Xavier Omär has been on our radar for years, dating back to 2013, when he operated under his former moniker, SPZRKT, and yet with every new release, the soulful San Antonio native captivates us even further.
With his engrossing, comforting voice and music that places a priority on love and respect in place of the often misogynistic spirit of modern-day R&B, the Chicago-based singer and songwriter has been a voice worth championing.
Though his excellent last project, The Everlasting Wave, boasted no features, Omär has worked with some of our favorite artists and producers over the years, including Noname, Sango, Mick Jenkins, Masego, Thelonious Martin and more. That collaborative hot streak continued recently when Xavier linked up with DC rapper GoldLink and producers Hit-Boy and Bizness Boi for a pair of butter-smooth new singles, made possible by Red Bull Sound Select.
Nearly seven months since our last conversation with Xavier Omär, we caught up with the artist for a deeper look into the process behind his two recent records, his approach for making music with others, and what's next from the golden-voiced singer.
How was the process different working with Bizness Boi vs. Hit-Boy?
They were very different experiences. I worked with Hit first. I walked in confident and ready for the moment but it's still both intimidating and inspiring to walk in and see the Platinum Rihanna, Bieber, and The Throne plaques. We had no prior interaction so I didn't know what to expect for the vibe either, I just walked in focused. He went through his archives to see if I liked anything. There were some [beats] that even I knew I couldn't touch because how good they were. But one caught me and that record ended up being "Lost In Nostalgia." After that, he gained confidence in me and the next day it was very loose. He made a beat from scratch for me, which became "No Way Out.'"
With Biz, we already had mutual respect, so I walked in, dapped up the team, and we ended up talking for the first full hour. No work at all. After that, he started on a beat from scratch and I wrote as he worked on it. That became "Afraid." So the experiences differed, but both ended with great results.
Were you Bizness Boi, Hit-Boy and GoldLink all in the studio at the same time during the creation of the two tracks? Or were they produced over multiple sessions?
They were actually done a year apart in different locations, and GoldLink wasn't at either. There was a breakdown about the release of "No Way Out" and "Lost In Nostalgia." Red Bull allowed me to keep "Nostalgia" for myself and gave me an opportunity to make another record with them. That's what created the chance for me and Biz to work.
Do you approach a record differently with another vocalist—like the track with GoldLink—than one where you’re the lone vocalist?
Only if the other artist's vocals are already on the record. That way I can make sure I approach the subject in a way that they didn't and cover a wide range of thought. When I'm writing with a feature in mind and put my vocals on it first, it doesn't change my approach at all. In the case of "No Way Out," I didn't have a feature in mind. Red Bull said I could and should put a feature on one of the records. They even gave me a list of names [laughs]. But I asked for either SZA on "Lost In Nostalgia" or GoldLink on "No Way Out," and they made it happen with Link.
Do you prefer collaborating with rappers or working alone?
I think my track record would say I prefer to work alone, but at this point in my career, I would love to work with multiple minds and ideas. I tend to prefer singers over rappers because rappers have ruined many R&B songs over the years, but there are also times when I can't hear anybody else on the record but a particular rapper.
Your lyrics are emotional, and in the case of “No Way Out,” seem to point to a specific situation. How much of the material is based on actual experiences?
I'd say they're all actual experiences, but they aren't always my personal experience. I pull from friends and family often. I think of a situation they were in and try to be them at that time or the lesson I learned from their experience. I share my own pretty often as well in songs like "Afraid."
What can we expect coming up from Xavier Omär?
Relatable, honest, vulnerable music with a new perspective. Tours that are equal parts a serenade and a party. Actually, it may be more of a party. Expect juxtaposition and high replay value music.