Avalon Young & Lee Jean – American Idol
Q) Avalon, on Twitter, you thanked the fans for their support, no matter what happened, and I was wondering if you had a feeling that you would be eliminated last night?
Avalon: I never, never tried to get too comfortable during the show. I think I always wanted to thank them whether I left last night, or I was going to win. I thank them before every episode because you never know what’s going to happen, and then, they’re the reason that I was there in the first place, so thanking them is always my priority.
Q) Lee, Idol must have been a big growth experience for a 15-year-old. Now that you have been eliminated, how will you expand upon the lessons you’ve learned from Idol?
Lee: This whole experience has just been an amazing, and you’re right, it has been a definite learning experience being here, aging a year, just coming here 15, leaving here 16, and just learning all the things that I have and being surrounded by these amazing people. From this point on, I’m just going to try to keep surrounding myself with positive vibes and people that I can learn from and just continue to strive no matter what I’m doing, honestly.
Q) So, we saw a scene earlier in the season of Tristan picking the song “Clarity,” and Scott Borchetta kind of totally shot the idea down, and it made her cry. She did end up with a great song choice that week though, so I want to know if either of you ever experienced anything like that on the show. Did you ever feel conflicted at times to sing a song you wanted versus what everyone working on the show wanted you to do?
Avalon: Yeah, I think I definitely had that moment. I sang “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes not last week but the week before. I was going to go in there and do a different song, and they suggested maybe I should step out of my box a little bit, and I was totally down to do that. And I tried it out, and it didn’t do too well for me, but I mean, I have no regrets. Ultimately, it was my decision, and I did choose that song. But to me, I think it’s always about the song choice, but more about how you sell the song.
Lee: Yeah, me being young, I’m not necessarily completely aware of what kind of artist I want to strive to be, so whenever I would go in with some songs, I would always try to keep an open mind because I never know what they’re going to throw out, and maybe it might sound good. So, I never had any real struggling conflicts about whether I should sing this song or this song because I always put in songs that I love, so if it was one song over the other, then I wouldn’t even mind because I’m just comfortable performing in general.
Q) Obviously, everyone this season is incredibly talented in his or her own way. But, La’Porsha has been a standout from the start even to the point where Kelly Clarkson blurted out, “She should win the whole thing,” when she was guest judging. I guess, did you guys sort of feel like it was almost a competition for second place? Was that a little bit disheartening to sort of have to follow La’Porsha every week?
Avalon: I mean, the way that I see it is you never know what’s going to happen. There were weeks when—for example, we have a good example. A couple of weeks, she was going right through and the first one to go through and then yesterday, we’re all kind of shocked, and we go home. So, I mean, obviously, I have all the faith in the world in La’Porsha. I think she is an incredible human. She is obviously a ridiculously good singer, but I feel like we’re not in a place to make any predictions because you just never know what could happen, and it’s all in America’s hands.
Lee: Yeah, I completely agree. Everything is just so random, and you never know who America is going to pick or why they’re going to pick them. But honestly, I never personally felt like I was in a competition with La’Porsha, let alone anybody else that I have been with in the competition because it was always just a competition with myself and just trying to further and better myself every week. I love everybody to death, so, honestly, whoever wins, whoever it may be, I’m glad that they won because whoever was there deserved it.
Avalon: Yeah, yeah. They’re good people.
Q) Avalon, was there something you learned about yourself or about the music industry that you will now take with you moving forward in your music career?
Avalon: Absolutely. I think the one thing that I’ve been touching upon a lot is that you have to believe in yourself. I think before I started this whole journey, I kind of just knew that I had a talent that I liked, and I really wanted to pursue it. And I remember my very, very first audition in San Francisco, I thought there was a 50% chance that I’d make it through, 50% that I was going home, and I really thought I was going home that day. Then there were times in Hollywood week where I left the stage crying because I was sure I was going home. And then, I made it to Top 24, and then there was Top 14 and Top 10, and then I made it all the way down to the Top 8. So I think as a musician and a human the best way to succeed in what I want to do in life, which is music, you have to believe in yourself and you have to wake up every day telling yourself you can do it because if there’s a day you tell yourself you can’t, you’re going to start believing that. So, whatever you tell yourself, you have to believe it, and I just need to tell myself that I’m the one, and it’s going to be okay.
