The Velvet cool factor 

Velvet delivers organic funky live house music for Whistler Film Festival celebration

click to enlarge Velvet Smooth Get into the smooth groovers of Velvet with Kuba Oms at the Whistler Film Festival Party on Saturday Dec. 1 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC).
  • Velvet Smooth Get into the smooth groovers of Velvet with Kuba Oms at the Whistler Film Festival Party on Saturday Dec. 1 at the Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC).

What: Whistler Film Festival Party

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 9:30 p.m.

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC)

Tickets: $15

Kuba Oms uses words like “cool” and spells photos “fotoz”.

The frontman for Victoria’s underground dance collective, Velvet, is as smooth as the band’s name suggests, and paired with an equally plush, sexy voice, Whistler Film Festival goers can expect one steamy, grooving night at the annual festival bash on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Garibaldi Lift Company.

“The crowd we attract is a testament to us,” Oms says from his home in Victoria. “We are pretty proud of our audiences and cool factor. They seem to be really there for the music — and you are bound to get laid.”

He laughs while flipping back and forth on whether to include the statement in our interview, then continues: “We have the kind of shows where the audience is so cool, you just start talking to a girl and you want to marry her,” he said.

Anyone who has witnessed Velvet’s weekly Sunday night residency at Steamers in Victoria knows what Oms is trying to get across. Velvet’s organic live dance music, produced by vocals and instrumentals, as opposed to turntables, attracts an artistic crowd as funky and groovy as the music they produce. The largely-improvised show draws from the finest elements of funk, soul, electronica, jazz, and rock ’n’ roll to create an electro groove entirely their own.

“Our music is intellectual, but it’s definitely got a sensuality to it,” he said.

Velvet is definitely getting into the groove of resort towns, with shows at Crankworx and the Whistler Film Festival as well as joining the soundtrack of Let It Ride!, a snowboard documentary on the life of Craig Kelly.

Oms performed solo after the film premiered at last year’s Whistler Film Festival. He recently finished a media blitz with the release of the DVD earlier this month, including interviews in New York.

“I would personally like to tour the States hard,” Oms said. “Because of Let It Ride! we are really getting followings in ski and snowboard towns. They can relate to what we are doing.”

Expanding Velvet’s sound beyond their Sunday night jams is not only a wish, but also a necessity these days with the eight-piece band’s Sunday hangout closing its doors to condo blueprints.

“We’ve been doing our Sunday sessions for more than a decade,” he said. “Improvising this live house music, we’ve been really lucky to have this platform to improvise and figure out this sound every Sunday. It’s certainly a rare sound. It’s not common anywhere else in the world. It’s a bit sad (about the closing), but it just means a new time for us.”

Velvet’s new time also includes a solo album from Oms. The not-yet titled album, produced by Waren Livesey of The The and Midnight Oil fame, will be released in the New Year, however, Oms will perform select tracks at the upcoming Whistler concert.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said of his solo album. “There is a Velvet remix on the end. It’s more dressed down. Some up tempo dancy stuff, but it’s also got some introspective slower songs. It’s all rooted in acoustic guitar, but with a full band. A lot of it was done live on the floor — like they used to do in the old days of Motown.”

Oms’s songwriting took off after winning the 2005 CMW National Songwriters Competition, adding to his already extensive credits. He has shared stages with the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Nelly Furtado, Blackalicious and The Beautiful Girls. Oms also sang with Joey Keithley on the last D.O.A. album.

In one word, cool.

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