Written By Behnam Vadi
San Francisco has always drawn talented musicians from all over the world and has been the epicenter for multiple genres like jazz, heavy metal, garage house, and even punk. The diverse landscape has allowed creative musicians to get together and form an eclectic and unique sound that gets stamped with an SF approval. I recently got the chance to sit down with Andre Cruz, lead singer from The Humidors, before their highly anticipated Guitarfish festival show. As someone who has resided in SF proper for over 25 years, and has seen the music trends come and go, my interview with Andre felt like I was talking to a lad who grew up in SF. Andre’s taste for liberal sounds, a bohemian lifestyle, and counterculture edge made it refreshing to speak to someone alike — which Andre would love to claim to be an SF’er. In my eyes, he is.
Behnam Vadi: Are you a Bay Area / SF native?
Andre Cruz: I consider myself a native even though I’m not from the Bay. Weir, LA is where I’m from. Moved to Bay 12-13 years ago, it’s where I went to college, found my voice, and where I found my music career. I want the locals to accept me as a native, lol!
BV: How was the transition from LA to the Bay?
AC: Being part Black / part Mexican it was incredible to be part of two communities in LA. But when I moved from LA to Orange County, it was not my scene. I’m the type of person that listens to everything – Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Tower of Power etc. Folks would say something like, your black, why aren’t you listening to hip hop or only reggae. So, once I graduated community college, I wanted to be somewhere that was the exact opposite of OC and that would keep me close to my family— San Francisco. As soon as I stepped out in Sf, it felt good. This is what I want to be part of.
BV: How did you get connected with The Humidors?
AC: I was part of a rock band before The Humidors, and watched them perform during a show. As I was watching them, I was like this is dope. They had the incredible instrumentation and they were so together. After finding out that they brought on a few singers, I reached out, told them what I do and would love the opportunity to sit in. They replied: what if you just audition, for real??
BV: Is your family musical?
AC: My all-time favourite musician is Stevie Wonder which I found out a couple of years back that my mom was pregnant during an SW concert, seeing him for the first time. Mom is a music lover. Cousins are musicians as well. I’ve had nothing but encouragement from my family since I was young.
BV: What lead you to sing rather than any other instruments?
AC: I started singing as kid, growing up. I was like 5years old singing the Key of Life. The guitar was part of my background until a gift guitar from my cousin was stolen from the back of my car. It was heartbreaking. I took it as a sign to go into singing. I love talking to people, the audience.
BV: What keeps you motivated to continue singing and pushing yourself to different levels?
AC: Things like this (Guitarfish Festival). Being on stage gives me that feeling that I get to do something I love doing. It’s about writing a piece that comes from the heart and sometimes with a political climate that I can deliver it to the world. Everything I’m doing feels like the right way.
BV: You came into a band that was established, how has the transition been for you and what type of hurdles did you have to overcome?
AC: It’s funny, because one of the things that keep me going and motivated and that really helped, is the sense of, do what you want. I would write songs for former bands that would be soulful or a little Stevie Wonder, and my band would want me to tone it back. With the Humidors, I’ll write something and do a vocal link, and they’ll encourage me to keep going, take it further, and further. My ideas are safe with them.
BV: Who was your first music teacher?
AC: Actual teacher, Kerry Dhillion. I was so shy as a kid. She helped me break the ice and raise my voice, building confidence in myself.
BV: What are your fondest musical memories?
AC: We had the opportunity to play Stern Grove, a massive venue / event in SF. Opening up for Booker T & the MG’s was like OMG! The kings of soul, right. After our set, I mean we left it all out on the stage, Booker T’s son comes up to me and says, “you’re a bad man”. It meant so much to me.
BV: Who are your favourite musicians?
AC: Stevie Wonder
BV: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
AC: I’ll be real. I personally believe no one is bulletproof. You can allow something to bother you at the moment, but as I’ve gotten older, I know my limitations. If I miss a note, I laugh about it. I’ll continue to work on mistakes until I can hit it
BV: Do you get nervous before a performance?
AC: When I was living in LA, I was a background singer. You can be nervous as a backup singer as the spotlight is not on you. My first show in SF, I was shivering on stage, bandmates were telling me to relax. I still get nervous, lol! Once I get on stage, everything melts away. I just tell myself, this is fun, lol!
BV: How often and for how long do you practice?
AC: We practice once a week for about 3 hours. Sessions can be anything from songwriting to recording jams, drilling transitions, etc. I love writing with my boys. Those guys can move fast
BV: A random funny question: If you could be a fruit, which one would you be and why?
AC: LOL,LOL! This is a really good question. LOL!. If I had to be a fruit, it would be a banana, cause I’m good for a few hours. Or I’d be orange, so I can share it with multiple folks.
BV: What’s next after Guitarfish for you / band?
AC: Bouncing between SF and Tahoe. Come check us out on 9/6 – Crystal Bay Casino and on 10/4 – The Starry Plough Pub in Berkeley
BV: If you can have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
AC: I’d be lying to you if I don’t think about this. I would like to be known as a band that gives a solid performance. If you see The Humidors, you will have a good time.
BV: What message do you want to give our audience?
AC: Thank you so much for being part of our journey. Please continue to support, we’ll keep delivering to you.
For more info on The Humidors go to: