Longtime Santa Clarita resident Jonni Apollo remembers his introduction to music like it was yesterday.
“When I was 5 years old, I was put behind my Uncle Louie’s drum set, and I still distinctly have that memory,” Apollo said. “I remember sitting there beating it.”
By 12 years old, Apollo had his own drum set, and by 13, he had joined his first band.
“It was a punk rock band,” he added. “I was playing with 18- and 19-year-olds, keeping up with them. So I was feeling good about myself, and from then on, I just knew I wanted to do music. How seriously, I didn’t know. I just knew that if I could do this for the rest of my life, I would.”
After graduating from Opportunities For Learning, Apollo started taking music classes at College of the Canyons.
“That’s when I started furthering my ventures into music,” he added. “I wanted to know more about music theory and the history of music to get familiar with it.”
From there, Apollo spent a couple of years breaking into the rap battle scene before taking his first hiatus from music.
“The first hiatus I took was unwanted,” he said. “When I was younger, I was heavily addicted to drugs, so I had to go through rehab. I was going through a lot of things, where it pulled me back from what I truly loved, and even thinking about it now I’m getting teary-eyed because leaving music killed me.”
Even so, Apollo pushed through, continuing to perform and make music following his recovery.
“I would reach out to artists and would collaborate with artists all over the world,” he added. “I had my very first catalog on Bandcamp. That was before anyone could get on Spotify.”
While his music was starting to gain some traction, Apollo said the fame began getting to his head.
“I was making decent money — not a lot — but I was paying my portion of the bills off of music, and I got pigheaded,” he said. “I was really egotistical though I didn’t mean to be. I was just young making money. … Then, in the middle of me about to blow to the next level, I just kind of lost it.”
Another hiatus came more recently, when Apollo took a year and a half off of music. “I was going through a really bad breakup, I was depressed and I was falling off the bandwagon.”
It was as if the universe was setting him straight, and once again, he was able to push through.
“But during that time, I didn’t know that I was rebranding myself as an artist,” he said.
Discovering Greek mythology, it was then that the name Jonni Apollo was born.
“Apollo was a poet,” he said. “He was known for his music and just being a really outgoing gentleman, and I was like, ‘That’s me.’ So I decided to align my musical experience with Apollo.”
For a month straight, Apollo studied Greek, dedicating a few hours each day to learning the language, the culture and delving deeper into the mythology.
“I learned Greek because I wanted to really incorporate the whole Greek scene into my music,” he added.
It was that love for poetry that Apollo’s younger sister Kristal Garcia saw as the beginnings of his creative side beginning to show through as they grew up.
“He would write stuff for the family or for my mom for Mother’s Day, and from what I remember, all of it sounded pretty good,” Garcia said.
Later on, when Apollo began to pursue music, Garcia said she knew it would be a good fit for him.
“When he started getting serious about music, I thought this is probably the best path for him because he loves it so much,” she said. “I could tell he’s really serious about it, and he’s put so much of his time and effort into music and pursuing it any way that he can.”
Through it all, Garcia, who’s younger by seven years, has seen Apollo’s struggles to get to where he is.
“It’s definitely been a long journey, and especially since I’ve been back home from college, I’ve seen a little bit more firsthand … how it’s playing out for him,” she added. “Seeing him from where he started to where he is now, he’s made so much progress, and I can definitely see him doing this for the rest of his life.”
Though it was hard to regain his progress in the industry, Apollo came in with a resolve to make it work, recently releasing a single titled “Chains from Apollo” before starting his own record label. “That’s been the biggest blessing.”
Now, he’s currently working on his third album, with the hopes of inspiring others with his lyrics.
“I want people to relate to my music because it’s not just a cool beat or a cool song,” Apollo said. “If you listen to my lyrics, I’m speaking about some deep things.”
For Apollo, music is a place where he can actually communicate with his audience.
“I want people to know that they’re not alone,” he added. “I just want people to know that my music is a place that no matter where they’re at, I’m there for them.”
To learn more about Jonni Apollo, visit @jonniapollo on social media. To hear his music, visit https://spoti.fi/31dWOb1.