Nick Hagelin – The Voice
Q) Now that you’ve gotten all of this exposure from The Voice, I’m wondering what’s your game plan musically going forward?
Nick Hagelin: Well I’ve been a singer/songwriter sine I was 12 years old. I started writing and recording music. So just really excited about getting my new original music out there and continuing to promote it with touring and music videos. And that was one of the hardest parts about this process was having to sort of stop that flow of new music. So now I’ve got all this pent up creative energy and I’m just ready to get in the studio and get out on the road.
Q) You’re a guy who’s already released a great deal of music. How do you think the new music will compare to what you’ve already released?
Nick Hagelin: It’ll just be better and better and better. Man, my voice has grown so much, so much wonderful experience. It’s an emotional experience and really tapped into a new, authentic place in my relationship with myself and my music. And I’m excited about expressing that with some new EPs and hopefully an album soon.
Q) On your time on The Voice, you got a chance to experiment with different song types and styles and everything else. Will that affect your current writing on your new project? And what is next? Like what do you do now?
Nick Hagelin: Yes. My lane I would say is soulful pop music. I’m a big R&B fan. My original music will probably have a little bit more of that R&B flavor than what I had gotten a chance to do on the show. But for the most part, what I loved about the song choices and everything I did on the show really stayed true to my singer/songwriter roots. Everything was really rooted in pop music, and that’s where my original music will continue to live is in that pop zone. And definitely trying to bring a little soul to the new project. So I’m really excited about it.
Q) When you went up against Paxton last night for the instant save, kind of what did you think your chances were of staying or going?
Nick Hagelin: I was so just calm and just had released probably weeks ago any attachment to exactly how far I would make it in this competition. I felt like I was in the company of these amazing singers all around me and the fact that I even made it that far was just so exciting for me. So last week before I sang Ed Sheeran I had this real sort of peace and calmness come over me and I was just praying to find that same place last night. And it was actually Paxton’s performance, which was so amazing and so moving that put me in that peaceful state. Just watching him, I was completely absorbed by him and he’s such a close friend of mine now. And I was really just thrilled to be there, thrilled to have another opportunity to sing. And as far as like my chances, I don’t know. I wasn’t too attached to it because, you know, historically America rarely saves the same person two weeks in a row. But I also knew that I’ve acquired this wonderful support and fan base. So I was just kind of excited to hear what Carson would say. I’m such a huge fan and friend of Paxton. I was squeezing him tight and just really happy for whatever name was called. And then they said Paxton, I was just so happy for him. He so deserves to be in that top eight. We’ve all sort of won already in our own ways. I didn’t really give too much thought going into it about who was going to come out and still remaining in the competition.
Q) While it might have been a little unsettling to work on two different teams this season, you also got something many artists didn’t get — you know, the chance to work with and receive feedback from both Pharrell and Christina. How did they differ as coaches for you? And do you think one was maybe a little bit of a better fit based on your style, way of learning, strengths, weaknesses, stuff like that?
Nick Hagelin: Yes. It’s interesting because they really did have very different coaching styles and that became apparent to me as soon as I started working with Christina. Pharrell is very — at least with me — very big picture. He’s full of like really poignant phrases and metaphors and ways to sort of connect your artistry to yourself, your spirit, and make sure that who you are as a person is always being expressed through your music. So early in the competition, that was good for me to sort of work through some of the jitters of being in a competition. And he helped to connect to a more authentic singing voice and opening up more and not being afraid to be loud and sort of overcoming three years of habits I had singing in the corners of restaurants not trying to bother people. He really helped me sort of open up. But then coming back to Christina, Christina’s approach is like very pragmatic. As such an incredible vocalist, Christina has the ability to give you melodies, give you these ad libs, tell you what to sing, when not to sing. And so immediately I came back and, you know, I’ll be the first person to say that I was probably one of the least strong singers on her team. So to come back and immediately realize like wow, she’s going to have this very practical vocal advice for me was really good for me. So I think that as a great fit. And it’s a big part of why I was able to continue in the competition is because of how much growth I was able to achieve every week working with her because she would give me these ideas and I was able to implement them and it was really a wonderful experience working with both of them. And I think slightly, the other cool thing though is that Pharrell is so communicative with all of the contestants, especially if you move further along in the competition. So he continued to bless me with his little Pharrellisms and nuggets of wisdom and pretty much had a nice, you know, thing or summary to deliver to me in a private moment backstage or on the lot. Pretty much after every performance I would run into him at some point, you know, during the week and he would still, you know, impart upon me his wisdom. So I sort of had really the best of both worlds moving through the competition.
Q) And naturally with a show like The Voice, you know, each artist is sort of like molded into a package every week. And their back story really plays a big role in that. And your story is obviously very endearing and compelling, which couldn’t have hurt votes every week. So I guess was that ever a concern for you though on the show, the viewers might vote for your story rather than your talent and vocal ability? Like is that something you sort of accepted or was it a mental hurdle you had to overcome?
