Exclusive Interview: pop artist VNCE on his new album Queer “I was never open & transparent about my sexuality…I felt I couldn’t live my life authentically”

LA-based pop singer/songwriter, VNCE (pronounced Vince) launches his honest, sexually charged new album Queer today, Friday May 8th. Working with his longtime collaborator Joe Pepe, pop multi-hyphenate z a c k y and fellow singer/songwriter Brooke Day, he’s produced some sizzling autobiographical summer anthems about his WeHo days and nights and getting over an unrequited love, like Bomb and SRY. Ahead of Queer’s release, The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann spoke exclusively with VNCE, aka Michael Remesi, about becoming more open about his sexuality in his writing, what inspired Queer and his musical idols.

VNCE. Photo by Jentrie Bentley.

James Kleinmann, The Queer Review: Hello VNCE, great to meet you! So, what are five things we should know about you?

VNCE: “Oh boy! What a loaded question! Let’s see…..I am a textbook perfect Cancer. It drives my friends crazy because they’re all Aquarius and we tend to butt heads a lot! But I still love those whores. I was born in New Jersey, but raised in North Carolina. My artist name VNCE is my middle name, and I got the idea for it when I was eating at Lady Gaga’s father’s restaurant in New York in 2017, I was summoning her energy. I’m very Italian but have been told that I can pass for many different cultures and I honestly love that. Last one. I’ve auditioned for shows like The Voice, X-Factor, and American Idol and they always tell me that I’m not cookie cutter enough for those show and I honestly also love that!” 

The name of your new album caught our eye and the songs live up to the name. Tell us about the concept behind the album and about some of your favourite tracks on there. Also, how autobiographical is it?

“Yes the concept behind the album is autobiographical and it’s pretty simple. Prior to Queer, I was never open and transparent about my sexuality. I always wrote my music in a very ambiguous way, leaving the interpretation open to the listener. Before writing and recording this record I relocated from a small conservative city on the East Coast to the gay Mecca of West Hollywood. Living back east, I always felt that I could never live my life authentically, the way I always hoped and dreamed. I always felt like everything I did was viewed and judged under a microscope. So I decided to head out west to pursue my music career…and to fall in love. Little did I know that the latter would be the harder task of the two!”

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Breathe you in til I hallucinate…🤪

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“I ended up falling in love with one of my best friends and those feelings were not reciprocated, which is now fine! He’s my best friend and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Essentially, this album tells that story. It’s the story of a man living in West Hollywood searching for love who gets submerged into a world of sex & drugs. My favourite songs on the record are the two main singles from Queer. SRY is the song that I wrote when I knew that my friend was never going to have the same feelings for me as I did for him. At that moment, I felt hopeless and taken advantage of and as the hook says, “I’m just feeling sry I met you.” The other is the final song on the record, Bomb. It’s a self-empowerment, sexy, club banger that speaks for itself: “I’m so fucking bomb!” I placed it as the final song, even though it’s the lead single because it is the happy ending (if you will!) to this cycle of finding love. Even though, I didn’t find love with my friend, I discovered self-love.”

VNCE. Photo by Jentrie Bentley.

Well, if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonnna love anybody else? Can I get an Amen. So, who did you collaborate with the album? Tell us a bit about working with them. 

“I collaborated with my longtime friends btwn – Joe Pepe of the amazing LA band Sleeplust, and his partner Zack Burke – on the bulk of the writing and production. Going into the project, I also wanted to collaborate with another one of their friends Brooke Day, who is an amazing songwriter and artist. All three of them brought so much talent and support into the writing and recording of this record. When I initially approached them with the concept, I was prepared for them to shut me down because it’s a very bold move and very explicit story and was afraid they wouldn’t want their names attached to it, but they embraced it with open arms and I can’t thank them enough for their support and talents.”

Which musical artists do you admire the most and did you have any in mind when you were working on Queer?

“My musical inspirations are Madonna and David Bowie. They are the epitome of reinvention and have sustained careers and success that I dream of having one day. I also admire their advocacy for the LGBTQ community. My inspiration for the project was a little different. The first musical genre that I fell in love with was R&B music. I’ve always been told that my tone and sound is The Weeknd meets Ariana Grande, which is a huge compliment. I love them both. When I started making this record I revisited and fell back in love with the R&B music that I loved growing up, most specifically Aaliyah. She was probably the biggest inspiration for my record.”

VNCE. Photo by Jentrie Bentley.

Tell us about your favourite LGBTQ+ film, TV series, book, play, music, artwork, or person – something that has really resonated with you over the years and why.

“Two of the biggest LGBTQ artists that I’m dying to work with are Leland and Jesse Saint John. They are responsible for some of my favourite music right now and it would be a dream to work with them both. Hit me up fellas and let’s collaborate.  My favourite LGBTQ TV series is obviously Pose; there’s not an episode where I’m not bawling my eyes out at some point! I also really loved Looking. That show was so relevant to my generation. As far as LGBTQ movies, a couple of favourites will always be The Danish Girl, and don’t judge me but I really loved, The Boys in the Band. Who doesn’t love a campy closet classic?” 

How can people keep up to date with what you’re doing?

“IG Baby! Follow me on the ‘gram @its_vnce.”

Where can people stream or purchase Queer?

“It’s available on all digital and streaming platforms on May 8th.” 

Queer by VNCE album artwork. Photo by Jentrie Bentley.

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