There’s something heartening about learning that Omar Apollo was once told he had a terrible voice. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter with a dreamy falsetto and collection of love songs that swing between soul, pop, funk, jazz and alt-rock, has worked hard to build his voice, working shifts at McDonalds throughout high school to buy a computer and start making music. Ahead of his appearance at this summer’s Laneway Festival, we caught up with Omar to learn more.
How did you learn to make music? Just by listening to a lot of chopped and screwed music so I could understand what’s going on a little better and try to imitate it.
What inspires your tunes? My music is inspired by real-life experiences and others great musicians music like Alex G, John Mayer, Cuco Sánchez, and Neil Young.
Tell us about an inspirational figure in your life: My parents and extended family. They’re some of the hardest-working people I know, so when I feel tired and overwhelmed, they inspire me to keep going. They worked so hard to allow me to make music.
Your parents weren’t super convinced of your musical ambitions in the beginning. What do they think of your music now? They're super-supportive of my music now. They love seeing me perform – they record the whole time [during gigs] and show all their friends. They just want me to sing in Spanish more.
What’s your best non-musical skill? Probably cooking – my guac is unreal.
What’s the worst job you’ve had? McDonald’s. It was really cool and fun for three months because my whole school worked there (including some of my best friends), but then we got a new manager, and he was trash and killed all the fun.
What’s your favourite dance move? Hitting a spin.
What’s your favourite place to chill out? Probably my friends' garages back home in Indiana or random places outside where there would be couches and a fire going. Or in a parking lot.