Nick Hagelin: I mean, I don’t care why people are voting. I’m just so grateful to be expressing and presenting myself authentically in my music career now. So whatever it is about me that’s appealing to people, that’s a wonderful blessing to make that connection because whatever that connection is can be translated to a lifetime relationship with these new fans and new people who are connected. And if maybe they were compelled to latch onto my story, then I mean it’s up to me to deliver better music and better vocals as my career goes on and make them fans of that, you know, or vice versa. Maybe they like my voice and then my story brings them some sort of inspiration or light. So I was just so grateful for this platform that provides me the opportunity to share both, you know? And people seem to latch onto both things. And I definitely – at one point (Clive), who’s the head of the music department, as we were picking songs and stuff he said a nice comment that perhaps I had outgrown my story on the show. We lean so heavily on that every week. And whether that was true or not, that was a nice approach at least to make sure we were picking songs that were appropriate and powerful for me as a musician and not focusing on what was good for my story or how it tied in anymore. So it was really cool to have such a long run and get to that point.
Q) I was wondering how did you feel when you were called back by Christina? Did your approach to the show change when you were given a second chance?
Nick Hagelin: Absolutely. To be eliminated during knockouts was kind of a blow for me emotionally after having invested so much time during blinds. And it’s a really intense period of time preparing for the battles and the knockouts and so I was pretty bummed when I went home. But then of course had to sort of recover from that and had this amazing experience where I was playing a private party for my wife’s birthday in Atlanta and Usher came to the party. And I ended up singing with Usher for like two hours. And that sort of really helped me sort of reassess everything, like you know what? My life is going to go on. My career is going to go on. Here I am singing like in this very natural environment with someone like Usher. So it was sort of like just when I had sort of like gotten over everything at home, that The Voice production crew came back and they showed me this video from Christina. So it was like this amazing revolution for me, like wow okay so now I get to go back to the show after sort of having just gotten over it. So when I came back, I was doubly focused and I think the big shift for me was I no longer felt like I was competing. And I felt like this is a second chance to just showcase myself as an artist and a singer. And it’s only going to work now as me, you know? It’s not about how I compare to other people, or you spend a lot of energy comparing yourself in the early rounds. So when I came back and I knew Christina put her faith in me, I was definitely just trying harder and wanting to come from a really authentic place.
Q) Is there anything you would change or do you have any regrets about your journey on The Voice?
Nick Hagelin: No. Just this morning I sort of was torn between two instant save songs last night. I was considering singing Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight, which lyrically was like so appropriate for what I was going through. It’s about a man coming to LA and then going back home to Georgia, which I’ll be doing later today. And Change the World is one of my favorite songs of all time. And so I sort of lean in that direction. But no, I have no regrets. But that’s the only thing I’m thinking about today, like man I wonder if I would’ve been more like emotionally invested in the lyrics of that Gladys Knight song last night. But I can always sing that at another show another time.
Q) Did you have any plans for next week, like a song that you could share that maybe you and your coach had already picked out?
Nick Hagelin: Yes. I was planning perhaps singing Die a Happy Man by Thomas Rhett, on sort of putting my own spin on that. So maybe that’ll show up on my YouTube channel in a couple weeks here.
Q) You talked a moment ago about your story versus your talent. Can you talk about your son? How is he doing and how has he inspired you throughout this journey?
Nick Hagelin: Bash is doing great. I don’t know if you guys saw on The Voice or on my page but he ran into Christina Aguilera backstage last night and he popped his little leg up, which he broke a few weeks ago, and he says, “Will you sign my cast?” And she was sweet enough to sign that. And it was this really nice sort of parting moment and the fact that The Voice reposted that picture was really sweet. And that’s something that probably couldn’t have happened next week if I had gotten eliminated along with three other contestants, you know? So that was really cool for him to get that signed because they tagged Bash. He got all these hundreds of followers. And the coolest thing — and I still mean this even after making it so much farther — about this was as far back as blinds when Bash walked out on that stage, the outreach from all these families with various special needs, special needs family members, special needs children were so inspired by him coming out on prime time TV, walking up on that stage after doctors said that he might never walk. He was born and people were talking about wheelchairs for him in college and here he is at five years old taking a bow and Pharrell encouraging everyone to stand up. And when he was born, it was hard to find those kinds of stories of hope and recovery for his condition, arthrogryposis and I remember Googling it and just trying to find any sort of ray of hope. And I would find these like pictures and just latch onto them seeing kids doing well. And so that sort of refocused me from the beginning about, you know, I’ve been pursuing this very sort of selfishly, you know, wanting to promote myself but instantly when I get on this huge platform, it’s his story and his hard work that he’s done and everything that he’s overcome in his five short years that shines so brightly. And after those early rounds, we’d be out in Atlanta as a family and people would come up to Bash and say, “You’re on The Voice.” And they wouldn’t say anything to me because he was like this real star or it all. And so he was just further motivation for me to continue to share his story and everything our family’s been through in hopes of bringing inspiration to families because that’s, you know, was such a prayer of mine when he was born. I was like I just wish there was more hope out there for this condition more success stories to latch onto. And I feel like Bash has really provided that. So he’s really accomplished more than anyone ever thought of him, so I always want to make him proud and show him what daddy can do as well.
