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Hamilton: Vili V

The experienced blues vocalist wants to use his music to spread awareness about mental health.

Photo credit: Larry Frank

The first time that Vili Verhovsek heard the blues playing on his parent's record player, he knew that singing was his destiny.

"When I was a little kid, my parents had a record player," said Vili. "I'd hear all of these beautiful songs, and my imagination would just go. And I guess that's where that feeling started- that passion that led me to wanting to sing like that. My parents always had a bunch of music around, them and my grandparents, even though they weren't exactly musically inclined."

When it comes to musical inspiration, Vili looks up to the powerhouse male vocalists of the 50s and 60s.

"It was various. It was vintage rock and roll, it was country, gospel music, european music as well- it was a blend," said Vili. "It was hard to choose a specific genre, since I liked so much. My first big vocal influence was Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Frank Sinatra. I thought, 'Yeah, one day I want to do something like that.' Not to be cocky, but to affect people with that type of emotion and passion."

Graduating in the year 2000, the Mohawk College alumnus studied in the applied music program.

"One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to go was to learn theory," said Vili. "After that is when I began to write songs, my first debut album was distributed through the Mohawk Music community, which was pretty cool at the time."

Besides training to become a jazz vocalist, Vili enrolled at Mohawk to learn more about music theory.

"I was trying to write songs, at that point they weren't very good," said Vili. "Simple lyrics, simple melodies, stuff like that. I never created anything professional until college, where I learned more about arranging music."

Once graduating, Vili began his music career.

Photo credit: Taylor Brocklesby

"Now I have to hustle," said Vili. "Now I have to start getting shows. I had been performing part time before that, in competitions, getting people to know me. Then I started performing full time. It takes a while to build because you have to put yourself out there. Some people when they go to college they don't network or build their careers- but because I had been doing stuff prior, fortunately it helped when I decided to start marketing myself."

Vili started working on making a living out of music.

"I just love to write songs and arrangements, stuff like that. That's another reason why I wanted to take the course, to get better at that," said Vili. "It wasn't as hard for me to create a living out of my music because I lived at home until I got my footing, and over the years, I've been fortunate enough to be involved in some pretty amazing projects."

Although having difficulty choosing, Vili has a few favourite shows of his.

"I did a show one time with Russell Peters, I did a television show with various local hip hop artists like Maestro Fresh-Wes, there was a thing here in Hamilton where I sang for the cast of The Sopranos. Stuff like that- I got to tour Europe and North America, which I'd love to do a lot more of," said Vili. "I produced a show at Theatre Aquarius- I did the whole thing. I hired the band, I made the radio ads, I paid for it, everything. I put together a three-camera shoot- that was probably one of my best. Also playing in Slovenia in Europe, that experience was amazing."

The multi-instrumentalist would like to stay in Hamilton for now, but commute all over the GTA for work.

"For the last two and a half years I've dealt with severe anxiety and panic attacks, so I left Hamilton to go to BC for half a year. Right now I'm focusing on rebuilding myself. Because of my illness and other recent tragedies, I'd like to use my music a lot more to inspire and motivate people. Raising awareness for mental health, that's what I see myself doing a lot of in the future. Also launching my music online, and getting even larger."

Vili has released six albums over his career, and hopes for more.

Photo credit: Larry Frank

"Out of all of them, my most well received are probably Indigo Blue, and One From the Heart," said Vili. "I also did an inspirational acoustic album- that's one of my favourites. It's got all original songs on it, it's called The Journey."

Besides all of the projects that the vocalist has been a part of so far, there are still some musical areas that he has yet to cover.

"Maybe producing other artists down the line," said Vili. "I'd also like to write a book, I have an idea for a book I'd like to write- it would be talking about some of the misfortunate but funny events that you have to deal with as a musician, and then putting an inspiring spin on it. But for right now I'm performing at a lot of private functions, and really working on building different shows and projects."

Upcoming gigs:

May 12th 2019 @ La Grotta Blue, 25 John St. N, Hamilton, ON.


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