Streetsnaps: Xavier Omär
The musician shows off his practical style and talks growing to embrace R&B.
If it’s one thing that Xavier Omär knew he wanted to be while growing up, it was exactly like his inspiring and sonically-inclined big brother. Hence his somewhat uncanny beginnings in a homegrown rap group (naturally modeled in the likeness of his brother’s own) before eventually settling into the mellow in-between of R&B-meets-pop-meets-rock — which turns out to be a musical space that seems custom-made just for him.
“Really early on at about 11 or 12 [years old] I just started trying to mimic my brother. And I started getting love for music in general,” Omär said, his brown ASOS chinos, tour hoodie, and Converse Chuck Taylors seemingly as unassuming as his impending destiny. “I had no plans to be a singer. I didn’t think, at the time, I had a unique enough voice.”
More than a decade in the game has clearly changed his tune, figuratively and literally. Omär, who was formerly known as SPZRKT, has dropped five projects in the exact same span of years. Most recently, he dished out the 11-track album Moments Spent Loving You with longtime collaborator Sango last October, following up to 2015’s Hours Spent Loving You. And while he may not have consciously been influenced by his worldly upbringing as a military kid — recapping stints in Japan, Georgia and Maryland — it’s somewhat undeniable when listening to him croon soulful, gospel-inspired melodies tweaked with just a pinch of bubbly and a dash of bass.
“There’s no clear moments of saying I picked up this or I picked up that because I did live mostly in the south. When I was in Japan, I was legitimately kind of finding pop music in general with the radio,” he said. “The first song I ever heard on the radio was ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ by Destiny’s Child, so I remember that I was late to the game.”
“When we moved to Waldorf, Maryland, that was the first time I heard a difference in the region because of course they got go-go music in the DMV. And I was already a drummer so I gravitated toward that anyway, the bounce of percussion was always a part of my life,” he explained. “Then we moved to Georgia right at the time when ‘Knuck If You Buck’ and all those things are starting to go crazy. So I kind of moved into these areas where it probably should have been much more influential but to be honest, I don’t have moments where I can tell it’s a part of my music.”
His inspirations only serve as further proof of his diverse musical style, with Omär counting James Blake, Pharrell and Coldplay’s Chris Martin as three of his major influences. “Kanye as well, regardless of whatever has been happening the last few months and years,” he exclaimed. Because at the end of the day, the artist has always been led purely by the music, even if the calling may have been hiding from him right in plain sight. “I just know that pretty much everything that I’ve listened to comes out in my songs at some point.”
From his brother’s tunes to alternative rock, rap, R&B, and more — it’s all propped Omär up so he’s able to reach and connect with a distinctive fanbase. “Just seeing the impact [on my fans] with this music and this era of the music that we made, that’s what I’m excited about going forward,” he said. “Hearing their stories and just being happy that my music is a part of their journey.”