Inner Circle: Xavier Omar
Most of you guys probably knew him as SPZRKT up until a couple of years ago; he goes by Xavier Omar now. When I first met Xavier in twenty-fifteen, he was going by SPZRKT, or Spazzy. He was definitely a bit quieter, when we were hanging out in the green room it took him some time to open up to us. There was something different about him, he took the time to talk to us, he was approachable, and there was an air of comfort when he was talking to you, he let you know everything he was saying was genuine and real. His manager was his DJ at the time, didn’t ask for much before his performance, but when he got on stage…he lit up the place.
Fast forward to a couple of years, and the game has totally changed. Going by his real name, Xavier Omar has a sold out show at Brighton Music Hall. His team has multiplied tenfold and so has his confidence. Everything from his demeanor to his pre-performance ritual has been amplified. After his PR Director informs us that we won’t be able to take photos, I walk into the green room and I’m a little bit taken aback. Xavier doesn’t have his glasses on, his shoes are off to the side, and he looks as if he’s just been enjoying his time before he goes on stage. No more are the silences or shyness, he truly has grown into himself.
A lot has change since you were last here, what made you start going by your actual government name?
It’s easier. It’s hard to make a name for yourself, and your sort of do it, and people can’t spell or say that name. It puts a ceiling on you, and I didn’t have a desire to stay under that ceiling. Knowing I could go so much further and do so much more, and if all it took was just a name change, just do it. There’s something powerful about letting people call you what your mom calls you, and to keep that perspective whenever someone is talking to you, that it’s not some separate character.
Was there a particular order for the songs on the album?
Just what felt best. Runnin’ Round was already out. When a song has already been out, it’s kinda hard to place it in the middle of project, because people are just gonna skip it anyway - they’ve heard it. Unless you tell them it’s a story, listen to it in a context - but it wasn’t. The story is the feeling, and that’s what Pink Lightning is. It’s gentleness and strength, it’s trying to get people to understand that I’m not one thing or another, I’m a dual person. That duality is a large part of how I would like to be perceived, because it’s who I am. Almost trying to shape the way that they see me, by giving them what I felt represented me; musically, sonically, whether it was really hard or both. Even with the visuals too, like in the photo I’m barefoot, but with cut jeans. The shirt’s pink with a bumblebee, and the pink background but also strong lightning - all this contrast. I wanted people to see me and to see duality, not just this one thing.
Do you feel like you put a different type of sound when you work with Sango than without him?
Yes, purposely. Working with Sango we have our own sound together, and it caters to a more particular crowd, purposely. That’s the reason why I haven’t had him produce on any of my solo stuff, because I need to create my separate sound. I need people to know the difference so I can know who’s actually a fan of me, so I can begin to build that for myself. When we come back together [it’s stronger]. I believe that my fans who know my separate from the collaboration, they’ll still love whatever I do with him, but those fans that know me from [working with him] won’t necessarily love what I do outside of him. It’s beneficial for both of us cuz it gets more eyes, for me to be as different as I am by myself, and to bring that crew over to what we do as a collaboration. Even as something as the Christmas song that we did for Spotify, it’s getting a hundred thousand plays a day and it’s only been out for what, three days? I don’t want to go traditional, I want Sango because he’s gonna make it different. That difference and that magic when we come together is very special, so I don’t want it to be an ‘all the time’ thing. I want it to be a moment, I want them to crave it and be looking for it.
Are there any artists you have on your list to work with?
It would be cool to try something with Daniel Caesar in his style. It’d be cool to do something with H.E.R, and it’s dope that they got together too. I do eventually want to do something with Smino.
One more question, do you have any secrets for the dreads?
Dang, secrets. Not really, because I had been doing them myself for the most part. At first I was really active, cuz I wanted them to look nice all the time. I got really lazy in the past five months - I got it retwisted a couple of days ago, and I haven’t taken care of it. The secret is to just take care of it, silk sheets and pillows and durags, that’s the real secret.