Brennley Brown, TSoul, Vanessa Ferguson & Hunter Plake – The Voice
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) For Hunter, I was wondering about your song choice this week. Do you regret it since you were eliminated?
Hunter Plake: I actually don’t regret it at all. When I went into this thing I really – I was – my mindset was, you know, if I won it would be cool but honestly at the end of the day I wanted to represent myself as an artist as well as, you know, honor people as far as whenever I did the covers of the songs. And with this one, with the U2 song I honestly just wanted to do something for my hero. My hero is Bono, he’s like one of my biggest – he’s probably my biggest influence in the music industry. And so I actually don’t regret it at all and I’m not even sad about going home. I’m actually really excited about the future and I’m ready to drop music.
Q) Could you describe the process of choosing your Save Me song?
Hunter Plake: Yes so it was just like a predetermined list of songs and we just had to pick two songs off the list. And I had that one and I had a song “Water Under the Bridge” by Adele was my second song so that would have been like – let’s say I would have went through like the other, like one round and then got saved. Or if I had to go through the last chance like maybe in the Top Ten round and I got saved then my next round would have been “Water Under the Bridge.”
Q) Why did you choose that song instead of “Water Under the Bridge”?
Hunter Plake: I picked both and so they just picked which one they wanted me to do for the first one.
Q) I’m wondering how much you think the Instant Save is about the contestants’ performances versus the coaches’ arguments on your behalf? Because Adam made a great point before voting that if Jesse made the finals he’d be the first one chairperson to ever do so. So I’m wondering how much you think that swayed the vote since it’s a big deal to break a record like that obviously. So let’s start with Brennley.
Brennley Brown: I believe 100% that the coaches’ argument has a huge role in whether or not, you know, you move forward. I think your vocals and your performance do – are very important but I do think, you know, with the fight that the coaches give I think that has a huge role in it all. And I think, you know, America kind of may choose, you know, according to the comments by the coaches. But at the same time, I think we all did our very best in that moment and that’s all we could have done. So that’s all I’d say about that.
Hunter Plake: I think that the coaches do have a big sway in what they say but I think a lot of it too has to do with the Twitter followings, you know. Adam has a butt load of followers on Maroon 5 and on his personal and, you know, that has a big – I mean, it would be really silly to say that didn’t have a big, you know, say in what happens. And I’m really happy for Jesse. I’m really excited for him and I’m so glad that he got saved. He absolutely killed that song last night, “Tennessee Whiskey.” That was actually my favorite song he has ever done on the show. So when I listened to him I was just thinking like man, like he’s going through. And, you know, I thought it was – I thought it was awesome.
TSoul: From what I’ve seen on the, I mean, Mark got saved quite a few times and Vanessa being saved, I know the plea that Alicia Keys made for Vanessa was one that was amazing. I know the one that – the plea that Adam made on behalf of Mark and Jesse were amazing. But Gwen really fought for her artists last night too so I can’t say it’s all really the coaches. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things that allows the outcome to be what it is.
Vanessa Ferguson: Yes I agree with TSoul and I think that I think it’s a combination of things. I do think that America, they kind of know who they want and who they want to go for. But then if a coach gets up there like my circumstance where Alicia said, you know, not voting for me would be like not voting for her, you know, when someone goes for you that hard I think that has the ability to sway some of the viewers, you know, if they’re not necessarily a fan of me but then they’re a huge Alicia Keys fan, you know. I think that can sway some of the voters sometimes. But I definitely do think that your performance has a lot to do with it, the type of song you pick with a faster song maybe being a better option a lot of times, and then, you know, how you go out there and perform it obviously.
Q) TSoul, you mentioned yesterday that this experience has allowed you to grow as an artist and a person. Talk a little bit more about that. How?
TSoul: Oh wow. Well I mean, I’ve been doing music for a while now and each new level has required me to see a new me and this one I think has done the most work. I said way back at like Battles and Knockout time, after Knockouts that I feel like I’ve grown like three years in this journey already and it has just been months. And I mean, as a person, you know, we meet so many people that are going to be lifelong friends. We develop these, you know, real, real, real relationships that make you be a better person. And since we’re all extremely talented it makes me a better artist too. Like everybody here, it required me to project the best me every time and every time that happened I was able to see a new me. I think my progression in the show, for me it got better every time. Every time I did something it was better than last week and then the next one and that carried on all the way up until the end for me. With the live performance of “I Wish” I felt like that was the best thing I had done on there.
Q) So how much input did you have when it came to your overall stage presentation, your songs, your concept on staging, your wardrobe, and what has it added to your artistry?
TSoul: As far as my involvement, I think I’ve been able to 100% be me every time I went out there and that’s what I appreciated about this. A lot of the times I sent in, you know, songs in advance of how I wanted to do songs. And a lot of these classic songs that I did, I did them in a way that I wanted to do them and I’m glad that, you know, Blake allowed me to do that. The wardrobe department was kind of A-1. They took the little bit of style I thought I had and like enhanced it to like 1000 every week. And that made me excited because I mean, just like everybody was excited to hear what I was going to do next, they were excited to see how I was going to look next, you know, and what the environment was going to be. So the whole Voice wardrobe and the staging staff, everybody, they did an excellent job each week with everybody. They put on like Grammy type productions and award show type productions every week with us and I mean, I’m thoroughly grateful for that.
