Omar Apollo Talks Being Young, Indie & Latinx | Up Close & Personal
Apollo is one of this generation's young Latinx artists to watch out for
Omar Apollo started making music just for fun, but now the 22-year-old has amassed thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram and has become one of this generation's young Latinx artists to watch out for.
The soulful indie singer, whose songs like "Ugotme" range from infatuation to love to heartache, didn't often see himself in the music he consumed growing up. What does he think now that he's helping grow a new wave of Latinx music creators? "Amazing," he told the Recording Academy in the latest Up Close & Personal. "I think it's cool seeing all these Latinx kids coming up and doing their thing."
Apollo stopped by the Recording Academy to talk about his Friends EP, his Mexican culture, being an independent artist, owning his own music and more.
Your instrument of choice is the guitar. When did you pick it up?
I was like 12. I was 11 or 12. I don't know. My parents gave me one for Christmas. It was an electric one but it didn't have an amp so I just went to the pawn shop and traded it for an acoustic one and I just started playing and started pausing YouTube videos and stuff to look at the fingers and try to copy it.
Do you remember the first time you ever wrote a song?
Yeah, my mom was always working and so was my dad, so I kind of wrote a song about them never being home when I was 11. It was really sad. It's like three notes.
Do you remember some of the words?
Yeah, but I'm not going to say them. [Laughs.]
Your latest EP is called Friends. Tell me the story behind one of the songs off that album.
I guess it's kind of like all thematic, the whole thing, kind of based around like ultimately just being friends with someone rather than [being together] romantically. That's kind of the whole thing.
Is there a song off the album that means the most to you?
"Trouble" means the most to me because every time I listened to it or play it live, it kind of resurfaces the emotions I had when I wrote it, so that's really special to me. I think it's hard to do that.
How does it feel to bring up those emotions over and over and over again?
It sucks bringing it up all the time, especially when you're overseas and just sad and then you just have to sing the song. You're just like, "Oh man." But a lot of times it's very exhilarating, like really therapeutic in a way. I kind of get lost in the character of when I was writing it. The person that I was at that time. It feels like two years ago. All those kind of memories kind of come back up.
What keeps you creative?
Watching TV, films, stuff like that kind of always inspires me to do things. And just other music.
What are you listening to?
I don't know. I have to look. It's so many things. A lot of the things, I don't even know the names. It's just cool songs.
You're a part of this wave of rising young Latinx artists. How does it feel to be a part of that?
Well, that's amazing. I always kind of thought growing up, I never saw anyone that was kind of embracing Mexican culture. I don't know, it just kind of made me think that no one would take me seriously so I think it's cool seeing all these Latinx kids coming up and doing their thing. Super cool.
How has your culture influenced you?
I think that it makes me feel very family-oriented and a wholesome kind of person. It definitely makes me want to let all the kids like me, first-generation Mexican kids, just do whatever they want and don't care.
You're an independent artist who owns their own music. How has that been?
Oh, that's cool. I see a lot of people that sign early or sign a bad deal. It kept coming up and you hear about things and I'm just like, "Man I'm so glad I haven't had to deal with any of that kind of stuff " and just kind of be able to say that I own the publishing, the mastering still, and [feel like] I'm not too worried about it. I'm good right now.
What is your greatest tool as an independent artist?
Being able to do whatever I want at any time of the day, whenever. I'm not tied down to [anything]. I can drop anything. I don't have to ask a label to do anything, "Can I do this, can I do this?" If I want to do something I just do it. I think that's the coolest thing. Not having them hold onto your album or work for a year before you can release it. I can drop something today if I wanted.
What's next for you? You're touring soon, right?
Yeah, November. I have some months off. Started picking up a few more hobbies. I'm making music all the time in between. I'm excited though because I have a lot of cool things planned with me and my band and just like the show in general.
Cuco On 'Para Mi,' Musical Tastes, MC Magic & Lil Rob | Up Close & Personal
Cuco's debut is here and he talks to the Recording Academy about one of the most meaningful songs on the albums, the sounds he's featuring and more
Cuco's debut, Para Mi, meaning "for me" in Spanish is exactly that: a 13-track album made by him, for him.
We've gotten to know the artist from Hawthorne, Calif. through his mostly dream pop singles and EPs and on his debut he highlights his diverse musical tastes even moreso.
"I like samba, salsa music, funk, jazz, soul, I like everything. I'm just learning to produce," he told the Recording Academy for Up Close & Personal about adding different sounds to his album.
"'Bossa No Sé,' I had that for three years," he added about the bossa nova inspired single. The album is the first with a label and while he's not longer indie he says: "I learned to value myself" about being independent.
