Mad About… ApolloVII

Tom Atkinson

By Tom Atkinson

Tom Atkinson

13 Dec 2022

ApolloVII is a rapper and singer from East London, who embraces music of many genres from Afrobeats to Hip-Hop. Initially making a name for himself as a teenager, he built a fanbase, until he was caught in an incident at the age of 15. After moving away from music for a bit, he rediscovered his love of music through sound engineering.

He returned this year with the track ‘4am in Liverpool,’ and now is on the verge of building his name up again. We sat down with ApolloVII on a Wednesday afternoon and discussed his musical journey so far and his plans for the future.

4am in Liverpool’ is the first release of yours I found on your Spotify page and from what I read about you; it’s reflecting one side of your artistry. Will this be a standalone release or be part of a wider project?

I don’t want to give too much away, but really and truly ‘4am in Liverpool’ does stem from a bigger picture. It doesn’t just stand alone. In terms of whether it will be specifically on a project or not, I haven’t decided with my team yet. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what projects we want to release, and what we (can) afford. Other than that, ‘4am in Liverpool’ is a single to what people know now.

So, it’s you putting yourself out there, it is not necessarily building up to something. It might be building up to something, but it’s you saying to your fans ‘here’s me, here’s what you want.’

It’s me putting something out there to get the ball rolling again. I’ve been so dormant for two, maybe three years now. I haven’t really dropped any singles as such, I have only dropped features. This single was just for me to get the car started.

On Spotify, it says you’re called ApolloVII, which I didn’t previously know. What does the VII in your name mean?

The VII is my lucky number, literally as simple as that. But, Apollo, the reason I chose it at the beginning was because in the studio the interfaces we were using were called Apollo Twin X and Apollo usually controls everything. And that’s how I feel when I’m in the studio. I just started running with the name Apollo and then I found out it was a Greek God of music, poetry, and sunlight. So, it made sense, the dots were matching.

At the end of the day, your name has to mean something to you and it clearly does. Would you say you have a connection, not only to the rapping and singing side of things but also to the producing side?

I’d say sound engineering more, as I am not into production as of yet. In terms of sound engineering; heavy. The majority of my stuff is mixed and mastered by me, apart from ‘4am in Liverpool,’ that was done by Cloudio. I just indulge in the artist life and sound engineering life.

Who is someone that you’ve seen live that inspired you to make music before you were making music or inspired you to go harder or in a different direction?

The first person for me was Travis Scott. The way that guy performs is electric. He just controls the crowd without even doing much, I don’t know how. It’s motivational to watch and it is cool to see, as well. After seeing a few of his performances and Tory Lanez, it gave me an urge to want to push harder, so I can get to that stage one day. It was proper lit to see.

I get that. Travis Scott is someone whose audience come with an energy. Maybe a bit too much sometimes. It was bad what happened at (Astroworld) Festival.

I’m talking about Travis Scott in 2019 when I saw him perform back in the day. For me now, too much. There are way too many people going to one festival. I feel like the best performances and the best shows are the ones that are more intimate. The ones where the audience actually feels like they’re involved. They are not just there watching someone go crazy. But Travis Scott back in the day, his performances were without a doubt phenomenal.

Definitely. I remember I saw him back in 2018 at Reading Festival. That was a very good show and like you said it was very energetic, there was passion there. I can agree with what you say. When you have the more intimate shows, that’s where the die-hards are going to be. The people who are going to ride for you no matter what.

I think with those shows (big festivals), as long as it’s controlled; it is people being passionate and just showing the energy they have for an artist. I can imagine as an artist, seeing that you’re like ‘woah these guys are going crazy for me, they must be loving it.’

It’s true, a show is just an energy thing. From the audience to the performer, the energy is just transferred between the two, and energy always needs to be a balance. It can never be one’s higher than the other, otherwise the show wouldn’t look right.

In your bio, it states that you have a variety of musical influences: Davido; Don Toliver; Chip. Has having this variety of influences from a variety of genres allowed you to feel more comfortable in exploring other genres?

Yeah, because with me I have never been one to stick to one genre. Before I even wrote music myself, I’d always been (into) different categories. That’s mainly because of the friends I have around me and the people I was always around, everyone’s all different. Some people hang around with the same demographic sometimes subconsciously, it’s not a thing they do on purpose.

With me. I tend to find myself in so many different types of groups. One will like Reggaeton. I got a group of people that strictly listen to Afrobeats, a group that strictly listen to U.K. Rap and I got a group that listens to strictly Drill. If it’s not Drill, they don’t want to hear it. I’m a product of my environment, so I consume what is around me and I start listening to certain things I like. I guess that is how I got into different genres.

When it now comes to me trying it, I don’t feel like I am going out of the box too far, only because of how much I’ve listened to already. It feels like to me, cool I am experimenting rather than I’m going for a big leap, no matter what genre. I’ve tried House; I have even tried EDM. I have tried so many different types of genres. For me, it’s just fun as I love music.

You started in the scene from quite a young age. Did this allow you to find your path in the music industry earlier than some of your contemporaries?

I haven’t really thought of it like that. I guess because I started at a young age, I got exposed to a lot of things quicker than a normal human being. I feel like also there are a lot of things I am seeing for the first time. To be honest, to me everyone is young, but I still classify myself as young. I learnt that back then, and there’s still more to learn now. But, because of the knowledge I have already acquired, I feel that it puts me in a better position. I have experienced what it’s like (to have) weird teams or managers, weird people around you who pretend they want to do things, but they don’t. People that don’t care about your art, (don’t) pay you for your value.