Q) What about you Vanessa?
Vanessa Ferguson: So yes we definitely have a lot of say as far as what goes into our performances be it fashion or any kind of props or anything, any choreography. If there is anything that we want in particular we can definitely express that and kind of get some of those things. For instance, you know, my hugest influence is Michael Jackson so I mean, he’s actually the reason for my Fedoras every day. And so, you know, I just pretty much let wardrobe know what kind of style I was going for. And then my other huge influence is Whitney Houston and so I was able to wear a nice gown, you know, for my last performance. That was pretty amazing too. But I had some other things, I said hey I want steps next time, I want this, and they’re like hey, you know, we got you, stick around. So they definitely just want to see your vision, what kind of artist you are or want to be, and they expound on that.
Brennley Brown: I think The Voice does such an amazing job with allowing you to be the kind of artist, you know, you want to be on stage from your wardrobe and to the stage production and the lights and everything, hair and makeup. So it was really so much fun to kind of explore. My style as a country artist, I love cowgirl boots so that was something from the beginning that I was like can we always – can I always wear cowgirl boots? And they were like yes totally. And they brought in a lot of cowgirl boots so I had a lot of fun with that. But honestly it was so amazing to kind of watch my vision for the song come to life on stage every week and from wardrobe, the hair and makeup, I had just a blast. And I’m so incredibly grateful to The Voice for just man, kind of like TSoul said, it was very week it was like a Grammy performance. Every single person’s performance was like a Grammy level because just the production and everything. So just so grateful and it was amazing to kind of watch my songs come to life on stage every week.
Q) Brennley you brought up a good point. I noticed the cowboy boots every week and I loved them. I was wondering did wardrobe let you keep any of the pair of cowboy boots?
Brennley Brown: I love cowboy boots and I literally wore them every single performance. Every day you guys I wear cowboy boots so I felt really comfortable in them. And so like I said, I brought up from the beginning I was like I kind of want cowboy boots to kind of be my thing, you know, and just wear them all the time and have fun with it and change the colors up and buckle boots and just have fun with it. But to your question a lot of them were actually my boots so I would obviously, you know, take those with me. But some of them are The Voice’s and they do let you keep some of your outfits and boots and stuff like that. So I’m excited to take them home. I get to choose which ones I want to take home so I’m very excited about that. But wearing boots is so much fun, it’s really definitely my style.
Q) Could you talk about working with your respective coach and how you went about choosing your songs week after week? Vanessa, you go first?
Vanessa Ferguson: Yes sure. There are a lot of things that I wanted to do because I am I guess such a versatile artist and haven’t really locked myself into one genre yet. But then I also have I guess the ability to do different things and so Alicia Keys knew that from the beginning. She said oh you play piano? I want you to play piano at some point. She was like oh you do, you know, old school R&B? I want you to do that. Or you do pop or you do, I want you to do those things. And then when she found out that I rapped she was like oh I definitely want you to rap. So we would basically just come together, just be her and myself a lot of times and we would be brainstorming of different things. She will throw ideas out there, I will throw ideas out there, and we just kind of put our heads together and see, you know, what do we want to accomplish for this particular week. And we would both just agree, you know, on our particular songs however long that took which usually didn’t take a long time at all. So I mean, it was great working with her because she I do believe comes from the same place that I do in terms of a lot of things. We’re literally both from New York so we have a lot of the same influences, a lot of the same music, you know, hip hop and things like that we have in common. We had a lot of the same like idols if you will. So she totally understands me in more ways than one, she actually called us kindred spirits. And because of that she’s like hey I want you to like be you and show what you want to show and do what you want to do because you know, she thought it was fly that I did so many different things. And I was definitely hoping to continue but, you know, who knows, who knows what might happen.
Brennley Brown: Every week it was a little bit different. I think I had a lot of ideas. You know, I grew up with classic country music so every week’s performance I kind of wanted to just bring that feel to it with any song. But, you know, a lot of times me and Gwen would email back and forth about songs and, you know, I had a lot of ideas, she had a lot of ideas. She was talking with Blake about, you know, country songs and it was really fun to kind of pick and choose. Also there is the music department who is very helpful in kind of helping you navigate each week’s song. But it was really fun to explore. You know, I did songs on the show that I probably wouldn’t normally do if I was doing my own set, you know, at a concert at home or, you know, a gig or whatnot. But it really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I had a lot of fun with it, you know, and I also got to do songs that I absolutely loved, you know, “River”, “Long, Long Time”, those two were my absolute favorite. And, you know, it was so much fun to just kind of put myself into each week’s song. But Gwen was so nice and so open to my ideas and I was open to hers and it was a really great experience getting to choose songs. But I will tell you me and Gwen took the longest time to make a final decision. Like I remember when I sang “Anyway” by Martina McBride last week, literally 30 minutes before the rehearsal like we had to make a decision and we were like okay, we’re just going to go with this one because it feels right and we just went with that song. And it was a crazy, fast paced experience for me because each week was different, you know, and I didn’t know exactly what I was going to sing each week. But it was just so much fun getting to explore songs and, you know, get to put my little twist on them.
