Omar Apollo on Tamagotchis, Glowing Skin, and His New Album IVORY
Today, Omar Apollo released his highly anticipated third album, IVORY, which sees the 24-year-old Mexican-American crooner unleash his soulful, booming voice on tracks about everything from heartache to crushes and anonymous sex. Best of all, the album is everything that the Indiana native wanted it to be. After spending nearly a year on a previous version of the album, Apollo ultimately decided to scrap it, creating the final product from scratch in roughly three months. In the three years since his debut album’s release, the towering (he’s 6’5″) yet soft-spoken crooner has amassed a dedicated following: he now counts stars like Kali Uchis, C. Tangana, and Pharrell as his close collaborators, and Tyler, the Creator as his number-one fan. A week before the IVORY release, and in the midst of preparing for his upcoming Desvelado tour, the Gen Z heartthrob chatted with us about his diamond-encrusted Tomagotchi necklace, his upcoming tour, and how IVORY reveals a new side of him.
ERNESTO MACIAS: What are you trying to tell your listeners with IVORY?
OMAR APOLLO: These songs are more about longing things, and the complex parts of relationships, even the ones with your friends and family. I think that’s what is gonna feel new for people who are listening for the first time.
MACIAS: You’ve been promoting the release of “Tamagotchi,” one of the album’s singles, with a piece of jewelry that’s pretty sick, can you tell me about it?
APOLLO: Yeah. I got, like, this iced out Tamagotchi, ‘cuz don’t know, I’m irresponsible.
MACIAS: Where did you get it?
APOLLO: I have a jeweler in L.A. and he just made it for me, it was super sick. I wanted to be able to still use the Tamagotchi inside, so it’s kind of like this case thing—
MACIAS: Oh, it’s a working Tamagotchi.
APOLLO: Yeah, you can switch out the Tamagotchis.
MACIAS: How many Tamagotchis have you killed already?
APOLLO: They’re dead, but I have more around the house. I just bought a bunch because I wanted to have them in the videos, and now we have boxes of them everywhere.
MACIAS: That voice note you posted of Tyler, the Creator screaming at you to promote the song was hilarious. How does it feel to have that type of support from people like him in the industry?
APOLLO: That was great man—I mean, that lifted my spirits. I was having a bad day, and I saw that and was like, “I’m gonna just do what he told me, and promote the shit out of this song.” I played him that song a while back. He loved it, and when I dropped it he was super pumped. So yeah, it’s fire, man. It’s great to have that support. I loved his show—I saw him in New York with Kali [Uchis] and everything. It was nuts. Kali was amazing, I was screaming the whole time. When he picked her up I was like “Don’t drop her, please, don’t drop her.” [Laughs]
MACIAS: So, “Tamagotchi,” was produced by Pharrell. Who else are you super excited to have worked with?
APOLLO: I worked on the whole album with Carter Lang. We got really close over the pandemic and we made so many songs together, and that collaboration is pretty much why it ended up what it is now. I worked with a lot of people—Noel Goldstein, and my friends Many Barajas and Oscar Santander.
MACIAS: Like a project of old friends and new friends.
APOLLO: Yes, a good handful of people that I really trust and whose work I love.
MACIAS: Is there one song that you’re nervous to have people listen to?
APOLLO: I wouldn’t say nervous, I’m excited for sure. “Petrified” would be the one. It’s just one of my favorite songs, it’s really fun to perform. Also “En El Olvido” is one of my favorites to perform.
MACIAS: How do you think your fans that don’t speak Spanish are going to react?
APOLLO: The people who don’t speak Spanish learn the Spanish words at the show. I’ve seen them in the crowd, they go crazy.
MACIAS: What did you watch last night?
APOLLO: I was watching Arrested Development last night. It’s one of my favorite shows. Jason Bateman is the best.
MACIAS: Have you listened to his podcast Smartless?
APOLLO: It’s my favorite podcast. I actually went to go see it live with my friends. We were shopping downtown for some jewelry or something. Then I was like “Dang, I really want to go to this show, but I feel like none of my friends want to go.” They’re like “What is it?” I said, “Jason Bateman.” They’re like, “Bro, I love Jason.” So we got tickets and went.
MACIAS: I don’t know if you listened to the latest episode with Cate Blanchett. It’s hilarious.
APOLLO: Yes, of course, I know all the episodes.
MACIAS: Who do you stalk?
APOLLO: Stalk. Let me think—like who’s Instagram page I be typing in and stuff? Probably… Let me check actually. [Laughs] I can’t say—
MACIAS: It’s redacted then, OK. How do you get attention?
APOLLO: I make a call to loved ones and tell them to talk to me.
MACIAS: Do you talk to family every day?
APOLLO: Not every day, I try to. But definitely, when I need attention I’ll just—when I don’t feel like listening to music or a podcast when I’m driving—and in L.A. it’s a lot of driving—I’ll call somebody, and then once they hang up I’ll call somebody else.
MACIAS: What do you do when no one’s watching?
APOLLO: When no one’s watching I really don’t do shit. I’m just addicted to my phone, so I’m scrolling on Reddit or whatever.
MACIAS: Where do you spend the most time on your phone?
APOLLO: Probably TikTok, it’s so entertaining.
MACIAS: Yeah it’s addictive as hell, where do you keep your dirty videos?
MACIAS: Okay. Do you get shy on camera?
APOLLO: Hell yeah I do. I think. Well, I only get shy on camera when it’s not genuine. If I’m doing an interview on camera and I’m talking to somebody, I get awkward, like “Oh, look at the camera.” I can’t, that’s too weird to me. But if there’s a crowd in front of me then it’s a totally different story, I don’t know, I just turn it on.
MACIAS: What do you hate-watch?
APOLLO: I love bad TV honestly, and there are a lot of bad things I watch. I don’t want to what, because I don’t anyone to feel bad.
MACIAS: Do you like being watched?
APOLLO: No way, I think it depends on feeling. If it’s an environment of fans of course I love it, but if I’m at the airport—I got this hoodie on, you can only see my eyes. Sometimes you don’t want to be seen. That’s why masks are cool. I’m not trying to be perceived.
MACIAS: You’re getting a lot more attention, right? How are you adjusting to that?
APOLLO: Yeah, I was in New York recently, and that was the most it had ever happened in one day. I was like “Whoa, this is kind of fun. Like, this girl almost dropped her pizza when she saw me. I was like “Oh my god, don’t drop the pizza.” It’s cool, I mean I don’t have a problem with it.
MACIAS: When was the last time you lied?
APOLLO: All the time. I’m probably lying on the phone right now.
MACIAS: What’s the last thing you got in trouble for?
APOLLO: Oh, probably my homegirl. I responded to her texts like three days later, and she was like “Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you?” [Laughs]
MACIAS: I have to ask you—what is your skin secret? It’s always so nice.
APOLLO: Oh, thank you. I’ve realized over the years that if you eat things that are good for your gut, if you sweat, if you have motion—I started going to hot yoga—and you use a cleanser and sunscreen, there’s nothing else you need to do. And don’t over-cleanse, because I feel like it’s good to have the oils on your face that your body makes on its own. But I break out at times, it happens. If I post a photo on the internet, it’s probably not from a day that I had acne.
MACIAS: How are you celebrating the release?
APOLLO: Well, I’m going to be on tour. I’m going to be in Seattle, I think, and it comes out, and then I go onstage. That’s gonna be nuts.
MACIAS: Thank you so much for your time.
APOLLO: Thank you, you’re really sweet Ernesto.