You may recognize Apollo Liberace as the frontman of the group Minus Gravity, best known for their unique sound, style, and swag that blends the genres of hip-hop, rock, and R&B. But now, he’s excited more than ever to be focused on his own solo artistry.
Born in Maryland but having lived all over the world, including in Japan, South Korea, Atlanta, Texas, and now Los Angeles, Apollo draws influences from a wide variety of melting pots, and his vibrant energy shines through in his music and fashion style.
He wants his fans to be inspired by his passion and drive for music. “If you have passion for something, nothing should stop you or steer you off your course,” Apollo told All Hip-Hop. “Keep doing what you love, especially if you’re able to do what you love every day. Because there’s not much to this life. If you’re doing what you love, you want to be happy and remember that there’s people that aren’t that fortunate.”
This year on his birthday (Feb. 27), Apollo unveiled his self-titled project Apollo Liberace – a 12-track output that offers a window into his headspace when creating and exploring new sounds. He also has a forthcoming single, “Mondrian High”, with Tyla Yaweh, and multiple records produced by Bankroll Got It.
AllHipHop caught up with Apollo virtually, who just moved into his new spot in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss his transition into being solo, his favorite artists, the new project, love for fashion, friendship with Tyla Yaweh, and more!
AllHipHop: The first time I met you, I interviewed you as a group. What happened to Minus Gravity?
Apollo Liberace: We were together for 10-plus years, and people grew apart. People try to separate you, get in each other’s ears. If you’re a unit, divide and conquer shouldn’t really work well. Sometimes it does. People grow, have different opinions. They wanted to do different things. I’m still working, keeping it going.
AllHipHop: Do you feel signing to a major label took a toll on the group?
Apollo Liberace: No, not really. Because our business was so good that it really wasn’t even a big change to be honest. I don’t want to say some people don’t have the same drive, but it’s hard to keep moving at a pace, and keep people at the same pace as you want them to move sometimes. You can’t really expect that from people either, so I just gotta keep it going.
AllHipHop: How has it been going solo? Because being in a group for 10 plus years must have been a transition for you.
Apollo Liberace: For sure, a big transition. It was really hard at first, to be real. But I have my family around me and people I care about to remind me I gotta keep going. I had no vision of stopping, but having family and people around you to keep pushing you makes all the difference… especially on days you feel tired, they give you that extra push in the back.
AllHipHop: Talk about growing up in Maryland. When did you fall in love with music?
Apollo Liberace: To be honest, I don’t even remember growing up in Maryland because my mom was in the military. I traveled to a new school probably every year. I went to elementary school in Japan, I went to high school in Korea. I was all over to be honest. The longest I’ve been somewhere is honestly LA, I’ve been here 10 years now.
I started doing music at the church, singing in the church. Around the time I was 10, I started writing raps. I recorded a rap song when I was 10 years old, and have been doing it every day ever since. The love has always been there. My sister started it before me so that’s where I picked it up from, haven’t stopped since.
AllHipHop: Were there certain artists that made you want to be an artist?
Apollo Liberace: Lil Wayne definitely made me want to rap, for sure. Wayne was my favorite rapper – still is. My favorite album was Tha Carter II at the time, which is crazy because my second day in LA, I had met this guy. We had a video on top of Worldstar [Hip-Hop] at the time. He came up to us like “Hey wassup, what y’all do? Y’all outfits is cool.” I’m like, we just dropped some s### right now. He said “okay cool.” Checked it out, he’s like “hey, this s### is fire. Let’s go to the bar.”
We went to Skybar, had a few drinks. He said “I’ma come back, I’ma pick y’all up and we gon’ go to a party.” We know how the industry is, so yeah whatever n*gga. He pulls back up, we go to Mr. Chow. We pull up, we get out of the car and it’s paparazzi flashing already. We go in, I thought we’re going to a party. The restaurant’s empty, but it’s two security guys in the back. He’s like, “let me talk to them real quick, then I’ma come grab y’all.”
He comes back, the security guard let us us in. The first person I see is Birdman…it’s not that many people in a room. My second day in LA, I’m at the dinner for the 10th anniversary of Tha Carter II. My favorite album, that’s crazy. I was originally supposed to be in LA for two days, but that was a sign. I ain’t left since.