Watch the video above to hear Cuco talk about one of the most meaningful songs on the album and working with idols MC Magic and Lil Rob.
Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images
Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Larkin Poe On Their Love For Local Snacks On Tour
Watch Rebecca and Megan Lovell, a.k.a. Larkin Poe, discuss their favorite parts of touring, which include trying local snacks and connecting with their fans
You know when you're at a party and the food is so delicious, you wish you had a little more room in your stomach? And if the host gives you a little to-go container when you leave, it's the perfect chef's kiss moment.
For GRAMMY-nominated roots rock 'n roll sister duo Larkin Poe, touring with legendary British artist Elvis Costello was a bit like this. As they explain in the latest episode of GRAMMY.com's Herbal Tea & White Sofas, they loved the gourmet cheese he had backstage so much, they'd wrap up leftovers in napkins to snack on later.
In the video above, watch Rebecca and Megan Lovell, a.k.a. Larkin Poe, discuss their favorite parts of touring, which include trying local snacks and connecting with their fans.
Photo: Rebecca Sapp | Design: F. Inomata
Backstreet Boys Talk GRAMMY Museum "Experience," 'Millennium' Legacy & Touring
As they unveil the interactive 'Backstreet Boys: The Experience' exhibit, we go behind the scenes with the GRAMMY-nominated boy band to look back on their 26 years together
On April 8, the Backstreet Boys visited the GRAMMY Museum for a very special evening; the preview night of the newest exhibit there, Backstreet Boys: The Experience. AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell all played a part in making the exhibit happen, sorting through old wardrobe trunks to choose which iconic '90s and '00s looks to put on display and sifting through the countless fan photos and homemade memorabilia they've been gifted over their 26-year career.
We went behind the scenes with the GRAMMY-nominated group right after they explored the newly set up exhibit for the first time, as they reflected on who BSB is today, their legacy, having fun in Las Vegas and their excitement for the DNA World Tour. Or, as McLean put it, their "biggest tour in 18 years," in support of 2019's DNA.
"I think [The Experience] is gonna surprise a lot of people, bring back a lot of memories…if you're a fan, this plays homage to you," Carter told us about the new exhibit. "[There's] a lot of things you can interact with, but just really cool things that remind people who the Backstreet Boys are and where we've come from, so it's a cool experience."
Speaking of looking back, the group also discussed the 20th anniversary of their record-breaking album Millennium, which was the best-selling album of 1999.
"Millennium is probably, to this day, one of the biggest album's we've ever had. I think if we weren't on the map by that time in most people's eyes and ears, we were definitely at that point," Dorough said. "I think that itself is what's continued the legacy of the Backstreet Boys."
Backstreet Boys: The Experience is currently on display at the GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles until Sept. 2. Learn how and when to have your special BSB experience on the Museum's website.
Judah & The Lion
Photo by Daniel Mendoza / The Recording Academy
Judah & The Lion On Choosing Hope In Tough Times: "Just Talk About It, And You'll Feel Less Alone"
"Choosing hope and choosing a way forward is something that we all have the power to do," the Nashville trio told the Recording Academy at Lollapalooza 2019
Nashville trio Judah & The Lion, a.k.a. singer/guitarist Judah Akers, singer/mandolinist Brian Macdonald and banjoist/singer Nate Zuercher, recently released a powerful third LP called Pep Talks.
Dealing with tough themes like death and divorce, Pep Talks covers some deeply difficult subjects, but it is also the band's way of connecting with audiences, who might be going through their own hard times.
"It's really wild what people are going through in life. People struggle, whether or not they admit it," lead singer Judah Akers tells the Recording Academy at Lollapalooza 2019. "People are going through stuff. And I think that music is such a beautiful way for us to express that. What we like to share is, 'You're not alone in this.'"
Akers went on, describing the way fans approach him to tell him how the band's music has helped them get through some difficult times:
"We had somebody the other day who came up to us and say, 'Your song really helped me out. I was wanting to commit suicide, and I listened to it, and I didn't want to anymore.' And I'm like, 'Oh no, dude, it's OK that you're having those thoughts, but go and talk to someone. Express the way that you feel. Somebody that you trust. If you can go to counseling, talk to a friend, talk to a sibling, someone that you love and trust.'
"Nine times out of 10, or 10 times out of 10, in my experience, that person is going to meet you with so much empathy and solidarity. And then you can just talk about it, and you feel less alone in the world. That's what we're trying to do as humans, is figure this sh*t out. Nobody's got it all together. Nobody's perfect. We're just going for it. Choosing hope and choosing a way foward is something that we all have the power to do."
Check out Judah & The Lion's interview in full above.