Q) Lee, what was the biggest challenge you had to overcome during this Idol competition?
Lee: Honestly, the biggest, the biggest struggle I’ve had being here, and it doesn’t even have to do with performing in the competition or anything, it’s just making such good friends with everybody here and just having to see them go. Then being in this position myself having to say, having to say see you later, to all my friends that I’ve met here, and going from seeing them every day and spending so much time with them and just cracking jokes here and there and just doing work with them and having so much fun to not seeing them for God knows how long. So, I think that’s going to be the hardest part for me. It has been.
Q) Lee, since I’m the hometown reporter here in your hometown. Many of American Idol’s top performers who didn’t make it as the number one, into the number one position, of course, have gone on to bigger things, have gone on to successful careers. Are you hoping that this is what will happen for you?
Lee: As an artist, being in this industry, you can only hope for the best. So, of course, that’s what I’m hoping for, but honestly, this whole experience, for me, has been just a platform. This is where I literally started my career because I didn’t have much of anything before this, and now I have a following. So now, going forward, I’m definitely planning on capitalizing on my following and just having all the people that support me now and showing them what else I can do and try to put myself out there as much as possible and just progressing from this point forward.
Q) Lee, at the end of the show you mentioned being an inspiration to other young singers out there. It kind of seemed like you were, in a way, ready to say goodbye. That was just an observation. Can you comment on that?
Lee: I always try to prepare myself for stuff like that because you never want to—I didn’t want to put myself on the top and then be shot down and just have a whole scene on the stage. So I’m always ready to go home, and I don’t ever want to get comfortable being in the top. But I act like, as with my speech, or whatever you would call it, honestly, that’s one of the biggest reasons why I got into doing something like this because I’ve always been touched by people that can do what they love and have honest music and the people that could just write and make you feel something because they feel something, but it’s not necessarily the same feeling, but it’s the same. It’s sympathetic, and it’s empathetic, and I just have so much respect for people that can do what they love to do and, and people that can inspire other people to do what they want to do because they see it. I would love to be one of those people, and honestly, that’s what I’m going to try to strive for, for the rest of my life, to be someone who inspires people.
Q) Avalon, Jennifer Lopez’s comments on changing it up, were you surprised by that? Because, I kind of was surprised.
Avalon: I was a little bit surprised. I think I was surprised because prior to that, she had told me how much she loved the performance, so then when they told me to do something different, I was a little lost. But I just knew that there were only five shows left, regardless of whether I had left yesterday, or I had left at the finale, I only had five shows left. And if I’m only going to get to sing for America five more times, I just wanted to do my thing and have a good time and really be myself on TV, so that, when I did come out of the competition that I didn’t have to change anything or go back to being any kind of way. I mean, I’ve been myself from day one, and I remained the same as I was on that first audition.
Q) Because Scott was talking about how sick you were this week, I was like, oh, no. That’s always so hard to perform when you’re under the weather. Did they do a lot to take care of you?
Lee: Oh, yeah. They took me to the doctor, and they gave me a lot of antibiotics, but I had the choice of whether or not to perform this week because if I didn’t perform this week, then I was going to perform next week in the bottom three. But I chose to perform because that’s how it is in this industry. No matter what happens to you, the show goes on, and you must perform regardless of whatever is going on, so I just took that as a lesson.
Q) That is such a great attitude. And I have to give kudos to both of you because you both carried yourselves so well on the show, and that’s so hard to do at your age every day, especially when you’re working on your schoolwork at the same time. How did you balance all of that both of you?
Avalon: Well, I’m 21, so I didn’t have all the minor things going on for me, but this kid did.
