Xavier Omär Talks 'Everlasting Wave' & Making Music With a Purpose
Xavier Omär understands fully that making honest, vulnerable music (especially, in the dreaded era of Trump) comes at a cost, but it’s a price he’s more than willing to pay. For this singer, it’s all or nothing—he’s laying it all out on the table, no strings attached. Everlasting Wave is the direct product of existing in that vulnerable space, then taking that existence and making it into art, and believe us when we say—it’s the stuff eloquent hip hop dreams are made of.
The response from Omär’s fans has been simple, albeit resounding: Thank you. He’s reviving the 90s R&B realness we’ve all been missing (read: been in desperate need of), and pairing it with woke lyrics (in his own words, “it’s just honesty, it’s respect for women, it’s anti-misogyny, [and] it’s truthfulness with yourself”) that epitomize everything we stand for in 2K17. If it wasn’t obvious, he’s one to watch; keep reading for our full interview with Omär, below.
Let’s start with Everlasting Wave. How did it all come together? What has the reception has been like so far?
The EP actually took two and a half years to put together, which sounds ridiculous but it felt so short. The reason it took so long is because right there, in the beginning of 2014 when I finished the project, I was going through, for the first time, a really deep depression. So that made it harder to consistently make music, but at the same time, in that darkest state, I made the song that was probably the most well received, which is “Blind Man”. So I made a lot more than eight songs, but I didn’t love all the songs that I was making. And as I continued to push through those times, I was able to get music that I loved and pick those eight records that I wanted to share with everybody It was very different, the reception of it, because it wasn’t so much of, “Oh it was dope, it was fire, it was hot,” it was, ‘Thank you.” That was kind of the main thing we noticed, this time around, more so instead of being excited about new music coming out, the fans were like, ‘Thank you for this song, that song, for sharing this moment of your life.” And it all made sense, going through the things I was going through in my life, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to make the music I needed to for the people that needed it. That reception is really different—it makes me want to approach music a little differently going forward, and life as well. I don’t think too much about myself; I want to help other people. Yeah, that EP is important to me.
Do you feel like a lot of the songs are centered around the depression you were going through, or was it just part of the process?
Yeah, they weren’t centered around the depression, it was definitely part of the process. I wrote “Blind Man”, and I didn’t even have anybody I was, like, interested in. But also, I wrote “Speculate” from a place where I was just reflecting on the things that were happening to me. I wrote “Poison” because I literally said what would I say to encourage someone who feels the way I feel right now, so I was basically writing to myself. Then there were happier records like “Special Eyes” and “Grown Woman”, so you know, I didn’t let the darker times completely keep me to the floor, but I used a lot of that to fuel the perspective of what I was trying to show people.
Do you think these are the most honest songs you’ve written so far?
For sure, especially “Speculate”, because I hadn’t shared pain truly yet in my music. I think I did one time in the four years prior and so that was the first time I really showed people that things weren’t great, and I wrote this in “If This Is Love”, that it really was something that you had to find a strength in, and that song is pain but from the standpoint of having a power position. You’re not the victim in the song, things did happen, but instead of forever living in being the victim, you’re able to stand from a position is power and defeat or get through what’s going on. So I think that record was important, because it identifies with your pain and sadness, but it doesn’t allow you to stay there. And we don’t want to stay there, we want to get past things and allow ourselves to see what’s forward.
How does it feel to put such personal music out there, being so honest, and having all these strangers feel what you’re saying? Is that scary?
A little bit, but also I fully understand that the reason I was given this gift is to share that. I was talking to Mike earlier about how writing the music isn’t all that scary and being on stage in front of people honestly isn’t all that scary, but things like this, where you have to be face-to-face bare with people, that is what’s more difficult for me because then the element of not knowing them becomes way more personal than if you just put a song out, where they never have to see you. On stage, you may not have to go and see anyone that night, depending on the venue. But when you do have to sit face-to-face with people, that’s when it’s most bare, that’s when it’s like holy crap, okay let me not be ridiculous, or let me not suck today. But sharing the music, that’s my favorite part of it. Writing and performing. I want people to have these songs, to feel alive, to feel what I felt and feel encouraged. I’m never just throwing records there for the sake of it, there’s always a purpose behind it.
