’s existence of being human.

Also, how the hell am I going to openly disrespect women as if a woman didn’t birth me?

Your a cappella song “Speculate” is one of the most emotionally raw songs that you have released. (I actually sobbed the first time that I heard it.) What inspired this particular song, and why did you choose to make it a capella?

Speculate was inspired by the ending of my last relationship. It was pretty abrupt. There weren’t any warning signs or a decline in the relationship like there usually would be. So because of the way it ended and her reason being, “you didn’t do anything, I just want to be single,” it left me with a bad taste. So when I thought about what I gave emotionally and financially, I was pretty down but also upset. I waited a year until I could clearly think to write about it.

There were three or four attempts to get production for it, but I ended up just loving the raw version much more. That’s happened a few times. It’s almost a staple for me now.

You recently performed at Upstream Music Fest + Summit. Did you enjoy performing for such a high energy crowd? What was your most memorable experience from performing at this particular event?

The cool part is there was probably a completely different set of people in the crowd at the beginning then there was at the end. With so many venues and artists close by, people could easily walk from stage to stage. It was a cool set up..

What I’ll remember most is just having friends and people I respect around. Sango, Dave B, Tunji, the guys from Indify… it was just great to be in a room with people I respect and root for.

This summer you are going to be performing at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, as well as Lollapalooza. Are you excited to be performing at more music festivals? Is there anything that you are nervous about when it comes to performing at such high profile events?

I’m absolutely excited. This is part of the dream, to look at the line-up and have your name thereㄧbig or small. I’m definitely excited for festivals because I feel like my music resonates well in a large setting and I believe that I’m a big stage performer. This will only help me get better and connect with more people.

While most artists rarely interact with their fans on social media, you often “like,” “retweet,” and “reply” to your fans’ tweets. Why do you interact with your fans on such a frequent basis?

My name and my message won’t get anywhere without them. Nobody owes me a tweet or a share, so when they do it anyway I won’t be the one to take it for granted. Plus I love them. I want to show my appreciation as much as possible.

Why do you always promote other musical artists on social media?

Because in large part, my friends did that for me. If I can be a help to anyone I believe in then I try to. Other times, I just like to share what I’m listening to. So even though there are levels of stardom and things of that nature, there is still room for everyone to win.

Whenever an important milestone in your career is reached, you always acknowledge God’s presence. What role does religion play in both your career and everyday life?

It doesn’t. Religion is what kept me stuck, and kept me focusing on me and my daily performance. Realizing I could instead have a relationship with God put the full focus on the gospel and on Jesus. Life isn’t a breeze, but I don’t have faith in faith or hope in hope. My faith and my hope have an anchor now. So as long as my heart is focused on glorifying Jesus in my actions, my love shown, and my words, I’m not worried about my daily performance because Jesus already performed. The Spirit guides me, I’m hidden in Christ, and that gives me peace.

You recently tweeted “August is going to be v lit for me and my fans.” Should your fans be expecting new music to drop around this time?

I drop a music project every year, so nothing about that has changed. August is big because I’m touring with Little Dragon up and down the East Coast. So with so many shows plus Lollapalooza, it’s going to be a great time.

You collaborated with GoldLink on your recent single, “No Way Out.” What was it like to work with him, and what artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?

That was a situation where I wish I could’ve been in the studio with him, but we had to work over email instead. You’d be surprised how many songs are done that way. But I’d love to work with him again on more of a future bounce type record. The collab question is always hard to answer because I’m open to so much. I know my voice could blend with just about anyone in R&B, especially the women, but there are many producers, rappers, and alternative artists I’d like to work with too.

What are your plans for the future? What type of music do you hope to release within the next couple of years?

I keep my plans close until they’re ready to be executed, but my team and I are steadily coming up with ideas and analyzing new opportunities.

Every year that I drop, I just want to release relevant music. No matter the genre, the artist, or any other condition, I just want to make relatable and relevant music.

 

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