Lee: We were required three hours of school every day, and it was a crutch at times, but I honestly think it was also sort of a benefit just because those three hours were just kind of a time to wind down from the competition, to not think about anything that had to do with the competition. You could read, or you could do math, and you wouldn’t think that schoolwork was relaxing, but in this kind of an environment, it was just kind of a chill three hours every day for me.
Q) Avalon, how important was song choice in the competition for you?
Avalon: I think song choice is the most important thing, that and the way you perform the song. But for me, it was really important because I think the key to going further and further in the competition is being different. You have to be different, and you have to stand out, or else you’re going to be boring, and you’re going to fade into the background. Song choice for me was just about picking something that—I knew that as a person, I was a little different than everyone on this show. So I was like, all I really have to do is pick songs that really exaggerate who I am as a person, and I think I did that every week. I’m happy with everything I did on the show; I have no regrets. I think it was an amazing experience, and I’m glad that I picked the songs that I did because it really gave me a chance to shine and do what I wanted to do and sing.
Q) So, what’s your post-Idol plan? I’m sure it’s a little early to you.
Avalon: Get back in that studio and I have to get back on the horse, start writing and recording and releasing again. I’m just ready to go up from here. I want to collaborate with anyone and everyone and go on tour somehow and work it all out.
Q) Avalon, last week, you also had to sing for the save. What was it like for you this week going in and singing in the bottom three again?
Avalon: It was cool because this week, I mean, it sounds unfortunate, but it was hopeless. I was familiar with the feeling, so for me to be standing there, of course, it was crappy. I mean, the worst part was just to know that not enough people out there voted. I think that was the bad feeling. The bad feeling wasn’t going home. The worst feeling was having to leave my friends. I think that was the biggest heart-sinking feeling. But, I told myself whether I was the first one to go through to the Top 6, or I was the last one to sing in the bottom three, I was still going to sing it the same way either way, give it five million percent. Because as a singer and an artist, if I get the opportunity to sing on a stage, I’m going to kill it every time, so that’s what it was.
Q) And you guys have been part of the farewell season of American Idol, and they brought back some previous contestants to sing duets with you. What was it like for you guys to sing with Ruben Studdard and Christ Daughtry?
Lee: Singing with Chris Daughtry, I couldn’t even tell you how amazing that was. He’s such a down-to-earth person, and his voice is just so—it’s Chris Daughtry. You can’t really describe him, but he’s just a sweet—I have his number now, and he’s just nice, so down-to-earth, and he’s so talented, so amazing. I feel like he really pushed me to better myself, especially in that performance.
Avalon: Yeah, same goes for Ruben. It was kind of just like they give you a big brother vibe, and it’s cool to be surrounded by people who just want you to do well. That was the funniest part about American Idol for me was that it was a competition, but everybody wanted to see you do your best. That was probably the most awesome thing about American Idol was I never felt like I was competing with anyone. I just felt like I was going through this crazy thing with a ton of my friends, and eventually people have to leave, but it’s the nature of this show. It was really amazing for both of us, I think.
Q) And you guys are part of the last generation of American Idol. What has been your favorite experience from being on the show?
Avalon: I would have to say just doing stupid things and having fun with everyone. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by people who get you, and it’s different because we all have friends and family, but we don’t have anyone going through that experience with us. It’s an experience you can’t put into words, so to have people go through it with you, you don’t have to say any words because you always understand each other and what you’re going through. That’s really important to have. So, that’s probably the best part about the show.
Lee: Yeah, just being here and being surrounded by all of these people and just, if you put x-amount of musical people into a room, they’re not going to do anything but make friends because they all love the same thing. So putting those kind of people in an environment like that just for so long and forcing them to spend so much time together—there’s been such a strong bond between all of us. Even the people that went home during Hollywood Week or the people that we met at the first audition—
Avalon: Yeah, I met my best friends in Hollywood Week.
Lee: Exactly, there’s just some really, really down-to-earth people, and I think I’m just going to miss that the most.