Have you gotten any memorable feedback from anyone who really connected with your music?
Very often, whether it’s from Twitter or in person at shows, I have people tell me about, whether it’s a song about God or songs like “If This Is Love”, how they identify with the lyrics so much. I’ve been noticing recently, people have just been screenshot-ing the lyrics and posting them up, and at any given moment really, you see people tweeting lyrics and how they connect to it. That’s the difference I think with the fanbase that I have, it’s not just, “Oh I see this thing that seems cool and I’m connecting to it,” it’s like, ‘This person really gets it, this person has a perspective that I want and that I need.” My favorite thing that people have said is that how the music is healing, and that’s what it’s here for. It’s good, it’s dope, it’s fun, but it has continual purpose in your life.
So I know you formerly went by another name, SPZRKT—do you feel like you’ve been able to connect with more people now, and have more ears listening to what you’re putting out there?
Yeah, because I think that’s something that’s missing a lot in the perspective that I bring. It’s weird because it’s not some new brand of music, it’s just honesty, it’s respect for women, it’s anti-misogyny, it’s truthfulness with yourself, it’s strength in hard times, and these aren’t brand new concepts—they’re just things we don’t hear as much. And because I’m being my honest self, it’s not hard to do. It’s easier to make those songs that are popular right now, but it’s harder for me to sit with myself and say, “Yeah, let’s release it,” because it’s not me and it’s not honest to the world. It’s just been much easier in this way to fully be myself and I’m happy that people are accepting of that, but I think it’s because people miss it. It’s nostalgic in a lot of ways to the 90s R&B, but yeah people just miss honesty.
Do you feel like in our current political environment, artists like yourself, who have a platform and a voice, have an obligation to speak out?
I think it’s my job and everyone’s job really, that when there are injustices, to speak out against them because we can’t allow those things; that can’t be us. Maybe my music won’t do what like Kendrick’s will do or J. Cole’s will do, but my service to my community, the time that I take to encourage people and the time I take to speak against things, online or in person, I think that’s necessary. It’s a responsibility in a lot of ways. People are protecting their brands, which is why you don’t see some artists or some companies step up and speak out against some things, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to make money if that means that I can’t make a true difference. I didn’t commit to music to make money at all costs. There are some people who do that, but for me it was more so to make an impact and give truth to people. So, whether it’s police brutality or people that would brutalize the police, either way, if it’s a misogynistic thing or anti-women, all of those things are things that must be spoken against. And in a lot of ways, you speak against them by standing with what the true cause could be. So even if you’re not out here saying, “F-this, F-that,” you’re pro this person or pro that movement, whatever it might be. It’s important for us to do it because when people see someone they look up to standing up against something or with something, it gives them more power to do so as well. And I think we’ve been seeing that very much so in the last few years in America, people just being involved, and it makes it easier for us to all form together.
What’s next for you—are you working on any new music right now?
I’m always trying my best to work on something. So I got a record called “Afraid” that will be out toward the end of the month, through Red Bull. It’s probably my favorite record to ever be written, it’s very kind of 90s R&B. There’s another record after that called “No Way Out”, that features GoldLink; that record is like one year old, it’s time to get it out. Because I’ve recorded and written a lot of records this year, I’ll be doing my best to strategically release singles all year long. Probably won’t do a project for the first time in my career for like a year, I’ll be touring 2018 for that, but there will be a lot of music for that. There’s gonna be a lot of music regardless. I’m hoping that all the music I release this year will still feel like I released a project or an EP. I’m excited to be singularly focusing on some of those things, and I know the fans won’t be disappointed, cause it’ll be like almost every month there will be new content. Nobody gets bored, nobody gets upset, nobody will be like, “Where’s Xavier?” You don’t have to look for me. We put the EP out in October and I got a tweet literally two weeks later, “Can’t wait for the next project!” Like, it just came out! But you know, people are always like that, but it’s a good thing. I’m gonna keep the fans very fed this year.
Images courtesy of Julian Schratter
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