Friends Like These: Bootsy Collins and Omar Apollo

The collaborators interview each other about their new projects, what inspires them as musicians and how Bootsy wrote his legendary tune 'What's a Telephone Bill?'.

With the global lockdown putting the year’s live music calendar on ice, artists have had to get creative. There’s been a host of live streamed gigs, beautiful sessions filmed in venues artists would never usually get to perform in, and some stellar collaborations that perhaps wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

We’ve seen Arlo Parks and Phoebe Bridgers covering Radiohead in a church, Taylor Swift recruiting The National‘s Aaron Dessner for her surprise album ‘Folklore’, and last month we saw NME 100 alumni Omar Apollo team up with funk legend Bootsy Collins for a groovy remix of his tune ‘Stayback’.

Apollo’s plans to reach out to Collins inspired his initial writing of ‘Stayback’. “I think I made ‘Stayback’ the day before I DM-ed Bootsy as I was just in that mode” he says of the songwriting process.

The day after it was written he slid into Collins’ Instagram DMs, and from there, the musical partnership blossomed.

“I was really digging it,” Bootsy says of the first time he heard ‘Stayback’. “You just hit a vibe! I didn’t even have to think about it at all!” He then worked his magic on the tune, and sent Apollo a new version a week later. The results are a funk-laced riot, fusing the two artist’s distinct styles.

For the latest instalment of NME’s Friends Like These series Bootsy Collins and Omar Apollo interview each other discussing their collaboration, what inspires them as musicians, and their upcoming musical projects.

“I haven’t been this excited in a long time,” Collins reveals about his upcoming album ‘The Power of the One’ (out October 23). “Especially with the conditions the way they are with lockdown. At first it threw me for a loop as it was like, how do I finish this?”

Halfway done with recording when Covid-19 hit, Collins was unable to work in his usual way (collaboratively in the studio). So, like many other artists, he turned to the internet to work virtually. “I think that’s why I think I feel really good with this record, as I put my all in it. And everybody who joined in…you can feel the people, you can feel vibe and it’s a good vibe.”

Meanwhile, Apollo explains that his next release isn’t going to be an album. “It’s not so much a full-length album the way I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to put out a full-length album and not be able to tour afterwards. So I’m putting out two projects.”

The first of Apollo’s upcoming projects will be nine tracks long. “Eight of the songs I made in quarantine and one I made the month before in Australia,” Apollo says, adding: “It’s all new shit!”

You can watch the full Friends Like These interview between Omar Apollo and Bootsy Collins above.

‘Stayback’ remix featuring Bootsy Collins is out now.

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