When you think of some mainstream R&B today, what’s missing from it? Lyrical content? Actual singing ability? That soulful feeling that had you running a track back over and over until you were tired of it? While 2016 has been an amazing year for new music, it’s only getting better.
He’s the voice behind the 2015 collaborative EP, Hours Spent Loving You. He’s the crooner you’ve let guide you through the feels on Soulection’s playlist or tracks by Noname and Mick Jenkins. You may have seen his performance at this year’s Afropunk. You may even know him as the artist formerly known as SPZRKT. But, Xavier Omär is so much more than who he’s been.
The San Antonio repping singer has spent the last seven months working on his forthcoming project, The Everlasting Wave and getting some well deserved recognition all while touring everywhere from Miami to Europe.
With The Everlasting Wave dropping on October 14th, we spoke to Xavier Omär about self-love, how his faith influences his life, and his inspirations on this project.
WatchLOUD: I became a fan of yours when I heard Hours Spent Loving You. I read that you described it as a “summation of how relationships are viewed in Earth and Heaven.” How would you describe The Everlasting Wave?
Xavier Omär: The Everlasting Wave in a lot of ways is very introspective. It’s almost in different parts. Pretty much, the first part— the first two songs of the project are just words of affirmation towards women and in a lot of ways not just my personal view or how I think we should treat women. But, how I hope men will uplift women in their minds and in their hearts with their words and with their actions in the future. And then, there’s the introspective part of it where it’s like “Okay well, I have to deal with my own self value.” You know? How do I feel about myself? I have to deal with, um… You know maybe I haven’t been doing things right towards this person or in my life on my own. So, it tackles a bunch of subjects.
Overall, I would call it an introspective project about self worth, affirmations of women, and a true hope that real love exists and it’s possible.
WL: It’s an all around self- love album, in all aspects.
XO: Yeah, very much so.
WL: That’s what I got from it, I was going to ask if it was inspired by a woman…
XO: [sighs] Oh man, so it’s difficult. It was written over several months, so the more I sit back and look at it, there were specific situations that may have been sparked by one particular person. But overall, it’s a big summation of some things I’ve gone through in the last two years. Whether it’s with an ex or the girl that I was in love with forever. It tends to lean towards one person, but honestly, it is just a summary of what I’ve been through just over all.
There was some sadness from the last relationship that I never really fully got to express. The girl that I wrote Hours Spent Loving You about, that whole thing broke down.
So, I never got to musically express some of the harder times I dealt with after that. I got a little bit of that out on the project. It’s really just a summary of my life the last two years.
WL: You touched on self-love which is really important. I feel like women—especially right now— are on this self-love kick and it’s very beautiful and it’s empowering. But, sometimes people forget about men when it comes to self-love. So, how do you express your self-love? Is it just through music?
Well, music isn’t what creates the mindset for me— it’s what I go through, first. It’s “What are the decisions that I’m making that will help me succeed in the situation that I’m going through?” So, whether it’s some type of heartbreak or a loss of confidence, “What am I deciding to do now or in the future that will help me get past this?”
It’s weird, when I’m making music I’m either doing that because I got past that dark time or that situation or I’m trying to write it out to see the ways that I should help myself get through it. A song like “Speculate” was like I wanted to get past this point and I wasn’t fully past it yet. I needed to put it down and look at the lyrics to see what was happening within myself and help myself get past it. I know that whenever I put it into music, I’m helping other people as well.
Many times the lessons come before the music, but there are times that it is happening as I’m writing and recording it.
WL: I’m glad you mentioned “Speculate,” it was one of my favorites. Where do your musical inspirations come from?
My inspirations are an array of different artists, different genres. There’s Coldplay, James Blake, Cee-Lo, Pharell, Kanye. It’s all over the spectrum. I think Cee-Lo is probably the biggest for me because he’s rapped in Goodie Mob. He’s made soul music on some of his more recent albums, but he also went into a little bit of alternative with Gnarls Barkley. That was something that I didn’t really know black artists could do, let alone someone that’s you know, kinda chubbier, being accepted and use our voice to express in anyway. So, Cee-Lo is definitely my biggest influence, but I’m very influenced by many genres and I think that does shine through. Whether it’s song to song or project to project, you’re never able to fully expect what I’m about to do.
WL: Exactly, the snippet I got of “Speculate” was filled with this array of harmonies coming together all at once and it took me to church for a minute. I know you have a history with Christian rap. Does your religion still influence your music?
Yeah, my faith influences my entire life, so everything that I do is influenced by my faith. Just because I stepped away from a particular sub-genre of music, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t influence my music anymore. The reason why I’m able to be such a difference in what I do in R&B is because of my faith and belief— I’m just living it out. I’m not jumping down anybody’s throat with scripture or anything like that, but I’m still bringing forth some very important principles about ourselves, about how we treat others. There’s never a project where I don’t make at least one song about God.
At this point, that’s hard for me not do. It’s my life, you know? It’s what I live by everyday. So, it greatly influences my music.
The gospel sound in my vocal, being because I’ve grown up in the church all my life and I still sing on the Worship team at my church when I go home. Gospel music has been major. I can’t sing it well because it hurts my vocals, but it’s always influencing everything I do.
WL: It’s great that while your faith influences your music, you found a way to not be put into a box by it. I was was listening to Bonfire and it has a completely different sound from The Everlasting Wave. Was there something that happened that made you want to go from the more “poppy sound” to the soulful and funk sound we get on this project?