TSoul: My experience with Blake was – I’d have to say it was perfect, exactly what I – well more than I could have envisioned, you know, coming into this. I knew coming into this I wanted to be on Team Blake. I knew way back at the blind auditions that if he turned around that’s who I was going to pick. And it was because I knew that, I mean, he is a country artist, I know he has a good idea of soul music too. I know he actually loves it. I’ve seen him as he sang it on the show. So I was interested in seeing, you know, what he thought I should be doing and then just trusting him along the way. He – a lot of the decisions of my choices were – with soul songs and songs you pick, like he picked “In the Midnight Hour” because he said it was perfect for me and Josh to do and it was. And he picked “Knock on Wood” which was one of my favorite performances. These are songs that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to do or sing but once they were given to me it was like wow, this is perfect. And so and then the decisions I had like he listened to and he worked with. I knew I wanted to sing songs like “Always On My Mind” and “At This Moment” which were, you know, top country records that I was able to perform and get his opinion on, one of the top country artists. Even when Shania Twain was there I was singing “Always On My Mind.” So I knew that perspective is the perfect perspective that I needed at that moment to, you know, deliver the performance. And all along the way he has allowed me to be 100% me. He even started saying just put TSoul in the song and that was the description that I should apply. And I knew exactly what he meant when he said that. I have gained, I think the best advisor that I could have gained out of this is him because he’s excited about my voice and that allows him to, you know, let me do whatever I really want to do. When I did “Lay Me Down” that was something that he said he wouldn’t have expected or thought for me to thought to do but that was me being 100% me, picking a song and making my version of it. So he just did a really good job of opening up to me in a way that allowed me to just be myself and be myself not only in front of him but in front of the world now. And it got me all the way, you know, to the semi finale.
Q) Brennley, I’m assuming Gwen was pretty devastated to lose both of her artists last night before the finals. Did she say anything to you after the show?
Brennley Brown: I think it was both – for both of us it was a hard moment I think for Gwen to lose both of her team members in one night. But we talked after and, you know, she just said, you know, this is a TV show, you know. And this is just the beginning for both of you and you guys are so talented and, you know, you have your original music that you’re working on and want to release. And because we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. But she is just, man she is so genuine, Gwen is so genuine and so real and honest and just beautiful inside and out. And her heart is just – man, her heart, she just has such a beautiful heart. But she just really encouraged us after the show to just continue working hard and, you know, this is definitely not the end. Adam and Alicia came up to us both and talked to us also and just said this is literally just the beginning and you know what, it’s just a TV show and you guys are going to do amazing, great, beautiful things. So that was super encouraging to hear from her and she’s so wise and I’ve loved getting to just get advice from her throughout this whole process. You know, things that she has told me I will just take with me the rest of my music career, you know, and will be forever grateful to her for her belief in me and just her support throughout this whole process.
Q) I noticed Brennley that Hunter and yourself were eliminated after trying something new. Like you performed a spunky up tempo song and Hunter really honored the original rendition of the U2 song without changing it up as much as he usually would. I guess while one might say it was the perfect time to show a new side of yourself, like after last night’s results do you agree with that I guess? Do you think the timing was right to change things up when you knew kind of the ballads were working for you, you know what I mean?
Brennley Brown: Honestly, I definitely wanted to do an up tempo, you know, on the show before I left. So I’m really happy that I did because I think people didn’t really get to see that fun, spunky side, you know? But do I have any regret, no. Because, you know, and I think I said this last night when I was on stage. Every week I just tried to sing from my heart and even in “Suds in the Bucket” I did that too, you know. And I think leaving with that, it makes me feel so satisfied because that’s all I wanted to do was just sing from my heart and, you know, really just be myself up on that stage. And that’s what I was able to do every week. I think trying something new, I was a little bit nervous about it because I didn’t know, you know, how people were going to react to it. But I’m really glad that I did because, you know, I got to show a different side to myself that maybe people wouldn’t have been able to see, you know? And I don’t have any regret. I think at the last minute, you know, the music department here, they really encouraged me to go for “Suds in the Bucket” and just show a new side to myself and Gwen was like you know what, let’s just do it, let’s just try it. And I’m so glad that I did because, you know, as an artist I think you have to push yourself and do something maybe that you wouldn’t normally do, you know? And I’m very glad that I did and, you know, I know everything happens for a reason. I do, I believe that with my whole heart. I trust God and I know that, you know, this is definitely just the beginning for me. I’m 15 years old, you know, and I’m just going to – just keep working hard, release my original music, and just yes, just continue to work hard.