Victor Cervantes, or 'VICTOR!' as his fans may know him, sat down with Roger Gallegos, Creative Director, of Emerald Studios during his trip to Dallas. Cervantes talked with Gallegos about culture, stereotypes and his growth as an artist among other things. Here is an excerpt from the conversation with him.
Roger Gallegos: So, how has Dallas been treating you?
Victor Cervantes: I like Dallas more than California… I mean, like Dallas more [attraction] than Los Angeles- it’s more chill, the people are nicer. In Los Angeles, people are very arrogant on the street.
RG: Really, what do you mean by that?
VC: I don’t know, they just dress like high-end, think they’re better and act like they’re too cool to acknowledge you.
RG: Well, what were you doing out in LA?
VC: I performed at The Smell and was working on music with friends, I was also working on some stuff with Cuco- so that was cool. We have a single coming out eventually.
RG: Oh, for real?! I’m waiting for that, that’s pretty dope! Would you say Cuco is one of your idols, as far as current music?
VC: Yeah- I mean he’s a pioneer in Chicano music and shit so yeah-
RG: I want to talk about your conflict with the stigma of violence in Chicago
VC: I was born and raised in Chicago, so I mean, it bothers me a lot. When people are not from there, especially if it's white people it just bothers me a lot when they're like, ‘oh, all you guys shoot each other up out there’. It's like, what the fuck? It's really wrong to try and strengthen these stereotypes about cities, because a lot of them are really inaccurate, and it's just really fucked up.
RG: Also, I know that you mentioned to me that Chicago is becoming gentrified- has that affected you, your family, or your friends personally?
VC: Yeah, because we try to curate spaces for people of color, where we can all come together and like work on projects and really just express ourselves. So, when those spaces get gentrified by white people, it's a really bad thing. Where else are we going to have our own space? I mean, we're always being discriminated against and, we really don't have a lot of room. I think we should at least be able to have these spaces where we can create, express, and heal. Gentrification has had a negative effect on our spaces.
RG: How do you use your platform where you’re at now to fight it?
VC: Well first- I don’t hate white people. If you’re nice to me, I’m nice to you. But I really like to showcase brown art, and show that there are brown creators out here working on stuff and that the industry isn’t dominated by just white people-there are people of all colors making shit.
RG: You talked to me about dropping out of school and just getting your GED, how did your mom feel about that?
VC: It was weird, it took like a month to convince her. The beginning of junior year I would skip school a lot, almost two times a week to go home and make music, and that’s how it started. If I didn’t skip school I probably wouldn’t be where I am. I mean, I’m not encouraging kids to skip school but I would skip school, go home, and just work on music.
I had a really shitty desktop computer and it was broken but I’d always be fixing it just so it could work. Also, I had one speaker so I wasn’t able to hear the stereo mix. Then my mom bought me my first pair of mixing headphones, they were like $100, and from there, my mixing has gotten better. My friends and teachers would ask why I wasn’t at school, and it was always weird trying to tell them I was making music because there was this doubt in the back of their heads like ‘oh you’re skipping school, you need to be in class’, almost like they thought I wasn’t doing anything with my life.
RG: You were being perceived as just another musician-
VC: Yeah, and I wanted to prove to them I was more than that.
RG: I know you said, as far as your sexuality goes, you identify as…
VC: I identify as queer
RG: You’re queer- and I also know you grew up in a Christian household
VC: Yeah, I still haven’t come out to my parents
VC: Yeah, and I do have a transgender brother, so that transition was really hard for my mom. She grew up telling us ‘you’re gonna be like this, you’re gonna be like that’ and you have to live up to this ‘holy’ expectation- and with that shit, it was really tough. I was really deep into the church stuff to the point I was kinda like brainwashed. I stopped going to church after I started making music. I started off music, at church actually, but being in that space got very toxic very quickly.
RG: So, what’s your next move, and are you happy right now?
VC: Well, I’m not sure when it’s gonna be published but I’m going on tour with Cautious Clay in September so that’s really cool. And yeah, I’m happy, I mean yeah- for my age and being in the position I am I think I’m doing well in terms of growth as an artist, so I mean yeah. It’s pretty cool.