Do yourself a favor. Turn on the radio. Don’t listen to the radio? Listen to any of your music subscriptions—Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, whatever you prefer. Don’t have one? Log into your go-to free streaming service, like Soundcloud or Audiomack. No matter where you access music, you’re going to hear the same trend—a mishmash of popular genres combined to make one, undefinable sound. Soulful singing blends with clean, pop-esque synths, while bottom-hitting 808 drums connect with sharp, live instrumentation.
While it’s exciting to hear new genre-defying sounds, the main question now is, “what do we call it?” We’ve seen some names suggested, but no phrase sticks more than the somewhat lazy description we’ve seen run rampant on our Twitter timelines and in Soundcloud comments: “It’s a vibe.”
As accurate as that description may be, surely it’s deeper than that, right? Artists like Kaytranada, Sango, ESTA and others have become semi-stars thanks to this nameless music genre, giving them a larger platform and access to some of the biggest names in music. DJ collective turned curated culture house Soulection currently sets the standard of “who’s hot,” with hundreds of thousands of plays on every installation of their two-hour Internet radio show. Each episode features a guest talent or DJ playing the dopest sounds from around the world, including heavy-hitters and rising stars. It offers a unique perspective into how music is taking influences from different corners of the world, blending into a space where a new wave of artists can shine.
Xavier Omär is one of those artists. He has seen his popularity rise thanks to proper placements and amazing music. His unique blend of soulful R&B with jazz/ pop-fused instrumentals has turned him into one of the most anticipated rising artists in this constantly-evolving space.
Xavier Omär is one of the most anticipated rising artists in this evolving space
Once known as SPZRKT, the worldly Omär remembers working in a San Antonio, Tex. restaurant while dreaming of becoming a full-time singer/songwriter. Fast forward to present time and you’ll find his name featured on your favorite festival lineups and growing tours. That’s precisely why, as we continue our search to define a nameless music genre, we asked the game-changing Omär for help.
Check out our Q&A with Omär below.
CASSIUS: We’ve heard names like “Nu-Alternative,” “Urban House” and “Soultronic” to define the music you make. What do you call it?
Xavier Omär: I know there’s already TrapSoul, but I would seriously consider my music Pop-Soul. I think I tend to lean right between both extremes but never truly do one or the other. That’s going to be seen even more as I continue to release music.
C.: In an era where we are moving away from using genres to define our music, what direction do you see the music taking?
XO: Our generation of artists are weird in the way that we are heavily nostalgic but also want to create something new. So in that we get a lot of genre bending and blending. There will be even more of that as even the hard-set genres are taking a bit of whatever the popular sound is.
“Our generation of artists are weird…we are heavily nostalgic, but also want to create something new”
Country Artist Jason Aldean has trap style drums in his song “Burnin It Down” and raps in his hit, “Dirt Road Anthem.” Pop stars like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry look to rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Migos to add flair to their songs. So bending and blending is here and it’s only going to continue, even in hard-set genres.
C.: What or whom do you think were pre-cursors to this soulful, blended sound that artists like you and your contemporaries are making?
XO: I think it was the fact that we were the first to have MP3 players growing up. Picking any song at any time made us realize just how many things we truly liked when we were honest with ourselves. I believe this is what made so many of us not marry a particular genre, even if we have a foundational one.
C: With curators like Joe Kay and the entire Soulection team establishing themselves as the standard for introducing new artists and cultivating this yet-to-be-named genre—people often describe it as that “Soulection-y type of vibe”—how important do you think it is that they continue doing what they do? Or do you feel that the genre needs to identify itself apart from that collective?
XO: Soulection is a huge reason anyone knows my music even when they couldn’t say my old name, so I think they should keep finding and presenting new artists because it gives a much needed platform to this world. I personally don’t mind if we all called it a Soulection sound because I think that’s accurate and it’s descriptive as to what the music gives us.
C.: How has it been transitioning from SPZRKT to Xavier Omär? Did you have to regain fans who maybe weren’t aware of the change? Has your fanbase increased?
XO: It was really difficult in the early going because some people weren’t willing to cooperate with me about changing my name on some music I’m on. Also, there are people who just won’t let it go. But I was prepared for this because I DM’d Anderson .Paak about a week before the change and asked him how he dealt with his own name change and rebrand. He told me that it will be rough at first but if I’m confident in it, it’ll work out. So I’ve held on to that. As far as growth, at this very moment I just hit one million monthly listeners on Spotify.
C.: You just released The Everlasting Wave and you’re preparing to go on your summer festival run. What are you most looking forward to?
XO: Just the chance to continue to wow people with the live show. It’s just me and the DJ most days so I do my best to give people a big show as if I had a full band and no one has been disappointed thus far. It’s definitely not the show you’d expect. I’m excited to meet the people who are supporting me at this level. No major label, it’s just Never Sleep Music and me since 2013, so I have to go thank the fans and give them a good time.