Start your weekend off the right way by checking out our exclusive interview with popular singer-songwriter and #NSM favorite, Apollo Mighty.
Find out what went into the making of The Great Divide as well as what the project is truly about by reading our conversation with him below.
I’m sure just like I did, you’ll find that Apollo is a true artist who cares about the music he makes as well as a genuinely kind soul that pushes himself to be the best person he can possibly be.
Bryan: To those who are unfamiliar, who is Apollo Mighty? When did you begin your musical journey and at what point did you realize it was more than just a hobby?
Apollo: Apollo Mighty started as a character from my imagination. I used him to feel bold and powerful. Now, it’s just a name. Apollo Mighty is Darryl Simmons and vice versa. You can’t have one without the other. I’m a musician, a friend, a dreamer, and much more. As for the music, I always had a strong connection with music, but it wasn’t until after my senior year of high school that I started to think I could do this for the rest of my life.
Bryan: Obviously Tennessee is a big state for music, did growing up in Memphis have any impact on your decision to become an artist?
Apollo: None. Actually being from Memphis made the dream seem that much more impossible. But as I started to believe in myself more, I began to understand that it didn’t matter where I was from; but that I had the drive to get to where I wanted to go.
Bryan: How do you think you’ve changed as an artist over the years? Think back to your early works, do you think there’s a big change in your sound?
Apollo: I do, definitely. My voice has matured quite a bit. Thank God for those voice lessons. Also, I’m more aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I know where I need help, and I allow people who have the skills I don’t have to help me where I need it. At the core of my sound is still this rawness tied to soul and passion but now with even better technique. I think I’ll always be rooted in soul; but the more and more I write, I find ways to flex that muscle and showcase my ability in other genres.
Bryan: You recently released a new project with an accompanying short film entitled The Great Divide. What was the inspiration behind this project? Did you always plan on including the short film?
Apollo: McKenzii (my manager) and I had the concept for The Great Divide from a previous project that ended up being scrapped. When she sent me the tracklist from UK producer Lewis Cullen, I immediately felt that same vibe and decided to use that concept for this project. The overall idea was wanting something so badly and finally getting it to it not being quite what it was imagined to be or what was truly wanted. Halfway through the writing process, McKenzii approached me with a short film concept. We share a love of cinema. I fell in love with the idea; and we ran with it. McKenzii was the brains behind the short film though. She wrote it and pretty much produced it. I more handled the music and helped tweak ideas.
Bryan: What was making the project, both the album and short film like? How did it differ from projects from the past?
Apollo: For starters, this was the first project I worked with other writers on my own project. That was huge for me. I love lyrics almost as much as I love to sing them. So for me to bring on three other writers was a big deal for me. Most of the writers were friends of mine so it made the process fun and organic. Recording was a lot of fun too. My engineer, Kristan, is a phenomenal keyboardist. He helped me find some really groovy melodies for the backgrounds, as well as certain melody choices for the main part too. I couldn’t have done it without him.
The making of the short film was surprisingly really smooth. McKenzii had shot lists and schedules all worked out ahead of time. Mike Brown, who shot my first video, was also a huge help because of his artistic eye. The cast and crew we had were great and professional, which made for a truly incredible experience
Bryan: What is your song-writing process like, or is it different with every track?
Apollo: I always start off by playing the tracks over and over again for a few days. It allows me to see what melodies stick out. It gives me time to process it, make mistakes, and find the direction of the song. The only thing that differed with this project was that on the songs where I had co-writers, I went into each session with them with the goal of completing it right then. I had the framework (melody, concept), and I let them help me with lyrics and additional melodies.
Bryan: What’s your favorite track off this project?
Apollo: That’s a tough question. My songs are my children. I really can’t pick just one. I can say that the one I wake up singing most often is ‘Remember Me’, and ‘Priorities’ is the most fun to sing.
Bryan: Who are some of your musical inspirations? Any non-musical inspirations?
Apollo: Growing up, I really loved Musiq Soulchild and that whole neo-soul era. I was in love with India Arie, Macy Grey, Jill Scott etc. Pretty much any R&B from the 90s to the mid 2000s was my shit. To be honest, I’m inspired by it all. From classical music to Frank Sinatra to Bob Marley (especially Bob) to even dubstep like Pretty Lights and Bassnectar; I’m inspired by all these people, because I’m inspired by people in general. I think human beings and what drives us in life is intriguing and beautiful. I think if I had to pick one major inspiration though, it would be my two nephews, Marley and King. I don’t have kids of my own, but I hope to show them that they can do anything they want with the right amount of drive.
Bryan: If you could pick any song to describe your life right now, what song would it be and why?
Apollo: Great question. The first thing that pops into my mind is “Man In The Mirror”. Simply because the words speak so much truth about my current situation. I really want to be a great influence on the world, but there are some demons that I need to fight first.
Bryan: 2016 has seen a lot of great releases in music. Any favorites?
Apollo: Anderson .Paak is beastly. I’m really digging his vibe. I also love the new Chance project, Anti by Rihanna, James Blake’s new joint, TLOP by Kanye, and like most people that sweet Lemonade by Beyonce.
Bryan: Any musical guilty pleasures?
Apollo: If people saw what’s in my Apple Music library they probably wouldn’t know what to think. Haha I have playlist that has the theme song from Friends in it as well as the whole soundtrack for Waiting to Exhale. But I have no shame. So there’s some pleasure but no guilt.
Bryan: If you could tour with anyone, who would you want to tour with and why?
Apollo: I would have to say Ms. Lauryn Hill. She was who I grew up listening to and truly inspired the free spirit aspect of my music. She’s royalty and a goddess. I feel like I could learn so much from her. Also, I think her crowd could really appreciate my music.
Bryan: Any state or country you’ve never performed in that you’d really like to?
Apollo: I’m really interested in performing overseas in like France and the UK. I’d love to be on a few festival bills.That’s what I’m all about these days.
Bryan: What do you want listeners to take away from “The Great Divide”?
Apollo: The story has a moral to it. The grass isn’t always greener. What I want people to know is that it’s never too late to get your life back to where it needs to be. It’s never too late to get your priorities in check and put the people/things that really matter in perspective. Also, that Apollo Mighty is dope.
Bryan: What can we expect to see from Apollo Mighty in the future?
Apollo: More music, more art, more films, more love. I like to enlighten and uplift people. I feel like that’s my ultimate purpose. I don’t like the fact that so many of us are going through life numb, unaware of how grand life can be, and how important having/showing emotion is. With my music, I always try to make people feel something with the hope that they’ll see the beauty in that.