Oct 20, 2023
Gino V’s unique ability to infuse his compositions with emotion, technical proficiency, and soul will shape and inspire generations of musicians to come.
In South Louisiana, we have a rich musical landscape with bands playing many genres of music. From rock to zydeco to metal and everywhere in between, the market is saturated with talented individuals all looking to showcase their craft to the masses, and in the ever-evolving landscape of music, there are those rare individuals who possess the talent and vision to create something truly unique. When I first stumbled upon the Gino Vallecillo (aka Gino V.), I was blown away because it was unlike anything I’d ever previously heard, and it did not fall into one category. It’s a little bit of pop with a little bit of soul and a little bit of rhythm & blues. To be frank, it’s just good.
Hailing from the town of Delcambre and stabilizing himself as a fixture on the local music scene in Lafayette, Louisiana, Gino V. has made a name for himself with various projects, including being a touring musician and playing in such bands as Sailor Mouth, Random Animals, HoleOpener, and The Band Forgiven. Gino’s diverse range of projects shows he is a man on a mission to be heard and seen. Multi-talented, Gino plays drums and sings, which is no small feat. With unparalleled skills and an ability to seamlessly blend various genres, Gino possesses an innate musicality—one that is sure to leave an indelible mark on the industry.
Born and raised in a musically inclined family, Vallecillo was exposed to a diverse range of music from a young age where he absorbed the various musical styles, forming the foundation of his artistic journey that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Having just released two new singles independently under his solo brand with the tunes “Shine” and “Back Home”, we were able to steal a few moments of Gino’s time to chat with him recently where we spoke about the state of the music industry as well as upcoming projects in the queue and what the future holds. Take a moment to read a little more about Gino V. and then be sure to check out his music on all streaming platforms.
MaM: Thank you for speaking with us this morning. We did a little research on you, and it is insane how many projects you have been involved with over the years. Tell us a little background and history on you.
GV: Well, my full name is Gino Vallecillo, but I shortened it to Gino V. because I’m Hispanic but grew up in Cajun Country. Since people have slaughtered my name my entire life, I figured it was easier for people to remember it this way. They can’t mess up Gino. I’m from Delcambre, which is south of Lafayette – about 35 minutes. I started playing drums around 12 years old but didn’t start playing on a kit until I was 14. I’ve been singing as long as I can remember, too, and I grew up in a very musical household where no one else played instruments, but everyone loved music.
My dad is from Honduras, so I was exposed to salsa, mambo, and bachata dance styles early on—a lot of Afro-Cuban stuff. He was also into disco and soul music, so I absorbed that influence as well. My mom was more into rock from the 50s and 60s and also into 90s country, so I have those influences, too. Now, my brothers were the ones who liked hip-hop and R&B, so that kind of changed me. As a youth, it helped me to create the gumbo, if you will, of influences that got me here. Initially, when I first started, I was gigging in hardcore and metal bands from the time I was 14 and 15 years old, and that went all through college.
In 2015, I decided to move on from the group I had been playing with for the past six years so I could start doing my own thing. I started trying to fill the pool with my singing again because I had taken a hiatus from it to focus on playing drums. I had been gigging in Lafayette in the heavy scene for a while but then decided to jump over to do more soul, blues, and R&B, which in Lafayette, oddly enough, is divided. You do have a few of us that do kind of catch every genre, but there’s so much out here including zydeco, which is huge.
GV: You can go out and see many genres in Lafayette, though, but I started taking the jump to do something different. Then in 2017, I started a band that I had initially hoped would be a dirty blues band, but it wound up taking shape to be more R&B-esque with a little rock influence. We were called Sailor Mouth. For about four years, I was in Sailor Mouth, and then in 2021, I was allowed to go on the road with a national recording act for about seven months. I got to experience the world and travel the country, and it lit a fire under me. Being out there inspired me, and I came across many musicians who had given their lives to other artists with nothing that was truly theirs. People don’t realize it, but the music industry is extremely hard. It’s one of the toughest industries to be a part of because it takes so long to establish yourself. There’s no security either. The best way to establish that security for yourself, though, is to have your own thing to fall back on no matter what.
MaM: So true … go on.