Q) What has he been thinking about you being on TV and also him being featured on the show? What has he thought about all this?
Nick Hagelin: He loves it. He’s a big fan of popular, you know, YouTubers and YouTube families and YouTube kids, so a big goal for him is to get a golden subscribe button on a YouTube channel, which means you have however many thousands of followers. So every day, I mean, he’s into it, man. He asks, you know, “How many followers do I have today?” And you know, I’ll pull out my phone, you know, record and doing something. And he’ll say stuff like, “Leave your comments below.” So he’s definitely a well-trained little spokesperson and definitely think he’s going to have a great career, whatever you want to call it, ahead of him. I think his light is super bright. And he’s definitely all about being in the spotlight. He loved this journey. He was a little bummed we didn’t make it to finals because he wanted to wear his tuxedo for the finals, but we told him this is just the beginning and there will lots of other fun opportunities just like The Voice.
Q) We learned a little bit about the record deal you had before and how you walked away from the contract. I guess could you elaborate on that a little bit? Like was that more of an ethical decision on your part because of, you know, things being said like your family image wasn’t marketable? Or was it just because you wanted to spend more time with your son?
Nick Hagelin: To be honest, it’s kind of been spun a little bit more in that way — I don’t think intentionally, but it’s just sort of how it’s been phrased, that I walked away from this deal. It’s not really what happened. It was a great run. We recorded a lot. And then the people that I signed to at the label ended up leaving that label and going to other labels. So my A&R, my executive producer, everyone that sort of brought me in the building ended up leaving the building after I was there for about a year and a half. And the thing with a major label deal is no matter what it looks like on paper, if you don’t have someone in the building, in the offices advocating for you, you know, pushing for promotions buzzes, you know, pushing for sessions to be booked, it’s just not going to happen. So, you know, when my executive producer and my A&R both left the label, it really just wasn’t a home for me anymore. So things kind of fizzled out slowly and we went our separate ways sort of very cordially. The interesting thing though is that I think that because of me trying to embody some sort of pop star image and the music I was trying to make, it just wasn’t authentic. I wasn’t writing and creating from an authentic place. I was trying to be, you know, some super cool guy. I don’t know what it was, but it was just not translating to good music. So that was part of why we never could get behind a single and a song was never released. So it just kind of was a lot of factors. My son was very young at the time too so we were dealing with a lot with me being back and forth from LA. He was about a year old. And so it kind of worked out serendipitously that it sort of did not work out at that label. I was able to come home and it was at that time that I sort of reevaluated my approach to my music career and kept trying things. But everything was just still remaining stagnant and it wasn’t really until The Voice that I sort of came out of the closet, quote unquote, you know, as being married and having a kid. And you know, my blind audition was really the first time I shared that part of my life. And obviously this was the biggest and best opportunity that’s ever happened in my career, so I don’t want to, you know, continue to say, you know, or posture like I walked away on some moral high ground. It wasn’t really all that. But I think it worked out for the best because I learned a ton during that process. Even though the music wasn’t so great, I got to work with some of the best writers and producers alive. I had sessions with like Diane Warren and then Toby with Sean Daniels and the Underdogs. So like I just absorbed so much. It was like going to rock star college or something. It was this amazing period of my life. But the music wasn’t super good because I wasn’t writing a lot and it wasn’t very real for me. So now I can call upon those wonderful relationships that were established at that time and try and do again, man. And this time, the music is going to be awesome.
Q) Last season Jordan Smith was dubbed the front runner week to week and ended up winning the whole thing. The comparison this season has sort of been made to Alisan Porter. I guess while you were in the competition what was the talk backstage? Like did people think she sort of had it in the bag? And I guess are you personally rooting for anyone to win?
Nick Hagelin: You know, the talk backstage among contestants at least is never about who’s going to win — especially this far in the competition, because we’ve just seen so much. I mean, everyone thought that Ryan Quinn was going to be here now, like make it to the finals. And so when you see people like that or Brian Nhira or Abby Celso like when you see people go home, you just start realizing like you just have no idea how this stuff is going to play out. And so I’m a huge fan of Ali’s and I think she’s brought an incredible energy to this competition and really set quite a bar. And then the last few weeks we’ve watched other people like Laith and Adam really get up to the top of those iTunes charts, and Adam’s gotten those multipliers a couple times now. Adam’s one of my just absolute favorites on the show for so many reasons — as a person, as a musician. I think he’s one of the most well-rounded and deserving contestants on the show. And then I feel like Bryan Bautista is in this huge upswing right now. I think his Beyoncé performance was like a huge climax — well, I don’t want to say climax, but just a huge moment for him. So it’s really hard to, you know, predict these things and that’s why we never, you know, we don’t sit around going I think you’re going to win, or she’s going to win. I think the competitive nature of it sort of fizzled out after live playoffs. When you lose half the people that you’re there with, it was really so emotionally jarring that, you know, it’s hard to get attached to any outcomes after that. So ever since the top 12, I think we all are just kind of rooting for each other and seeing what happens.