by Scott Roos
pics by Deanna Roos Photography
It’s official. In fact, it’s been official since October. Velours is packing her bags this coming January and leaving the “land of living skies” to try her hand at making it in Canada’s “center of the universe”: T-DOT, The Big Smoke aka TORONTO. If you’re a Canuck and you make it there you can make it anywhere. It’s a big bold statement from Saskatoon’s rising pop sensation. It’s a risk, but one she NEEDS to take in order to move forward. It’s so obvious, but it doesn’t shake the feeling that I have in my gut. WHY? HOW COULD YOU?
“What makes you think you can actually make it in Toronto?” I howl into my phone on behalf of all Saskie music fans. Velours is on the other end of the line with me for an exclusive interview. She knows I’m in journalist mode and that it’s my “job” to ask these types of questions. It’s honestly probably a question that everyone in my field wants to ask anyway but is probably too nice to ask. “Hey this is great news. How exciting for you. Good luck. Let’s talk about your new song. Blah blah blah”. Some of those interviews will probably go something like that. I want to cut the bullshit and just be straight forward for a second.
I don’t consider myself a mean guy but I know when I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back. Actually, then again, with Velours leaving, it’s not really a backstab. Her departure is more giving me pangs of guilt that I’ve taken a great young artist like her for granted. I’ve seen her shows only a couple of times. I wish I had been out to more. Velours is an artist that gets better every time she performs. Her stage presence and her songwriting continues to help her to skyrocket to wherever she wants to go. She’s in her early 20’s right now, so time is definitely on her side. If ever there was a time to make the jump to the big city, it's probably now.
All this aside, it’s an understatement to say that Velours has been an important artist to NSMZ. There’s no denying it. She’s one of the ESSENTIAL artists for our zine. I would stop short at saying that we were any part of her rising success. Velours is an artist that through sheer willpower and a double portion of raw talent has forged her own path. It’s been cool having that ringside seat. So, realistically it’s probably more or less that we probably grew up together if that makes any sense: NSMZ as a publication and Velours as an artist. “I love talking to you guys” she always says. I’d be a fool to disbelieve her. She’s an honest, genuinely good natured human but now it’s time to get real with her. So... HOW? WHY?
“It really feels like (with this move) I'm the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to furthering my career,” begins Velours.
Over the last few months in particular, since COVID restrictions have eased, Velours has traveled a lot to Toronto to take part in opportunities that only Canada’s largest metro center can offer. A move there to avoid the constant travel expenses just makes sense. Additionally, her manager is out there as well as many industry people she already knows. Let's face it, the music business tends to be all about who you know. The in-person facetime is probably going to be important when it comes to career advancement. So the infrastructure of support is in place. Time to make the leap of faith.
“For my career, everyone else that can help me further my career even more is already out there and is already helping me as much as they can so opportunity wise it makes sense. Also, the scene out there is iconic. It's an internationally known music scene so it'll be really cool to experience it and be a part of it and gain a lot from it,” continues Velours.
She’s not wrong. Saskatchewan, in my honest opinion, at least right now, seems to have a music scene steeped in raising up the next big thing in Canadian country music, especially for female solo artists within the genre. Tenille Arts and Shantaia come to mind as recent scene queens who shipped off for the greener pastures of Nashville, but, on the horizon, there’s also a slew of young talent like Justine Sletton, Morgan Robertson, Jordyn Pollard, and, of course, 2022 NSMZ artist of the year Katelyn Lehner. These are just a handful of great Saskatchewan born female country singer-songwriters that I can rattle off the top of my head. There’s a lot more of them I can assure you and they are all deserving of accolades in their own right.
So, are there opportunities for an artist to stay in Saskatchewan and make a go of it? Like, just in general? Velours blends 90’s grunge nostalgia, modern bedroom dance pop with light underscoring of a 70’s punk rock ethos. Is it realistic to think that she can stay? There certainly is a sliver of opportunity for anyone that wants to take hold of it but you can only take that so far here. It’s understood here by artists in every genre in Saskatchewan even though it’s a hard truth when you say it out loud. So here we go again, seeing off another young talent and telling her, in the nicest possible way, to not let the door hit her on the way out; not as a bitter slight but more as a term of endearment. It seems, for the time being, that many of us in the industry here have done all we can do to help Velours along. It’s time for her to level up but we also want to remind one of our own that our door is always open for her to return and play a show or two, too.
“I just want to thank everyone in Saskatchewan who’s found my music some way or another and gone out of their way to see me perform, stream/buy my music, and especially to message me or tell me in person how much my music means to them. This is where I've been able to figure out myself as an artist and I'll always be a part of the Saskatchewan music scene,” Velours concludes. She's grateful to SaskMusic in particular; namedropping the organization in a few times in conversations we've had.
Velours final Saskatchewan show before the big move is set for Saturday, Dec. 3rd at Amigos Cantina. Doors will open at 8 pm with Little Darkness and Landfall set to open up the night’s festivities. If you’ve ever supported Velours in any way, I’d encourage you to go out and give her a right proper send-off. She’s also just released her latest single “Flowers In a Wasteland” so this show will serve as the official release show too I believe. I’ve included a link to the song below.
In the meantime, on behalf of NSMZ I’d just like to encourage you Velours to keep following your dreams. You’re a dreamer and you have so much motivation to follow those dreams. Never give up. Keep moving on that upward trajectory so that we can say that we knew you when. By all means, keep your head up too, kid. The business can be cruel. We wish you all the best, Velours. Whatever that means…