Formerly known as SPZRKT, our favorite First Look Friday subject, Xavier Omär sits down with Okayplayer to talk successes, tour & collabs.
Formerly known as SPZRKT, Xavier Omär proves to be one of R&B’s most hidden gems. With “Blind Man” accumulating over 25 million streams total and still heavy in rotation, the soulful crooner has now created his own lane. While music is nothing new to the San Antonio superstar, Xavier only embarked on his own solo career as an artist in 2012, drawing the attention of producer Sango and the entire Soulection collective.
Beyond the smooth and majestic sounds, the meaning in Xavier’s music runs deep, touching on everything from his faith, feminism, relationships, and the one thing we’re all still trying to figure out: the meaning of life. With us inching into the new year, Xavier has partnered up with ASICS, who is known for their timelessness in a new venture-and-artist collaboration. @Okayplayercaught up with the singer/songwriter ahead of his intimate performance in Los Angeles to speak on the success of his name change, his first ever headlining tour, and dream collab with Pharrell.
Okayplayer: For those who don’t know, who is Xavier Omär?
Xavier Omär: Xavier Omär is 27-year-old R&B/pop singer who wants to bring hope and strength — through adversity in our love lives. So, just doing my very best to help people with the tougher times and to celebrate with them in the good times.
OKP: You actually started out rapping and now you sing. Where do you see yourself fit in this pool of R&B/hip-hop?
XO: I don’t think I fit in hip-hop that much, even though I get a lot of feature requests from a lot of my rapper friends. So that’s dope, because I know that my voice can work within that scene. But even in R&B, I feel a little bit like the outlier because I do have records that are more like, pop-themed. So as much as you can put me may be in a sentence with H.E.R. or Daniel Caesar, you can also put me in a sentence with Khalid or Billie Eilish. It’s very weird, and I think I’m one of the few people who really told that line. If not the only person who chooses to tell that line consistently. And at times people don’t know what to do with it, but at the end of the day, it’s good music (if you listen).
OKP: I love your Pink Lighting EP. What do you want fans to get out of your story?
XO: Oh man, it’s never gonna change. I just wanna point them to what you think is best — what you think is better. For me, I like pointing people to my faith — to Jesus. But at the end of the day, whether they accept or take that part of it or not, it’s just being able to recognize your value. In no matter what you’re going through in a relationship, whether it’s someone is treating you as less – you’re not what they say you are, they just don’t recognize what you are. You have to recognize what you are and uphold that, going forward. Whether it’s that or just being really honest lyrically and making honesty okay, especially as a male. And one of the things that people really pin on me, and I gladly accept is, I do the very best I can to make sure that women are being respected in the music and being upheld for their worth as well in the music. Because that’s a mindset that I want the generation now and after me to have going forward. I know that music is an influencer, and hopefully my records can help to influence them and their mindsets going forward.
OKP: If you had one song to pick for fans to get to know your music, what would it be?
XO: I think we’re gonna have to go with “Blind Man”. I think that covers it all. It’s pop, it’s R&B, it’s deep in content — but it’s fun. It’s pretty much everything you’ll get about me wrapped in one.
OKP: You’re from California?
XO: I was born in Monterey, California. I’ve never seen it. We moved a month later to Colorado Springs. I’m a military kid — we bounced around every three years.
OKP: You live in L.A. now?
XO: No. [Laughs] I will never move to L.A. But I started making music as a singer — as a solo act — out of San Antonio, TX. So I lived there from 2010 to 2014 and I started making the music. I made about my first five or six projects in San Antonio.
OKP: How important do you feel it is to be in L.A. as an artist?
XO: Well the two biggest markets in the U.S. for music are New York and L.A. Atlanta is a big music market, but… your third market depends on how certain fans perceive you. If you’re in the U.S. and you’re an artist, usually your top markets are going to be New York and L.A., whichever the order. Your third market could be… mine I believe is like, London. And Atlanta is in there, especially since I live in Georgia now. But the third one to the fifth one, they’re all different for everybody, depending on your fan base. So you have to have a presence in California and in New York if you’re doing honestly anything in your career, because that’s where so many people are. So the bigger markets, it just makes sense at the end of the day.
OKP: You used to go by SPZRKT, how’s the name change been? Do you feel like your music has been better received?
XO: I don’t know if it’s been better received. It’s hard to say because the music isn’t different per say but I think people… it’s easier to share and it’s easier to say. So more people have been open to just pressing play. And SPZRKT honestly, the way that I spelled it taking the vowels out — I wanted some curiosity and some shock value. Curiosity being, what does this sound like pressing play, being shocked at what it sounds like with that name. And that had a ceiling. So once we got to that ceiling I was just like, let’s just go by my name. It’s my first and my middle. My max with SPZRKT was 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and my max with Xavier Omär is about 2.5 million.
OKP: You still have those crazy symbols though right? Over Omar right?