GV: After coming home from that road gig, I didn’t have my own thing anymore, so with the help of one of my best friends, we were able to write “Shine”. He has been super influential in my taking this next step. For the past year, I have written a ton of music and am sitting on close to 20 songs.
MaM: Oh wow, that’s a lot.
GV: “Shine” is the first release and I have some more music I want to release. My goal is to just continue to build my discography and try to elevate my brand. I have a lot of cool things coming up.
MaM: Do you find it’s more difficult to get your music heard these days or do you feel technology has made it easier?
GV: To be honest, I feel it’s a little bit of both. I use Distrokid and with that, there’s a lot of content put out because anyone can use it. I do think that because everyone is using streaming services our attention spans are not what they used to be, and for me as an artist, I don’t think I’ll be putting out a full record anytime soon. It would take so much of my time because I would obsess about every single detail including tracking and flow. I feel like singles are the way to go for me to establish my discography. I do like where technology is these days, but I think we’re on a different playing field than where it used to be with music.
MaM: I can agree especially with the whole attention span thing. I couldn’t tell you the last time I listened to an entire album. I keep my music collection on shuffle, so it’s ever-changing. It’s crazy to think how far the industry has come and to think about how much things have changed. Of all these bands you have played in, are any of them still active?
GV: Well, with Sailor Mouth, we are on a hiatus. A member moved and one had a baby and then I went on the road. Our guitarist is the guitarist for Wayne Toups right now, so he’s got that gig. Life just happened. I do still play for a very small circle of people currently. I still play for Ray Boudreaux. He’s a singer from Carencro and was on The Voice back in 2013. I also play for a soul singer out of Port Barre named Sarah Russo, who is incredible. I have a few projects. This is what I do full time and it’s what I want to do.
MaM: So, mad respect for the fact that you play drums and sing. I’m not gonna lie: It looks difficult. How do you stay coordinated? How did you hone that skill to where you are just rockin’ the hell out of it?
GV: Well, I think that it kind of started when I was younger. I was actually rapping and drumming when I was 14. I kind of dipped my toes into the water just to see if I was capable. Getting into the heavy scene, I found other drummers doing it in rock and metal bands. I got into Atreyu big time and Brandon Saller was a kick-ass drummer who sang. Underoath, Aaron Gillespie, another band with one who plays drums and sings. I was always inspired by it and wanted to do it. In 2016, I found Anderson .Paak and was very inspired by him, and I think that was one of the things in 2016 that gave me a kick in the ass when I saw him live because I knew I could do it. I wasn’t where I needed to be because I needed the mic time, but I knew it could be done. You’re not gonna get good at it unless you’re doing it constantly, so I’m always singing.
MaM: That leads me to your new song, “Shine”—how did the lyrics come about for it? The entire vibe is so strong.
GV: So, I had just come off the road and was trying to establish what I was going to do next. Josh, my homeboy, sent me the basic riff while I was on the road, and I had started messing with it. When I found the time to sit down, the song just poured out of me. The melody hit first and then the words came. The song “Shine” in general, I believe, is my outward expression of gratitude for the love I received from my partner. I went through some dark times in 2020 and I would have never gotten through them without my partner in my corner. So, the song is essentially that, but I think it’s up to interpretation, you know? It could be whatever that light in your life is, whatever that thing is that you can cling to that kind of pulls you out of the darkness when it doesn’t really feel like that’s possible.
MaM: I can definitely resonate with that. You said for the rest of the year you plan to release singles, but what are your goals for the remainder of 2023 and into 2024 and beyond?
GV: I want to continue to release music and I would love to do more on the local festival circuit. I’m going for Festival International next year here in Lafayette. I’d also like to do more road gigs … maybe travel through the Bay St. Louis area, maybe Mississippi, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and then go through Texas. The biggest thing for me right now is elevation. I want to take what I’ve been doing and do it on a new level.
As Gino Vallecillo’s musical journey continues to evolve, his future projects will undoubtedly push the boundaries of contemporary music even further. His unique ability to infuse his compositions with emotion, technical proficiency, and soul will shape and inspire generations of musicians to come. To check out the music of Gino V., just hit one of the links below!
DistroKid: Shine by Gino V. - DistroKid
*Cover photo by Gary Governale
Nicole Brice is a music snob. She loves discovering new tunes. Got something you think she’d like? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.