Local Gay artist set to release second music video, perform on Kelly Kim show
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
You might know him as Victor Cruz. You've no doubt seen him around - he's hard to miss. Victor, the local entertainer turned recording artist, is ramping up to debut officially as VELO (pronounced 'V-Low'), an out Gay Latino male who believes in power recovered.
VELO recently interviewed with SGN about his upcoming live performance, his second music video debut, and why he wants to put sexy - from a masculine perspective - in your face.
'Music sets you free,' VELO told SGN while drinking (water, not whiskey) at Neighbours Nightclub. These days he's sacrificing little pleasures like liquor because he's been hitting the gym hard, and it shows. 'It sets the tone for how you can feel in a split second.'
Meeting VELO at Neighbours (1509 Broadway) is appropriate. It's a nod to his personal journey from shy karaoke singer in 2009 to Seattle's Pride Idol in 2011. Winning the competition on the Neighbours stage, with friends and co-workers from his then-employer Gay City, catapulted him into a whole separate category of entertainers on the Hill. Opportunity after opportunity presented itself to VELO, who suddenly was getting booked everywhere from Julia's on Broadway and Lashes Cabaret at R-Place and Neighbours Nightclub to Elektro Pop! at Baltic Room. In many ways, VELO told SGN, 2011 was a formative year for him - not only as an entertainer, but also as a man.
He learned valuable lessons - what some in the entertainment industry would call 'paying your dues' or 'putting in your time' - and the knowledge and experience he gained has changed the way he approaches live performance, production, and where he ultimately would like to see this thing go.
If you spend more than five minutes with VELO, the first thing you might notice is that he is easy on the eyes. He's hot, and that is not something he is sorry for. 'Why should he be?' we discuss, coming to the conclusion that the time he has put in at the gym is becoming evident and that Gay men should never have to feel 'bad' for looking 'good.' Before you judge the guy, it is important to note that although VELO could get away with being cocky, it is just not in his nature. He's a personable guy with a wonderful smile. In other words, when you couple that personality with how current and relevant the music he chooses to perform is, it is not difficult to see that there is a market waiting for VELO to arrive. That market is made up of Gay men who aren't necessarily interested in all things drag - at least not all the time and all the same.
'Right now I'm working with a team of producers and writers and we've been recording some original music that just makes you want to dance,' VELO said, noting the change in direction that he hopes signals to club promoters, live venue managers, and the like that he is moving away from singing covers to performing original and unapologetic Gay material. 'It's feel-good music that you can't help but move your body to. Even the most avid non-dancer in the club will find themselves on the dance floor.'
'Everyone has that inner dancer waiting to get out,' he said, adding, 'Just let go and don't take yourself too seriously. Move with the music and the beat, and energy will take care of the rest.'
'Besides,' he continued, 'Having fun and smiling is infectious. That energy is a real thing on the dance floor. Ask any DJ, dance group, or vocalist who performs dance music inside of nightclubs - they will tell you the same thing. As entertainers we feed off the energy we get back from the crowd. If I'm not giving it I can't expect to get any back.'
In a world where, let's face it, the type of instant judgment that goes along with the nightclub culture that exists in venues that would book an out Gay man who is not performing in drag, didn't show up to dance as a go-go boy, and is scheduled to sing live vocals, is very real, VELO says he is hoping to capitalize on that and, if all goes well, change a few people's minds about sexuality, masculinity, and race relations along the way.
'Every time I perform I am making a political statement that as a Gay Latino male, I too can be visible,' he said, explaining, 'I like all of the different types of Gay men that make up the spectrum of our community. But I feel the hyper-feminization of Gay men is something mainstream white America wants to pin me into.'
To break free from this, VELO told SGN, 'in the lyrics, at performances, and when I am recording music video I try to incorporate masculine imagery to make a statement that Gay men also can be sexy, hard, rough, and even ugly.'
'I wanna be in your face in a sexual way,' he said. 'And if it is done right, it will be tactful and artistic.'
For many years VELO worked in HIV prevention and has witnessed how embedded HIV condemnation has played a role in the way some young Gay men feel about themselves, the community, and sex.
'When I talk to Gay men, be they a friend, coworker, or pretty much anyone, some of them tell me they feel weak, taken advantage of, and powerless,' said VELO, slightly changing his tone from super-excited to questioning. 'Through music I want to empower Gay men to feel strong, have fun, and be bold.'
VELO says that being a Gay white male is the definition of sexy within the broader LGBTQ community. 'Everyone is compartmentalized by race and there is a value that's placed with each one,' he said. 'In my music videos I am going to show that strength and boldness to send a message that no matter what you race you were born into you should feel proud and been seen and express yourself.'
'Plus, who doesn't like to watch sexy men all up on each other?' he asks, referring to the filming of his latest video for the cover he did of David Guetta's 'Sweat.'
'With all the political changes going on in regard to sexual orientation and race, I feel like I'm combining those things and using them as a strength to deliver a message and a good time,' he concluded.
To view VELO's first music video for the Black Eyed Peas' 'The Time' featuring local drag entertainer Donna Tella Howe, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz9eb8PNb2E, or to view his live performance of the same song featuring Mama Tits, Seattle's Skyscraper Hostess (www.PinkIsTheNewEverything.com), go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt2LfnnP1A8&feature=related.
VELO is scheduled to release 'Sweat' online for Kelly Kim's Twylah - The Startup Success Podcast (www.startupsuccesspodcast.com) on September 27.
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