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The city of San Antonio will be hosting its second-annual Mana Luna Festival this weekend, a hip-hop and EDM two-day concert with headliners such as Lil Wayne, Migos, Future, and Wiz Khalifa.
One name added to this year’s lineup is drummer turned rapper turned R&B singer, Xavier Omär. A self-proclaimed San Antonio native—since his music career started in the city—Omär’s festival billing marks a breakout career watermark. His influences are all over the dartboard, but he calls his music “pop soul.”
“There is pop and there is R&B and soul that work with each other; you could pretty much put a 50/50 slider between the two and listen to my project and watch it fluctuate from one side to the other,” he tells the Daily Dot. “It’s always within those two elements that’s the best way to describe it.”
One artist in particular illuminated his passion to grab the microphone, though: Like Mike breakout star Lil’ Bow Wow.
“The first CD I bought was Bow Wow’s second album, and it’s funny, because it was one of those things where representation made you believe you could do it,” the singer says. “I saw Bow Wow and I thought, “I could do that.”
As for his various musical talents? Those credentials you can thank his family for.
“My dad and my brother each play multiple instruments and sing, while my mom and my sister sing as well,” Omär says. “It was one of those things where it was the Jackson 5, and if you don’t have the talent, you’d be the outcast!”
Influenced directly by his older brother, Omär began mixing beats throughout his pre-teen years. After witnessing his brother take the stage in multiple school talent shows, his passion to sing rose to the surface.
The 27-year-old singer bounced around the scene from one opportunity to the next. In college his friends created a rap group, where his original stage name SPZRKT (pronounced Spazzy Rocket) landed him initial attention.
“At the time, artist Pharrell was part of a band called N.E.R.D., and lots of times in the dining hall MTV would play the music video for their song titled ‘Spaz’,” he says. “One part in the video included Pharell doing a signature dance, and when it played I would do the same moves. One of my friends started calling me Spazzy, and it stuck.”
This alias appears on Omär’s initial work. After they broke up, and Omär failed to find success in an American Idol audition, and he went back to the drawing board to re-create both his sound and himself.
“As a solo artist, I wanted to be able to immediately get people’s attention to press play, and to keep their attention once they did press play,” he says. “So, if you saw just SPZRKT, you don’t know what you’re about to get when you press play, and then when you press play you didn’t think it’d be that.”
Omär’s team landed on the decision to use his first name, Xavier, for this new path into the solo realm.
“No matter how people say Xavier, whether it’s Xavier, Javier, or even Chardonnay, everybody can spell it,” he says, laughing.
As for his sound, the move away from rap was seamless. Omar sites his musical influences across the board, including Cee Lo Green, Gnarles Barkley, Daft Punk, Chris Martin from Coldplay, and of course, Pharrell.
This idea of representation has stayed with Omär throughout his career, and it’s why he’s so excited to perform at the Mana Luna Festival. The two-day event not only showcases music from two genres, but applauds both household names and homegrown musicians alike that represent San Antonio’s unique culture. It’s a bustling urban center known for its food and basketball team, not so much its music. He’s changing that.
“I will be performing onstage just a few miles away from where these songs of mine were originally recorded,” he notes. “You know, I wasn’t born here, and I didn’t grow up here, but I have lived here throughout my career… I could have represented Chicago or Atlanta, these cities that have bigger names where I know people that work and live in those places—but I wanted to represent the under-represented,”
Samantha Reichstein is a former intern for the Daily Dot whose work focused on entertainment and politics. She's written for the Bump, the Nest, the Knot, the Austin American-Statesman, Austin Way Magazine, and Broadway World TV.