XO: I have the umlaut over the “a,” yes.
OKP: Does that make a difference?
XO: It’s something to differentiate, something to make it stand out. Like the period for Anderson .Paak.
OKP: Talk about this new venture with Asics. How are they a good fit for you and vice versa?
XO: It’s a good fit, in the sense of having a unique mystic that’s different from maybe brands that are more common or more known. And sticking to what you know is you and taking chances in that market. And I feel like that’s what I do musically. So to be able to connect with a company that’s probably most tailor made for even my style right now, my story right now is really cool. They’re based out of Japan, I lived in Misawa, Japan from ‘96 to ‘99. So there’s just a lot of parallels for us. So it’s cool to be apart of this.
OKP: Can you speak Japanese?
XO: No [laughs].
OKP: That’s crazy, what did you do there?
XO: We were on an American airbase. I learned a little bit of Origami. I can still make swans, because that was my favorite thing to make. They didn’t teach it to us as a class, even though we had Japanese teachers for the Origami class. They didn’t teach the language to us as a class. So, I missed out on that.
OKP: You mentioned having to prep in the gym for your first headlining tour. How was that experience?
XO: The tour was just…I don’t want to say it was crazy. It was just really eye opening for in the sense of how many people came out. We sold out 10 of the 16, even though the 6, it seemed as if it were close to, if not sold out. There were a couple markets that was like, “Alright, we have to get better here.” But the rooms looked great every night. There were some rooms that weren’t sold out and we didn’t know. So, you see that and you understand what the music means. What I do lyrically isn’t suppose to work, kind of my stance that I take especially as a R&B artist. I should be talking about sex and whatever – what I’m doing isn’t suppose to work and it’s working. It opened my eyes to keep staying focused on what I’ve decide to do, the lane I decided to take. And hopefully that can inspire people as well.
OKP: You’ve been doing this for 15 years, what’s your biggest take away?
XO: I’ve only been a solo artist for 5, but making music I probably have…yeah, I’ve been making music for 15 years. That’s a stat I didn’t know about myself. [Laughs] Yeah, I’ve been writing for 15 years, but the last five have been… I never wanted to be a solo artist. I was in a rap group. I was always in a group.
OKP: What group was it?
XO: I’m not gonna say, I don’t want y’all to find the music, [laughs]. During this journey, coming out being a solo artist, I really did it because when I went out for American Idol, The Voice, and some of those other things, I got cut at like the very first stage. And so, it just made me mad and I wanted to prove that I can do it for myself. And then I fell in love with being able to perform by myself. And being able to control the entire story of the song. It’s been quite the experience, with many more years to go.
OKP: What’s a normal day in the life?
XO: More times than not I’m at home, I’m playing Xbox. I have a trainer now. So about 11:00 a.m., I go to my trainer. We work out for a little over an hour. I go home, I shower. I don’t really have a lot of friends in town. So if Elhae is in town, I’ll hit him up. That’s my boy. We’ve been friends since we were four. So if he’s in town, we’ll hang out, we’ll go do something, play [NBA] 2K or something. But honestly, if it’s not Wednesday or Sunday and I’m not at church, I’m at the house. Life is relatively boring for the most part. But when we’re traveling, those are the days when things are really cool.
OKP: What would you be doing if you weren’t in music?
XO: I’d be a sports journalist. I love it. I love all things ESPN.
OKP: What’s your favorite sport?
XO: It’s all great to me. I love just comparing stats and looking at the history of sports.
OKP: What’s the best encounter you’ve had with a fan?
XO: Best, okay. Every time someone says fan encounter, I directly go to the worst thing. The best thing, I’ma just leave it as a tie. I’ve never really put it out there, but I love handwritten letters. And so there have been some fans who have done that without knowing that. They’ve just written me some notes and some letters. Just really short nice things that I keep with me actually. I keep it at the house and it’s just really cool. Or when they make something like artsy and they give it to me, those things are all great.
The worst was in the Bay. This was my first ever sold-out show, only like 250 people or something like that. It was in San Jose, this girl was drunk because the show was at a bar. And I had been talking to people for awhile and I guess she was trying to get to me. I didn’t even have dreads then, I remember, my hair was just tall. So she grabs me by my hair, like two hands, grabs my hair and like licks the side of my face. I’m like mmmm. I don’t want my face licked in any situation. So, yeah it was weird.
OKP: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
XO: I would probably say Frank [Ocean], man. Frank is the only artist in my phone who has his own playlist.
OKP: Dream collab?
OKP: Okay, dope! I feel like that could happen.
XO: It could, and it better because I have a tattoo. My only tattoo right now. Nile Rodgers, Daft Punk, and Pharrell when they did “Get Lucky.” [points to forearm]
OKP: Is there anything else that you would like to let the Okayplayer readers know?
XO: Just hopefully you guys stick with me and this journey, and listen to the records. And thank you.