AllHipHop: Where were you living at the time?
Apollo Liberace: I was in Atlanta. I was in Atlanta for two years. Then, I’m like Atlanta’s cool, but I wanted to go to LA just to see the difference. After the Carter II event, I felt that was a sign…my favorite album, I’m smoking blunts with Wayne. I know he won’t remember me, but I remember that s### for sure…I was the only person in the room you wouldn’t know, it was only celebrities. That night was a subtle change in the course of my life for sure.
AllHipHop: How would you say your sound has evolved, from now to your new album?
Apollo Liberace: Oh, a lot. I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been producing everything I do now, so that’s a big difference from the ground up. Mostly live instruments. When I’m not in the studio having fun with a different producer, I like to sit down, get my friends that play instruments, and try to build something special from the ground.
AllHipHop: Definitely talk about your new album Apollo Liberace.
Apollo Liberace: It’s really a compilation of all the music I’ve had over the last two years. I wanted to put all my sounds on one project, just to get it out of my system. This is me, this is who I am. This is all of my sounds before I keep it moving. My album dropped about four months ago. It’s going crazy still, streams going crazy. I’m blessed, just ready to start dropping this new s###.
AllHipHop: Why did you name it Apollo Liberace?
Apollo Liberace: I went from Minus Gravity and I changed my name to Apollo Liberace, so I decided to self-title it. Minus Gravity records is now my record label.
AllHipHop: Why Liberace?
Apollo Liberace: Liberace, he’s a legendary artist. Mostly known for his crazy style. Flamboyant, in your face style. He would have diamond cars embroidered, all kinds of crazy stuff like that. Liberace means to me, in your face like all the time.
AllHipHop: Can you explain the cover art to Apollo Liberace?
Apollo Liberace: Perfect, of course. The first half of my name is after Apollo, the Greek god. That’s the most famous statue that he’s in, it’s called Apollo Bathing. I had this girl, she’s a really good artist. She hand drew that cover in pointillism style, which a lot of people see – but don’t know it takes a lot of time to create. It’s all dots. It took her days and weeks to do that cover art, she drew it by hand. Put my face basically where Apollo’s face is on the statue. That’s the cover art I went with.
AllHipHop: Talk about linking with Singer/Songwriter Tish Hyman, that’s my girl.
Apollo Liberace: Tish, that’s my dawg! I was just with her, she had a show at The Peppermint Club. I met her a few months after I got here to be real, so I’ve known her for 10 years. She was at a party I came to, there weren’t that many people there. Andy Milonakis and her were cool, I met him through her. He was part of throwing this event. French Montana performed, Ty Dolla $ign performed. Leonardo DiCaprio was there, a bunch of people. It was the biggest house and the biggest backyard ever, but it was only maybe 30 people there. It was catered by Nobu.
I just went up to Tish, we both had energy. I had got her contract there, she saw us working. Two years after that, one day she said “yo, pull up to my crib. Let’s work.” That was the first time we met, it’s been history ever since. I got 40 songs with Tish, was just at her crib the other night.
That’s probably my closest friend out here, to be real.
AllHipHop: How is it being back independent?
Apollo Liberace: It’s good. I’m building a new team, I got some new stuff coming out. New production, new producers I’m working with it’s really good. I’m excited for the next few months, for sure.
AllHipHop: Talk about your upcoming song called “Luke Cage,” produced by Bankroll Got It.
Apollo Liberace: I got 4 songs dropping with Bankroll Got It. The first one called “Lazy Flow” I’m dropping right now. Right after that, I’ma drop another song that Bankroll produced featuring my bro Tyla Yaweh. My bro Tyla is hard too, that’s my n*gga. I’ve known him for a long time too.
AllHipHop: How’d you and Tyla Yaweh meet?
Apollo Liberace: The funniest s###, I was at Fairfax flea market. Our name was BDS back then, we weren’t even Minus Gravity. He’ hopped out like, “yo, what the f###? Bro, I f### with y’all n*ggas. I heard y’all on SoundCloud. Y’all n*ggas hard.” We were fans of each other …this was a minute ago, 2015 2016. We stayed in contact since then. That’s my dawg, he’s a good dude.
