West Chester’s Gina Zo Finds Her Real “Voice”

Velvet Rouge
Gypsy-Rock Band Velvet Rouge Releases New Music

By Abby Wolfe, Entertainment Editor

Back in 2016, then 17-year-old Gina Zo of West Chester thought she’d hit the musical jackpot when she landed a coveted spot on NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition. While she’s grateful for the experience, Zo realizes that managers and record executives were encouraging her to become someone she wasn’t.

Now, Zo is singing to the beat of her own drummer. She fronts Velvet Rouge, the four-member band that is in rotation on WXPN following performances at Kung Fu Necktie, MilkBoy, World Café Live and elsewhere. Velvet Rouge’s debut EP Dark Hallways was released in October of 2021 and notched more than 30,000 plays on Spotify. The band released new music this fall and their cover of “Ocean Size” drops Nov. 4.

Zo feels that with a deep connection with her bandmates – Buddy Mazzenga, Joe McEnany, and Andrew Amado – allows her to openly collaborate. “There is an aspect that brings unity to your fans and followers when they feel like they can connect with you and be a part of the band with you,” Zo said.

The group started under the stage name Zo and quickly found their sound as a gypsy-soul-rock and roll group. After a personal evolution, Zo was able to fully commit herself to being in a state of “velvet rouge” with her bandmates and her fans. The group ultimately aims to evoke strong feelings from all listeners, creating something everyone can relate to, and everyone can delve deep into, especially women.

Just listen to “Make Me,” the group’s single that debuted at Johnny Brenda’s. As Zo put it, “that chanting of, ‘make me, make me be crazy, make me do what you want me to do. Let me show you what will happen when you try to do that.’”

Several of Velvet Rouge’s songs carry messages of strength, power, rage, temptation, and many more emotions with the goal being to find even one person who feels heard or represented. The process of finding these lyrics and these sounds is truly a group effort for the band. Each song, or creative venture, is treated differently to try and discover a new sound or new feeling.

Gina Zo and Velvet Rouge

Sometimes guitar hooks come first; sometimes lyrics do. Either way, each song comes together as a completely new entity, which adds to the group’s unique sound. A true mix of old school rock-and-roll, gypsy rock, and a little bit of heartfelt soul makes up Velvet Rouge’s discography. With each new song, Zo also tries to translate the group’s emotional journey. From their first meeting, to surviving the pandemic, to navigating relationships with themselves and others, each new story is one that listeners can relate to.

Why would an up-and-coming band like Velvet Rouge cover a song like “Ocean Size” by Jane’s Addiction? Well … because they can. In fact, the goal of doing the covers was to see if the group could recreate something truly great and make it their own while still paying respect to the original artists. What can listeners expect from a group that nods to the classics and creates something of their own? “You’re definitely going to be surprised,” Zo says.

Not only will listeners hear the experimental sounds, but they can see a truly experimental live performance. Show goers can expect a lot of dancing and entertainment, but the main goal is to hit a powerful, emotional performance. Zo personally wants to reach the women that attend her shows and hear her music.

Gina Zo and Velvet Rouge

“I am there to have fun with you, to entertain you, and to make you feel sexy again,” she said. “No one can tell you who you are. Only you can tell who you are.” Zo wants people to feel seen and heard. That is what drives her as an artist and affects the band for the better.

If you’re wondering why Zo and her bandmates chose Velvet Rouge to represent such a unique sound and message, you can credit to Zo’s synesthesia. While Mazzenga, McEnany, and Amado do not experience synesthesia, they can understand the concept of feeling color and associating it with certain feelings or emotions. When you hear Velvet Rouge, it is meant to embody, strength, power, rage, and warmth in the soul. After hearing songs like “Save Me,” it’s easy to get a taste of what is yet to come from the band.

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