INTERVIEW: VELVET CODE TALKS NEW ALBUM, INKING A RECORD DEAL WITH SONY, HIS INVOLVEMENT WITHIN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY + MORE



Velvet Code was created in New York City back in the summer of 2007 and achieved success with his debut project Black. Blue. Blind, touring with Mindless Self Indulgence, having his music featured on hit TV shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore and earning an Independent Music Award for “Dance/Electronica – Song of the Year.” Not only an incredible maker of music, Velvet Code also uses his platform to shed light on important topics including LGBTQ+ and other civil rights issues – as well as mental health advocacy.

Over the past decade, the Canadian-born electro-pop artist, DJ and producer (real name Marlon Wurmitzer) has made his mark – both through his music and his message. Following a few years of writing and producing for other artists, Velvet Code returned to the studio to work on his own material with collaborator, industry pioneer and good friend, Wendy Starland.

Last April, after five years, Velvet Code broke the silence in a blog post to his fans:

"I’ve reached deep into my soul to expose the truth about my life as well as the lives I’ve observed over the last number of years. This is the most brutally honest version of me and I hope that you can all relate or gain some clarity and comfort in some small way."


Though the recording of his new album Dreamer was heavily influenced by a period of emotional turmoil, the album’s goal is to ultimately "lift and inspire all who hear it and remind people that there’s always positivity and light if we seek it."

He hopes that despite any struggles listeners may be going through, the collection of songs on the record will serve as a reminder that their dreams are still alive and waiting for them. Two months prior to the release of Dreamer, Velvet Code announced his signing with Sony Music Entertainment.

Musically, his inspirations include Madonna, Freddie Mercury and Muse – described as a modern take on 80s pop with heavy influences of EDM – while lyrically, he draws from personal life experiences. Dreamer is dedicated to Velvet's late father who passed away from pancreatic cancer last year and was written to spark optimism in today’s political climate. His desire to inspire hope extends beyond the music with his newly-launched gender-neutral clothing line – You Do You. 

Between signing to a major label, releasing his sophomore album, having a single on the Billboard charts and creating a clothing line, Velvet Code has been on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. Keep your eyes and ears open for his upcoming remix compilation album, Pride appearances and a future tour.

Q: You recently landed a record deal with Sony Music Entertainment – how have things changed for you since signing with a major label?

I was approached by Mark Berry – who has a small independent label here that is signed to Sony and he said “let’s work together, you’ll now be a part of the Sony Family.” It’s been really amazing. All of a sudden you have this big team of people that are going to push your efforts. I’m really excited. We’re just starting. We just released the Dreamer album, so we’ll see what happens. 

 
Q: You just released your sophomore album, Dreamer, can you tell us about the process and inspirations behind it?

I’m a dreamer. I like to write sad dance songs, but I have two sides to me. I’m a dreamer, I’m an optimist but I know life is not a fairytale. It talks a little bit about the struggles that people have gone through in the past and today with the hope that things can get better. Let’s just keep fighting for what we believe in, our rights and all that. That’s what the album’s really about – be a dreamer, be open, be optimistic.

Q: Your second single from Dreamer “Mary Offered Ladybugs and Love Yous” reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Dance Charts, what about this track do you think made it so successful?

It’s number 29 on Billboard right now! “Mary Offered Lady Bugs and Love Yous” is still my favourite track, we just released a remix of it with Barry Harris – who is a big remixer and producer in the world, very famous for remixing Whitney Houston and all the big stars. It’s a celebration of Pride. It’s starting to spread and I’m hearing people go “woah, flashback to the old days” and stuff, so I’m really excited about that.

If you read the lyrics, it talks about how your body is your own. It talks about the fallen heroes of the past, of the civil rights movement, of the LGBT movement, the AIDS movement in the 80s. It's really influenced by all of that but again, it’s hopeful. Despite all these problems that are in the world, even today, let’s just keep dancing and singing and have some fun.

Q: Are there any prevalent personal connections or themes on Dreamer?

All of it is personal – very personal. There’s a little bit of me in every one. I do draw from things that are happening to friends and people close to me but really, this is a very personal album. It took me a few years to write because every single track has elements of things that have happened to me.

Q: What do you want listeners to take away from your album?

Despite the problems we have, the crappy world we live in, sometimes – that there’s still hope and that we have to keep fighting. We’ve been down this road before – when fighting for LGBT rights, let’s not forget that we still need to keep fighting.

Q: Since you started making music, have you noticed a shift in the inclusivity of LGBTQ+ artists?

I still believe that there’s still a level of homophobia in the music industry but thanks to artists like Sam Smith, Troye Sivan and Ollie Alexander from Years & Years, they’ve been able to break through and be themselves. I really admire Troye Sivan and Ollie Alexander because they are dressing the way they want to, expressing themselves the way they want to in their music and it’s probably against the direction of industry people – and I know that one of the things that I have – and will continue to demand of my own music, is that I can do that.

Q: What is the message you’re looking to convey with your clothing line?

It’s called You Do You by Velvet Code – you can find it by just going to VelvetCode.com. I started it a few months ago and we’re just starting out and I’m looking to collaborate with a few other artists in Toronto and New York to create more of a diverse line of clothing. It’s basically an expression of be who you are, dress however you want, anybody can wear crop tops and leggings. If you want to wear a skirt, you should be able to wear a skirt.

Q: Your work is very socially conscious – including topics surrounding LGBTQ+ and mental health. How do you connect with your single “Break The Silence”? How important is it to destigmatize conversations surrounding mental health?

I suffer from anxiety, personally, and it’s been a struggle. I have some form of ADDs from time to time, so it is a struggle sometimes to keep things on track, I have to try my hardest. I have a regiment of things that help me, other people don’t have that luxury – they need to use medication, there shouldn’t be a stigma. We need to talk about it, it needs to be open and “Break the Silence” really touches on that.

Q: You credit Lady Gaga as having a big influence on your music and have worked closely with the person who first discovered her - Wendy Starland. What have you learned from working with such a prolific pioneer of the industry?

Wendy was my first writing partner in New York. She and I wrote my first song together for Velvet Code called “Say You Love Me.” We just have this magical connection and through her, I’ve learned so much about writing. She co-wrote seven of the nine tracks on Dreamer with me. She discovered and developed Lady Gaga back when I lived in New York, so I saw all that kind of happen – heard about it happening, and I had a chance to meet Lady Gaga and get to know her a little bit and she’s definitely a big influence. Again, she's all about being free and not letting anyone tell you, you can’t be who you are.

Q: You're performing at Pride Toronto and sharing new music, what's next for Velvet Code?

I’ve been really busy with this album and the remixes but there will be some shows coming up in July and a tour that we're working on. There will be a remix compilation coming out for all the eleven remixes of "Mary Offered Lady Bugs and Love Yous" in the next few weeks in celebration of Pride. A lot of them will hopefully be played in clubs all around Toronto.



Connect:
velvetcode.com
facebook.com/velvetcodeofficial
twitter.com/velvetcodemusic
instagram.com/velvetcodeofficial