I feel like every artist has to go through these things at one point. I’m glad that they (happened) early. I know some guys, unfortunately, they go through it at a later stage and that’s what makes them give up. You know when you’re a young kid, it is hard for you to be torn away from something. The whole world can tell you no and if your young you’re still going to be screaming ‘yeah I am going to do it.’ Whereas, when you’re older because you work off logic more, as soon as one thing goes left, you are like ‘cool, I’m done for the day,’ and you’ll move on to something else.

So, I am glad that I went through that rubbish before. Now, I’ve come this way and done all that, now I have no choice. I can’t quit because it’s a waste of all those years I spent learning. It’s a nice position to put myself in.

That’s a very interesting answer. I do get what you mean, when you’re younger, you are a bit more ‘f**k the world, I want to do what I want to do.’ When people come at you with criticism, your like ‘I don’t care, I want to do it anyway.’

Like you said, you’ve gone through the similar stages that other people have had to go through. I guess when you are older you know about the world, you know about the difficulties in achieving things.

You won’t want to tolerate nothing. When you’re older you know your value, you know your worth. In your head, you have this idea of life already fixed. When you are younger, that idea of life can still be painted and twisted. I feel like anyone can still do it at a certain age, anyone can still have the same willpower. But when you are older it is easier for you to just push it to the side. Only because you know life is more important.

You’ve experienced a bit of difficulty in your life; you were caught in a crossfire at a young age. How did that incident affect you on a personal level and how has it changed your mindset to challenges you’ve faced since?

To be honest, I feel when you’re a young age, as a normal kid you are not really exposed to all these things. When it’s your first time and it is so raw and devious, it can shock you for a moment or put you in a phase where you start questioning everything again. It has you questioning everything because at one point you thought life was all fairy-tale, fun, and games.

 When things like that happen, I realised there is still a bigger world out there, you don’t know what people are capable of. It made me just become more aware at an early age of my surroundings and life. This world is not just all about me. If anything, it’s about everything else but me. It just made me grow up older, I guess. All those situations I went through at a young age and there are so many things that allowed me to grow quicker. It’s not something that I wish for, but the only positive I can take from it is it widened my knowledge.

I think with life you have these moments, and they vary in severity. They test you in a way or there difficult moments and you have to overcome them, learn from them, and push on forward. I’ve never experienced something like that, and I don’t know how I would deal with that.

It’s just one of them things like what can you do? As much as you want to be like ‘ah what the flip, who did this,’ at the same time you are like ‘what can you do fam?’ It happened. You can’t actually go back in time and change. In the same way, where, unfortunately, some people pass away because they get to an old age, there are certain things in life you can’t change. Once it happens, it happens.

An incident like that wasn’t in my control, it was in someone else’s control. But, at the same time in life, everyone thinks differently. Not everyone has a good heart and thinks smart. Some people make dumb mistakes. I guess I got caught in the middle of someone making a mistake and I was the one that had to pay for it.

I think it’s good you’ve not let that incident define you or let it get to you. Like you said, you just happened to be in that situation, it wasn’t something that was directed at you. You’ve taken lessons from it and grown as a person, so it is good to see.

It’s true. I feel like that is the best way to see it because if we sit back just dwelling on life and so many things, we wouldn’t be able to go nowhere. We would drive ourselves crazy.

What would you say is the artist who soundtracked your 2022?

That’s a tough question because there are a few artists that I’ve been listening to (this year). For me, it is probably got to be Fireboy (DML). Funnily enough, he’s got a tape called ‘APOLLO.’ Every song he has been dropping has just been resonating with me because he talks real life. He’s not out here talking stupidness; he’s not boasting and stuff. He’s just talking real life and what he goes through. He’s relating to a lot of people. At the same time, it is a vibe. I like music where it has substance to it, but you can still dance to it in a club. It’s not every day that a song in a club makes sense. (laughs) There are loads of others, but Fireboy stands out this year. That sums up my 2022.

Fireboy DML is a very talented artist and because of the song he did with Ed Sheeran, now a lot more people are seeing his music. At the end of the day, as a person, it’s not everyday partying or everyday thought-provoking stuff. It’s a bit of both. For example, it is why I enjoyed Dave’s album last year a lot. It had stuff to say, but there was also energetic, vibey music. I think Rema did that as well on his ‘Rave & Roses’ project.

Rema is an exceptional artist. He’s something else. I like artists who know how to do that, they put the substance into partying. Someone who really started that back in the day was MoStack. MoStack would talk about some serious topics, but everyone would be dancing to it like it’s an anthem. MIST is also another one

What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists?

My advice would be to keep your head down. Take criticism, but don’t take it to heart. Also, just focus and stay tunnel vision. The only difference between us and the ones up there making it, living off millions, doing whatever they want to do is the fact that they didn’t quit. There still going, they are probably 15/16 summers deep. We are here after 4 summers, trying to give it all up, it doesn’t make sense. You just got to keep going no matter what. Even when you feel like ‘I am the only one going through this or there’s no one else that understands me,’ it’s like cool, if there is no one else that understands you then that should be a reason not to give up. One day, you want everyone to understand why you went through that, but you want to give it a positive outcome. The main thing I say is not to give up. This goes for upcoming artists, anyone in general, and whatever you are trying to do in life. You never know, tomorrow might be the day. If you give up today, you won’t know.

Everything in life takes passion and persistence. The people like Fireboy DML, Skepta, or whoever, they didn’t get the success they have overnight. They kept going and going. You must be persistent and give your love to the craft, whatever you are doing. Whether it be music, football, etc. That’s very good advice.

This life’s hard, so you just got to keep pushing.

ApolloVII is on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok