Interview: Xavier Omar

Xavier Omar is a name you’ll want to remember…and it’s definitely easier to remember than his previous alias. Formerly SPZRKT, Xavier Omar could be classified as an “R&B artist.” However, the diversity of his music shows that he refuses to be forced into a box. His 2016 EP, The Everlasting Wave, demonstrates his amazing abilities as a singer-songwriter and experimenter of diverse sounds. I had the honor of interviewing Xavier Omar before his performance at Royale, while on tour with the electronic band Little Dragon. Check out the interview below and be sure to listen to Xavier’s new single, “Runnin’ Around” out today!

You’re on tour with Little Dragon, who has a very different sound than you. How did you end up touring with them?

It happened because of my agency, but also because I threw the name out there. Originally, there was a tour with Little Dragon, GoldLink, and me, but they did the one with GoldLink already, and I guess they decided to have me separate. It was an idea because they were a group I listened to and was inspired by. And, obviously, [Little Dragon] had to sign off on it, so when it happened, that was a big deal to me. Like wow, they’ve listened and they like what they’re hearing.

Your fans adore your EP, The Everlasting Wave. It’s your first work that you have under your own name, Xavier Omar. What did that change signify and how does it feel to have your work released under your actual name?

At the end of the day, I just need people to be able to say my name easily. At least now, people feel like they know what they are saying and they know how to spell it and they can share it. That wasn’t the case before, even if you were the biggest SPZRKT fan. I think the biggest evidence of that is that the most SPZRKT ever had on Spotify was 200,000 monthly listeners, and Xavier Omar is up to 1 million so far.

You previously worked with Sango on a lot of stuff. How did it feel to work without Sango for the first time on this EP.

This is the first time since 2013 that he wasn’t apart of my work in some way. I wanted to break away from him for my solo project so that people would notice a difference in the sound when we came back together. He and I have our own sound together, and I have my own sound apart from him. I didn’t want people to think that his sound was mine. I have a very wide range as a solo artist.

Your music demonstrates all of the diverse sounds you have. You experiment with a lot of different genres, but you remain rooted in R&B. Do you have a favorite genre to play around with or experiment with?

Probably pop, more and more. I did an entire pop album under SPZRKT, and it’s not good! But, the whole time I was learning. I learned the structure and I kind of learned melodies. I was just experimenting with it. Even though I don’t like talking about that project, I’ll credit it to say that it’s why I’m able to blend that sound with the R&B and with the soul so well now. So, I don’t think I could’ve written “Blind Man” without the Bonfire album. I like to play around with pop a lot more. I’m creating a new definition of pop-R&B for myself right now. I’m in the process of trying to create what pop-R&B really is versus what it’s not.

Can you explain the meaning of your EP’s album artwork?

I was talking to Daniel Lint, who created the cover. I said that I want to make a cover for each song and I want each cover to match whatever color or whatever feeling you get when you hear the song, and then I want to put all of them together on the album cover so that you’ll see each song when you listen to the album. You’ll see each feeling. I just wanted all of the colors to show so that as you listen to the album and look at the album art and the name of each song, something, maybe even subconsciously, would connect as you looked at it.

The second song off of your EP, “Grown Woman,” has a lot of female-empowering vibes. What inspired you to portray that message in your EP? Would you consider yourself a feminist?

The inspiration [simply derives from the fact] that I’ve got a mother, and I’ve got a sister. I say a lot about my faith. Honestly, regardless of faith, there are just things, in general, that kind of stand as what should just be standard, and it’s respect for everyone, for all people. I’m an “everybody-ist.” If feminist means [supporting] the equality of women, then yeah because I’m for the equality of everybody. I believe it should all start on the same playing ground. I don’t like that it’s all uneven. You can’t make anybody change how they do this or how they do that. But, we don’t have to put people down and we don’t have to put people at a disadvantage.

Were there specific artists that brought you into the genre of R&B?

None of my favorite artists were R&B artists, with the exception of Cee-Lo. But, when Cee-Lo was my inspiration, he was doing that alternative stuff. So, Cee-Lo, Pharrell, Chris Martin, James Blake, and John Mayer. The only true R&B artist that was a huge inspiration to me early on was John Legend. He’s probably the voice that my voice is most similar to. Just trying to be as unique as him. I was 15 or 16 really just trying to find myself. Those were the guys that I was inspired by most. They helped make me feel like I could be someone with my music.

Do you have any specific goals for this year and the upcoming year?

I want to get my EP out! I want to do a tour at the end of the year for about a month, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then heading into next year, Sango and I will be finishing up our second [album] and that’ll likely be out next summer. That’s the goal. I’m really hardcore looking into next year. I’m really trying to get it to the people. I’ve got the musical cocaine ready.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Follow Xavier Omar on Twitter, Instagram, and Spotify!