What do you get when you have 4000 auditionees, a cross-country open audition, a 14 episode series about the creation of a male/female pop supergroup, and a major television network?
The answer is Canadas first Boy/Girl supergroupVelvet Empire.
Velvet Empire is more than your typical pop ensemble. Janelle is a product of the Etobicoke School of the Arts, Lacey is a classically-trained pianist, Alex is a formally-trained actress and singer, Ryan has been singing in the church since the age of three, and Justin is a rock n roller who plays drums and guitar.
Auditions for Velvet Empire were held across Canada, taking the judges to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. "I really wanted to audition last year, but I just couldnt get off work," says Alex. "Being a popstar has always been my dream and I was literally waiting all year for the auditions to come back to Vancouver."
Nervewracking is the way most members of Velvet Empire described the auditioning process. "I was so nervous," says Alex. "This could be the key to my career and I knew that I had only one chance." Ryan, on the other hand, had a different opinion. "I didnt feel nervous at all. It was my first open call audition and I just did my thing and hoped for the best." And the best is what he got!
In their brief existence, Velvet Empire have teamed up with some of the most sought after songwriters, producers and choreographers in Canada. Some of those people include Juno-nominated producer Justin Gray (Sugar Jones, Wave, Snow), Sean Hosein and Dane Deviller (O Town, Jessica Simpson, 98 Degrees), John Acosta (Sky), and choreographer Luther Brown who most recently choreographed Alicia Keys performance on the 2002 Grammy Awards.
Velvet Empires full length debut can be classified as chic urban pop, with hints of hip hop and r&b, and their first single, "Frontin On Me", is an aggressive yet rhythmic masterpiece which should firmly place them at the apex of popular music today.
The full album was recorded over a four month period in Toronto at Metalworks Recording Studio, considered one of North Americas premiere studio facilities. "Recording the record was an experience I will never forget," says Janelle. "I loved the music and fell in love with every song!"
"We are all here because we love music and we love to sing," says Ryan. The album represents Velvet Empire as the epitome of the strong, solid group that they are. They are confident that their passion and drive will shine through.
The recording process kept Velvet Empire away from their friends and family for over four months. They lived together in a secret location in downtown Toronto. "We have certainly become a family," says Lacey, who was miles away from her hometown of Lethbridge, Alberta. "For the past four months, we have lived and worked together 24 hours a day. We are learning a lot about each other and the importance of teamwork."
The future of Velvet Empire already looks promising. "We dont intend to be a one-hit-wonder," says Justin. "We continue to grow musically as singers and as performers and we know that we have a long and successful career ahead of us!"