Omar Apollo is as humble as they come. Inspired by his Mexican parents who have worked hard all their lives to provide for him and his siblings, he taught himself to sing, write, play guitar, produce, and make something of himself. The Indiana artist, whose real last name is Velasco, comes armed with raw soul, emotive bilingual lyrics, and intricate psych-pop sounds that intrigue with every beat.
Apollo was surrounded by music both at church, where he was an alter boy and attended twice a week, and at home, where his mother’s love of renowned Mexican artists such as Los Panchos, Estela Núñez, and Pedro Infante, and his father’s fondness for The Beatles filled the house. He got his first acoustic guitar at 12 years old and used Camp Rock covers on YouTube to learn as he mirrored their hand movements. This method was even used during his first live performances at his church when he’d go up only knowing a few chords but would copy those he was playing with to progress.
However, within a couple of years he’d grown tired of playing traditional music and soon discovered R&B/neo soul acts such as The Internet, Daniel Caeser and Smino. Saving up for a new electric guitar and a laptop to create these new sounds, he began releasing songs on SoundCloud and quickly progressed his range of skills in a DIY fashion. When he transitioned to Spotify, his slow, swung blues track ‘Ugotme’ was added to an official playlist and saw him blow up almost overnight. To this day, it is still his most played track on the platform and currently stands at 16 million.
This incredible beginning spurred him to self-released his debut album Stereo last May, which ‘Ugotme’ features on. Comprising of only 7 short but sweet songs, it is a beautiful amalgamation of genres and languages that is only a glimpse of what Apollo is capable of. His Prince-like falsetto vocals are an amazing contrast to the deep bassline and percussion in ‘Ignorin’, but his real talent lies in how effortlessly he is able to switch between and mould himself into different genres. Stereo was praised by Pitchfork as an “effective introduction to a triple threat of an artist with plenty to offer”, and the site has shown him support ever since.
This April, Apollo followed up the successful debut with his second EP Friends. Lead singles ‘Ashamed’ and ‘Trouble’ rose to the hype as they took on an even more broad and experimental sound that wowed critics and fans alike as it proved that his music will be anything but stagnant. The title track does link back to themes covered in Stereo too as it takes a more solemn turn that tells of the pressures felt in a relationship but in a refreshing manner instrumentally. Comparing his flexible and diverse style to that of Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting range, DJ Booth said “the choices Omar Apollo makes across Friends has transformed him from a promising talent to a future potential star”, while Remezcla also called him a “rapidly evolving, prodigiously talented young artist”.
He’ll be debuting these new tracks at his upcoming show at Village Underground, Shoreditch, London next week so don’t miss out!introducing / omar apollo