Q) I was wondering if there was a strategy—this question’s for both of you—if there was a strategy employed when you were choosing songs to sing on the show?
Avalon: Yeah, I think my strategy would be just pick something I’m familiar with and that I know I’m going to have fun with. I think the biggest key on the show, as dumb as it sounds, is just to not take anything too seriously. The moment you start taking anything too seriously, it doesn’t become fun, and that’s what performing should be for us as singers. We just want to have fun, and we want to enjoy what we’re doing up there. My key for song choice was just picking something that I was comfortable with and picking something that I liked and that would be fun for me. That was my key. What about you?
Lee: Definitely, my strategy, I didn’t really have a set strategy, but it was just be yourself because at home, I’m just so easygoing, and I just do what I feel just because I feel like doing it, and it’s what I love to do. So, I wanted to have the same mentality here, and I just wanted to have as much fun as possible and spend time with the people that I’ve grown to care about and just have fun because this is an amazing experience for anybody, let alone anybody who wants to be an artist for the rest of their life. So, I just tried to suck everything in.
Q) But were there any songs that you wanted to sing, but you didn’t get to sing?
Avalon: I think there’s thousands of songs that we wanted to sing. I mean, the list we chose from and all the songs in the world that we could just sing, it was, there were a lot of weeks that I had a hard time picking what I was going to sing because I was fond of so many songs. So yeah, I mean, there’s not a single song that I can name, but I know there’s hundreds and hundreds of songs that I would have loved to perform on that stage, but there are only so many performances you have.
Q) Was there a song that you had your heart set on, but, for reasons, you couldn’t get to sing it? Because sometimes, for instance, they can’t clear a song quick enough, that sort of thing.
Avalon: I actually got every song that I wanted this season.
Avalon: Yeah, I even got to for the time that I sang Justin Bieber “Love Yourself,” I was actually going to sing “Hotline Bling” by Drake.
Avalon: And they worked on getting that cleared, but it’s about finding a song that’s good and that you like, but it also has to vocally go somewhere for you. Like, for Drake, that’s a great song for him, but for me, I just couldn’t find a key and arrangement where it really did anything for me. So, yeah, they’re pretty lenient, and they’re pretty good at getting us what we need. I feel that’s something that a lot of people think we don’t have of control, but we have 100% control of everything we do on that show.
Q) The same experience for you, Lee?
Lee: Oh, yeah. Definitely. As being an artist and being a singer/songwriter especially, there’s a lot of songs that won’t clear because not a lot of people know them, and it’s kind of like an underground vibe kind of thing. So there’s a lot of artists that aren’t necessarily—they’re independent artists, and they’re making music, and I love the music, but they can’t be cleared or there’s some people that won’t clear because just for x-reasons. But I feel like every song that I sang on the show, I wanted to sing every song that I’ve sang on the show. Everything was a good choice for me, and everything was ultimately my choice, and I’m actually really, really proud of what I’ve put out this season.
Q) Avalon, we learned a little bit about, I think, it was about your OCD diagnosis this week, with the little eye-twitching you have every now and then and again. Did that affect you in any other way throughout the competition other than that?
Avalon: Honestly, no. I got a lot of interesting comments online about it, which doesn’t bother because I’ve had it since I was a kid. So, if they think they are the first to bully me, they’re definitely wrong. I grew up with this, and to me, it doesn’t bother me because it’s not who I am as a person. I’m Avalon, I’m not OCD, I’m not anxiety. I’m like a normal human, and it doesn’t take anything away from my voice. It doesn’t take anything away from my performance, and those are the only two things that I care about, wanting to be an artist. So, for me, the OCD is just such a minor, minor part of my life, and I’m glad I touched on it though, because I think there are a lot of girls and guys out there who are young, who are my age or younger, and they deal with it, too. It’s never really talked about, and I think it was cool for me to have a moment where I could kind of break it down and be like this is me, and I know a lot of you out there have it, and it is what it is, and if I can get through it, you can get through it.
