When we last spoke to R&B singer Xavier Omär, we were standing under a tent in the middle of Commodore Barry Park. It was day two of AFROPUNK Brooklyn 2016, and Xavier had just rocked the Gold Stage hours prior.
“I knew I had to give the best performance of my life ‘cause this was the biggest performance of my life,” he shared with a relaxed smile. “I’m usually really antisocial, but afterwards I went and I just hugged everybody, dapped up everybody, took pictures with every fan who would take pictures with me. I loved it. It was awesome.”
This year has very much been about opening up for Xavier. Day-one fans remember him as SPZRKT, a “character” he initially took on that allowed him the space to shroud himself in some mystery.
“The character gave me room to not have to really get out of myself,” he explained. “Changing my name to Xavier, having people call me by my name, it just gave me the opportunity to do better, do more, and go further in business as well.”
Today he announces his new LP, The Everlasting Wave, which is slated for release on October 14. At eight tracks in length, the EP includes fan favorite “Blind Man,” with production from Hit-Boy, Louie Lastic, Thelonious Martin, and more.
We caught up with Xavier via phone this week just after his return to the states from London. During our chat, he told us about his latest single, “Grown Woman,” as well as what to expect from his forthcoming project.
Pre-order The Everlasting Wave on iTunes.
TUD: How are you, Xavier?
XAVIER OMÄR: I’m doing really great. How about you?
I’m well! How was FutureSNDS’ birthday celebration in London?
It was really fun, the experience. Their energy is top-of-the-line, so the performance with them was great, and then I got to enjoy [London’s] AFROPUNK the next day — not [as a] participant. I just got to watch and enjoy it with my friends backstage. That was the fun of it all for me, just being around my friends.
I was watching a previous FutureSNDS performance you did in London earlier this year, and they seem to really love you out there.
They are ridiculous. They come ready to just scream and jump and kick, and so, you know, you can’t not give them a great performance.
Tell us about “Grown Woman.”
I was really inspired by a person in my life, just seeing her work hard every day, whether she was in her business work attire or just chilling in whatever it might have been — like a Nike hat and joggers and just like chilling. She always looks beautiful. You knew she was driven and working hard. I was just really inspired by her and her presence in my life and her reaching all of her goals, so I decided to write that song, with her basically being the reason, and to celebrate grown women everywhere, because I knew that she wasn’t the only one who was working hard like that.
I was going to ask if you were inspired by some of your own experiences while writing this EP because it definitely feels very personal. Your songwriting has evolved.
The thing that’s most personal about this project is that all of these situations I’ve lived through. There isn’t a song on there where I’m just like, “Oh I just wanted to write a song for people to feel good.” You know, “I just wrote this because we needed a reason to dance and be happy.” I didn’t connect with the music unless it reminded me of a part of my life, a moment in my life, so each song comes from a very real experience. It’s kind of a continuation of that song “Honest” that I did a while back, a couple of the songs, and the rest of the music is really centered on one situation, much like Hours Spent Loving You was in the writing. I did a lot of growing on this because I shared much more than I usually would have and I’m hoping that people feel it and love it when they listen to it.
What does The Everlasting Wave symbolize?
In a lot of ways, it’s supposed to symbolize my stamp of longevity as an artist. I really wanted to come in and make my statement of me not just being a wave artist or just an artist that was only gonna work on one platform or one sound. I wanted to touch a lot of different styles within the R&B genre. I wanted to be extremely diverse, and I wanted to dig into subject matter in ways that I hadn’t before while still continuing to put my message forward of love, self-respect, and just really trying to shape the image of what I believe relationships could be.
The project at its core was me really making a statement sonically and in my writing as an artist, but when you listen to the music, it continues my message and it grows my message of love and self-respect and all of those things. I’m hoping that people continue to grow with me as I share more of my life and continue to share a lot of my viewpoints on these subjects and how to get through some of the heartbreak — or how I got through some of my heartbreak — and continue to celebrate women, continue to look through their faith to get through those tougher situations.
A few of your previous pieces of music make references to religion. Does The Everlasting Wave have more than one meaning? Is it a double entendre?
A friend of mine brought that up. I hadn’t thought about it that way. The Everlasting Wave was just supposed to be me and my statement, but the more I looked at it, I was like, “Wow.” “Everlasting” is sort of a word you only hear in sort of religious situations and religious conversations, so the more I looked at that, I was like, “Okay, I can see where it is, where it work two ways.”
God is everlasting and can always be here with us and [go] through things with us — The Everlasting Wave also being what I believe my career is, what I believe my music and my writing is. Those always converge. There’s never a point in my career where you can listen to a project and not find anything about God, but the same thing — you can’t find anything that isn’t about love in some way. Those things have always been present and they were always intertwined in my music, but when I did the title I was honestly just thinking about the statement I wanted to make musically.
How long had you been working on this EP?
Since probably, I wanna say, April 2015? And that’s a little saddening for me because I usually make two projects in a year, but this one was much more difficult coming off of Hours Spent Loving You. Because I write so much and record so much, I was a little bit drained. I was a little down from some emotional things that had happened to me, whether it was relationships or friendships that had kind of like fallen apart, and it just became harder to stay motivated to make and record music, so there are songs on this EP that are almost two years old, but they still needed to get to people. They stood the test of time as I continued to try to make more music.
I had an EP before. There are songs from that EP that are on this one. I tore the other one apart and just kept the best of it. Songs that you can hear a lot of that pain are from that time, from that era, and I needed to keep those because I know that they still hold true and can help somebody. So, you know, through the rest of 2015 and coming into early 2016, I really started finding my groove again in music. I was confident, so I was really able to go in and complete the music. There’s more songs that didn’t make it than did, so that’s the cool thing. It wasn’t like I only made eight songs [laughs] since 2015. I made a lot of music, but I just wasn’t satisfied with, “Oh, it’s good.” I wanted it to be really great, and I wanted to love it, so this is the first time I’ve loved every song that I’m putting out on a project.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremiah Warren
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