I started off being more R&B than anything else. R&B has always been the base of my music, since I’ve started making solo music. I would just try out different styles that I thought I could possibly have a hand in.
When I did Bonfire, that was a pop album in more ways than one.
It was very experimental. I did that so I could be used to creating pop elements within my R&B music. It’s a bit of a formula that isn’t used all that often. Sometimes, it sounds like R&B songs are full out pop songs and they’re only considered R&B because of the artist that it is—who is historically R&B. But, it’s a pop song at the end of the day.
What I wanted to do was: instead of being a flat-out pop artist in the future, I did it right then and there to learn all the elements to use for music such as The Everlasting Wave and all those things. You’ll hear elements here and there within the project that would work for all people but the ground, base, and foundation of every song that I made on this project is absolutely R&B.
WL: I noticed in your work from Hours Spent Loving You to now, you have amazing beat selection. How do you choose the producers you want to work with?
It’s weird. Alot of times, it’s just guys that I really just admire and I would just like to take a shot with or see if there’s something I could adapt to or if they could adapt to me. When working with Sango, that was a no brainer just because we had done a song already and we had been working on somethings that people haven’t heard. We were like “Oh, let’s just make an EP.” We knew that our sound was sick so we continued to work.
This is actually the first time ever for me since meeting Sango, that I don’t have anything at all from him. I wanted to do that for an opportunity to step away from my norm and the expected. Also because, we want to work more in the future and I want it to be very special.
On this, I worked with a bunch of guys that I’ve never worked with before. Alot of them were dreams to work with, I had just been hoping that one day I could work with them. Some of them, I just met recently and we sat in the studio and it came out great.
For the most part, it’s really just about finding a really great sound and vibe that I know I can work with. It’s not so much about it being a particular person…
WL: It’s about the feeling and how organic it is…
Yeah! When you press play or when you finish making this beat, does it have a story by itself? I just want to add a story on top. I don’t want to be the only story. When somebody presses play, I want the music to tell its own as well. If it does that, I want to work— that’s all it is when it comes to beat selection.
WL: I’m really glad that you and Sango don’t have anything on this project because when listening to it, I got so many different elements of Xavier Omär. You’ve got one song with trumpets and this funk feel [“Special Eyes“]. You’ve got “Grown Woman” with Thelonious Martin. Production wise, who else is on the album?
The producers on the project are Jay Louis, Thelonious is on there twice, the second song that he’s on. The other producers are Carter Lane, Peter Cottontale from The Social Experiment, and Will Miller. On “Lost in Nostalgia,” we worked with Hit-Boy— big thank you to Red Bull Sound Select, they made that happen for me.
IAMNOBODI— he’s a beast— he did “If This Is Love.” “Special Eyes” was produced by Louie Lastic and Brasstracks. Working with them was cool because I hit up Louie just to work with him. Then one of the records that he had for me had Brasstracks on it, and I always wanted to work with them. When I finished the record, I was able to show both parties and Brasstracks was like “Oh, this is crazy. We’ve always wanted to work with you too.” So, it just turned out really well.
WL: It’s beautiful how the organic connections just happen. Nothing on The Everlasting Wave sounds forced, it sounds like its just supposed to happen…
Well, this is the first time I’ve actually loved a full project of mine because of that. Everything was organic and these are guys who really wanted to work with me. They didn’t just throw a bunch of files with me and said “Pick one.” They were like “What are you looking for?” “What are you feeling?” We were able to work together through the whole process.
WL: That’s dope. Do you plan on dropping any visuals to this project?
We have a visual planned for “Speculate,” it matches the tone of the record. Every once in a while when I’m making a song, I just do it only vocals and then we put production on top of the idea. This song is only my voice and a metronome. So because of that, we made the video in a very similar way. The visual matches the feeling 100%, I’m loving the way that it came out. We’ll be releasing that rather soon.
“Speculate” is the oldest song on that project. I’ve been holding that song for almost two years. I knew it was just really good and I wanted it to be on there. It’s basically the original recording. We tried to put a beat on there here and there, that’s why it’s taken so long. We had beats that worked, but I was like “That’s not the same feeling.” We took all the music off and just left it only vocals.
WL: Is that one of your favorite songs on the project?
I would have to say it is because I did hold it for so long. I never put a snippet out or anything like that. I wanted it to be on whatever I was going to release next. I would say it’s one of my favorites, but as I said this is the first time on a project that I’ve loved every single. There’s usually one song where I’m like “Eh..” and everybody else is like “It’s great, you have to put it on the project.” This is the first time nobody has had to convince me of a particular song. I was just like “Yes, this one and this one.” It feels great to love every song on the project. I hope that it comes across to people that way when they listen to it.
WL: What’s made you be on the fence about other songs in the past?
There’s a perception that because an artist is good when they go in the studio, everything they ever do is going to be fire. It’s just not true. Every time Steph Curry puts up a shot, it doesn’t always go in. We expect it to because he makes so many but it won’t always go in. The same thing for artists who do anything well consistently, but there are some days where it just doesn’t go that great. I have a lot of good songs, but I want my music to be great. You’ll never hear those good songs because we don’t want to make a legacy of good. We want to put out a legacy of greatness, so that’s what I strive for. That’s what I want— for people to hear the very best that I have or what I beileve in the most rather than just songs that could be.
The Everlasting Wave is currently available on pre-order here.