AllHipHop: Do y’all party? Because I know he parties.
Apollo Liberace: Yes. The song is really called “Mondrian,” because we had a crazy f###### night there. He’s like
“bro, you remember that night at the Mondrian [Hotel]? Let’s call this s### ‘Mondrian’.” That’s the name of the song, because we got f##### up that day.
AllHipHop: Talk about your love for fashion. What inspires your outfits?
Apollo Liberace: It’s an extension of me. It’s an expression, just like music is. It’s a part of you. People should wear what they feel like embodies them, or embodies their character or style. Even though I don’t feel like that’s the case a lot anymore. We’re at an all-time absurdity level where people are throwing on s### to be extreme and get attention. But style should be who you are. An extension of expression of your art, style, and energy.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Apollo Liberace: Liquor, good energy, and good beats. Good production. Good energy is the most important.
AllHipHop: Did you ever think you’d be here today, doing this?
Apollo Liberace: Hell yeah. It was my only option, my only choice. I went to Arts Institute. One day in class, this teacher’s like “Yo, you f###### late and s###.” We had a guest teacher, he was a producer on “Goodies” for Ciara. I said, I was in my dorm recording. I’m sorry. He’s like “you record? You think you’re an artist? Play a song.” I pulled up a song in front of the class.
The song went on, he’s like “damn, this s### is a hit. Why are you here?” [laughs] I’m like, you’re right. Why am I here? That weekend, I packed up all my s###. I left college, and that’s when I came to LA. It was never another option, I was going to do what had to do to be out here.
AllHipHop: What were you studying in college?
Apollo Liberace: Music, I was doing engineering.
AllHipHop: Do you mix your own stuff?
Apollo Liberace: I used to a lot. I still do, I just don’t like sitting there. I tell the engineer what to do and what I like. I can, I do a lot of pre-production stuff. But as far as mixing and mastering, I like fresh ears.
AllHipHop: Talk about your friendship with Chanel West Coast, I know y’all are super tight.
Apollo Liberace: That’s a sister to me, that’s my dawg. Chanel is one of those people in the entertainment industry, that doesn’t really give a f### about it. To the extent of, she cares about people in our life. More than all of this fake b#######, because that’s really all it is at the end of the day. That’s what really makes me really f### Chanel the most. If her close friends can’t do something, they’re like “no Chanel, we got you. But your friends…” She won’t be f###### with that, and that’s the type of person she is. She’s a down-to-earth person that really cares about her craft, but is just a good person at the end of the day. That’s my dawg, that’s my sister. She’s a cool person.
AllHipHop: Bring us back to when y’all made “Versace Robe.”
Apollo Liberace: We went to Miami. We were staying at the Versace mansion. We were out there shooting another music video. We’re on a boat this day. We said, “let’s go to the studio.” We went to the studio. We’re supposed to be going out to LIV. We got in the studio and said “you know what, f### the club. This song’s hard.” Justin love came and hopped in. It’s my s###.
AllHipHop: Who are your top five artists in rotation?
Apollo Liberace: I always have [Lil] Wayne in my rotation. Always got Ye in my rotation – Kanye. I’m a real big James Blake fan. [Young] Thug dropped, so I’m jamming the new Thug. And myself. [laughs] I always listen to myself like homework, because it’s never good enough. I’m always studying myself, trying to get better.
AllHipHop: Any goals for yourself?
Apollo Liberace: Nothing grandiose, just to build what I’m doing. See a difference month-to-month, year-to-year. Keep growing, because I know how this s### goes. Just keep doing what I do, what I love. As long as I see growth, we good. I keep seeing growth, so I’m still working.
AllHipHop: Anything else people should know about you?
Apollo Liberace: People that don’t listen to me and people that don’t listen to me, just know I work hard. This is what I do every day and this is all I love doing. Got new s### dropping, shout out my boy Tyla. That single is dropping later this month (July 27). I got s### dropping every single month, because I’ve been working. Shout out Bankroll Got It, we got hella s### coming too. Platinum producing Bankroll Got It. I’ma just stay on everybody’s heads.