Omar Apollo: on emotion, vibrato, and his start with music
Erin Clifford4 years ago

Q: Do you have a song you listen to when you drive?

Omar: Yeah. Let me see. If I were to hop in the car right now, I would probably play the song “Warned You” by Good Morning. 

Erin: Yeah! I love that song. 

Omar: Or, I’d listen to “I Love You” by The Bees. You want to cry? It’s really good. 

Q: I remember where I was when I first heard your song. 

Omar: Where?

Q: I was in New York, and I was having a really weird day. My friend texted me “UGotMe”, and I was just listening to it like 17 times in a row. 

Omar: No way. That makes me so happy to hear.

Q: It was crazy. I didn’t even realize. 

Omar: That’s just so crazy. When I made that song, I was home alone and my roommate kept asking me to clean outside, so I had to stop. It’s so funny, they’ll hear me making music, and then I’ll be putting it out. Then, they’ll be like is this the song you played on this day? But, I remember I made it and had this “Baby there’s something you know.” Here, no one knows this. This was like 4 months before I made the song UGotMe. I’m with my band, and I was like, “Hey Joey hit the snare like this,” and I recorded a baseline. I recorded a voice memo, and the first thing I said was like , “baby there’s something you know.” Then, I just left it there for like 3 months and then I found the voice memo, and I was like this is kind of tight, so I started to make the drums. It was already written like three months before that, the melody that I was going to use. I just put it off, and that’s probably the song that helped me out the most. 

Q: What song of yours explains where you are right now?

Omar: Weird question. Okay, so I have been wanting to make a song about how I feel currently, which is like numbness, like nothing for anybody or anything. It’s kind of weird, but I am kind of enjoying it because I know that there is going to be a time where I am going to feel that way. Like again. Damn, this got deep. I literally was just thinking about this last night, so in my head is just like man like I don’t feel shit. Like for anybody, for no one. I’m just kind of numbed out. But, there’s happiness to it because I know I’m going to feel something for someone or something soon enough, like I’m just kind of enjoying the feeling of knowing that it’ll come. 

Q: I get that. 

Omar: It’s weird. It’s a nice transitional period. I feel good, creatively in it. 

Q: Do you consider yourself a really emotional person? Do you have to be emotional to be a musician?

Omar: Yeah, I think I am way more emotional than anybody should be. I think any artist thinks that. You can’t let things bother you like negative things bother you. That’s the biggest thing. Life is just patterns. The way I’ve gotten as far as I am is literally by not doing and just doing. If that makes sense. You just kind of do it and don’t worry about how things are going to turn out. You just kind of think that they’ll happen and they will. It’s so weird. You have to think about the good, not the bad.

Q: So you’re a self-taught musician and when you were younger you were heavily influenced by the movie Camp Rock. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Omar: Okay, so I love the way they sing and play guitar in the movie.  I was like 13 when it came out, and I remember I was on Youtube trying to learn chords. They were playing pretty chords, and I was so frustrated because I loved the music so much at that age, and I couldn’t play them like that. I remember after I was watching it and trying to learn it, I just went to my room. My mom came, and I was crying, and she’s like why are you crying? I was like, I’ll never be as good at playing guitar as everyone else. It was the purest thing ever. 

So, Joe Jonas is like why you started playing music!

Omar: (Laughs) No. It’s because of my tío from Mexico. Well, my parents got me a guitar, and I was learning on my own just like pausing videos because I didn’t know about tutorials yet. And my tío came, and he taught me a lot of Spanish traditional stuff. I remember I used to like go to sleep playing guitar. My mom would take it and put it on the side of the bed. 

Guitar, your first love. 

Omar: It really was, and she knew that. She knew how much I loved playing. She would tell everybody, “Yeah my son plays guitar”. It was cool. I wasn’t singing yet. 

Q: When did you start singing?

Omar: I had always tried to sing but everybody told me I was bad. My dad was just speaking the truth. It was bad. I was just singing loud. I knew that my dad loved vibrato, and I knew that’s all he wanted to hear me do so I could impress him. So, I went on Youtube and watched like 20 videos. All it is is perfect breathing from your diaphragm. I went on Youtube and did stretches. That’s when I first heard it. I freaked out. I remember I couldn’t sleep. I felt it in my throat. You have to allow it to happen. I worked on my breathing and got to where I am now. I just started taking voice lessons. I want to have a more reliable powerful/chill voice. This new song that I have now is pretty up there. It’s a new unreleased song that will be featured on the EP. It’s going to be tight. 

Q: I bet. All your singles are really good. What was it like to be on stage for the first time?

Omar: Oh my god. 

Q: Because I know you didn’t tell your parents right?

Omar: I was like 18. It was the first time before I was even playing my songs. You know who Chance The Rapper is right? He had the open mic, and I used to go and just kind of watch. And I remember my first time I was like, I’m going to sing one of my songs on SoundCloud that’s deleted now, but the crowd thought it was tight. I remember they were like, “You’re on deck.” My heart was thumping. It was my first time being in front of that many people and to know I’m up there, like what am I doing. I was just like fuck it, my heart is already beating this fast. I was by myself. I didn’t really know anyone or that there was a scene. I sung and people liked it. It was the most terrifying moment ever, and after that I had my first show. It was a house show, and I had like 4 songs out, but they did pretty well. I had like 400 likes. It was in Indianapolis, people liked it. They were singing along, and I was like damn. That was the first time that had ever happened to me. I was with my band. I had my friend Joey and Manny, and I was playing guitar and singing. We had no experience with arranging or anything like that. I would just be like okay I think we’re good and would just end it. It was so funny because my whole life I wing everything and once you realize everyone else is winging it, it’s cool. And now there’s like an Indiana scene now that we helped curate.

by Erin Clifford
Erin is a writer and photographer at inbtwn.

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