Q) Lee, Jennifer mentioned that your nerves kind of showed through your performance a little bit, that she thought it was critical for you to sort of maintain your composure in that bottom three performance. I guess, were you especially nervous because of what was going on? I know, Harry often said you were a little sharp, so that can also play a role sometimes when you’re nervous.
Lee: Yeah, I would definitely say that I was nervous, and I don’t say that often. So that’s a statement. Definitely being here and just being in the bottom three, that was a little nerve-racking for me because that’s not something that I was used to because I’m sixteen, and I’m ill-experienced. So just being in the bottom three, it was tough for me. But I feel like the performance that I gave and the performance that I put out was definitely something that was from the heart, and no matter the nerves, or the pitch, or whatever was wrong with it, I just feel like everything that was right with it was right for a reason.
Q) Lee, this is kind of a two-part question, but are you looking forward to coming home for a break, if only a two-week break? And, if so, what is one of the first things that you’re wanting to do?
Lee: I’m definitely looking forward to coming home because I love being in LA, and I love doing all of this, and I love following my dreams, but I miss my friends so much, and I miss everybody that I would always spend time with. So, going home is definitely going to be a big smile on my face for me. One of the first things that I’m probably going to do is just lay down on my bed because I miss my bed so much. All the hotel beds are way more comfortable than mine, but it’s just the fact that it’s mine. Just being home and spending time with my little brothers and my friends, and my dad, and my little sister, and just everybody, I’m just going to be really glad to be home.
Q) I want to know if either of you heard from any of the stars of the songs you have covered on there. Did you get any feedback from Ed Sheeran, Lee, or do you think Chris Brown saw you do “Excuse Me Miss?” Who would have thought that song would be done on American Idol, Avalon?
Avalon :That’s exactly why I did it, just to kind of turn some heads. I haven’t been reached out to by anyone like that, but Justin Guarini did reach out to me, which was cool because I talked about him in one of my interviews, and I covered PYT this week, and he actually did that on his season too. So I got a toot from him and we’ve got some tweets from some people, and it’s been really incredible just getting that recognition from people we admire.
Lee: Yeah, I don’t—Ed Sheeran, I’m pretty sure he’s actually taking a break from social media right now. He’s just trying to focus on whatever he’s doing in his life, so I, unfortunately, didn’t get reached out by him, but I’ve gotten reached out by a lot of people that have touched me on a musical level. One of the main people was Chris Medina, and I loved his performance, and I loved how he dedicated it to, I think, his fiancé at the time, and that song really meant a lot to me. I’m so glad that he got to sit there and just watch my performance, and he actually tweeted me, and he followed me on Twitter, and he was like, you’ve got the stuff, man. And I was like, I cannot believe Chris Medina said that to me. Thank you so much. It was just ridiculous just seeing people that you look up to tell you you’re good.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your music?
Avalon: I guess, just thank you so much to everyone who voted for me and everyone who supported me. I mean, maybe we didn’t get enough votes for a couple of weeks, and that’s fine because I know there’s still people out there who love me and support me, and I love you guys just as much, and I appreciate you all and this is not the end of the road. It’s actually just the beginning of a new one. So, I’m going to get out there, and I will give you some new things soon, and it’s going to be amazing, and Team Avy forever.
Lee: I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart because I didn’t have much before this, like I was saying, and now, I have a following, and I have a platform, and now, I have music that I can share with you guys and people that will actually listen. Just thank you especially everyone back home who’s been hosting the watch parties and everything like that and donating to the fundraiser, just thank you for supporting. Thank you to the mayor. Thank you to Aaron. Thank you to Sturgis. Just everybody who’s been supporting me and just letting me keep following my dream, it’s been an amazing experience, and it’s been an amazing run, but it’s just the start of my first road, so hopefully, it’ll be a long one. And, yeah, just thank you from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t think of anything else to say or anything else that I could possibly say.