Interviews

Rayvon Owen – American Idol

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Q) Do you know what you’re going to be singing at the finale or who you’re going to be singing with?

A) I do, but it’s not confirmed and not public yet, so I can’t state that right now.

Q) How about then after the show is over, is there anybody that you’d love to get to sing with if you ever got the chance?

A) I would love to perform with Sam Smith or John Legend or Celine Dion.  Someone like that would just be amazing to perform with.

Q) And what do you think your album is going to look like?

A) My record is going to be a pop record with soul influence.  It’s going to have kind of the raw emotion of like John Legend or Sam Smith but with a pop edge of Katy Perry or Betty Who.

Q) You didn’t really get that emotional after your elimination, and you always seem to maintain a big smile on your face.  Is it safe to say you kind of saw this coming?  How difficult was it to be in the bottom so many times?  I mean, did you ever have a moment when you were kind of down?

A) At first it was shocking, and yes, it’s definitely nerve-racking every time, but the thing is I try to stay positive and just remember I get another chance to sing again and do what I love to do in front of millions of people and to take advantage of this platform.  So I kind of tried to look on the bright side of things.  Being in the bottom each week, I was like okay, this could be my last day, and I made it again.  I said okay, this could be my last day, and I made it again.  You know?  So, after going through that so many times, I was kind of, for lack of a better word, comfortable in that position and just excited to share yet another week in this competition and do what I love to do.  I made it very far, and I feel very accomplished.

Q) I’ve been wondering why viewers kept voting you into the bottom but then saving you with the Idol fan save week after week.  When I talked to Quentin, he said maybe it’s because they like lighting a fire under you, and he was laughing about it.  How do you feel about that?  Do you think you really may be worked harder because of that position than maybe would have if you are always safe every week?  What do you think about that?

A) Absolutely.  I mean, I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, yes, absolutely.  It definitely was a blessing in disguise because I feel like it gave me this extra push, and it made me want to persevere.  I feel like I gave my best performances under those circumstances, honestly.  It pulled a fight out of me that I didn’t know I had.  I have definitely grown from the experience, and it’s made me a better artist.

Q) For going forward in your career, are you seeing yourself doing this full time as your career, singing?  Are there plans to come back to the Richmond area, or are you planning on staying in California?

A) Absolutely.  I moved to California just shortly before the show, so definitely this is kind of a second home for me, but I love Richmond.  That’s where my family is, my childhood home is, and so it’s definitely going to be a place that I return to and perform at and do concerts and get involved in organizations and things that that I was involved there.  But yes, overall, though singing is definitely, it’s what I’m built to do, it’s what I will do for the rest of my life.  That’s another reason why I’m so grateful for this show.  It’s going to give me that opportunity.  Even though I didn’t win, I made it far enough that I will be able to do this for the rest of my life and take advantage of this platform and also do some acting and stuff.  I have other passions as well.

Q) I was wondering what songs were you planning on singing next week.  Did you have those picked yet?

A) I didn’t actually.  The coronation song is the song that I would’ve heard last night, so the other three are going to be working on those.  Then we were going to hear what the other picks were.  They would’ve been songs that would’ve been assigned to us.  So honestly I had no idea.

Q) Oh, you weren’t going to get to pick your own song at all?

A) Well, possibly.  There was kind of one category that they were tossing back and forth.  We may have repeated a performance, so I’m not sure exactly what that would’ve been because it wasn’t confirmed that that was going to be one of the themes.  So yes, honestly, as of last night, I would’ve known what I was going to be performing for the finale.  Obviously we know the coronation song is one song that they are going to perform, and there’s going to be some other picks as well.

Q) I was wondering if that had anything to do at least partly with how they changed the format.  They allowed all of you to sing in no particular order, and the elimination came at the end of the show.  Did that make for maybe a more relaxed atmosphere?

A) That did.  I think that made a huge difference because we were all, you know, I was talking to the other three of them, and I said, “Ya’ll, let’s just treat this as a show,” you know?  This is a show.  We get to get out there.  Everyone gets to sing everything they prepared, so let’s just get out there and have a good time, have fun, enjoy this, because whoever’s going home, it doesn’t matter.  That will come at the end.  There’s no chairs.  There’s no voting.  None of the bottom two or anything happens until the very end.  So, I think that helped to loosen us all up and to just get out there and have a good time.

Q) They should do it like that every week.

A) I know.  They should.  They should.  It’s stressful.  It’s stressful being under the chairs and calling and all that stuff and the Twitter save singing for the save.  Some of it is very stressful, but I think I’ve gone through the worst of it on the show, so if I can do what I’ve done on this show, I can do anything.

Q) How did you feel doing the Jason Derulo song so soon after he did it on the show?  Was that a little bit of pressure?  That was an interesting pick for you.

A) I guess was inspired by Jason coming on the show.  Scott brought him in as a mentor, and I guess he saw some influence of Jason in me, which is really awesome.  At first, I was like how can I follow that up?  But then I was like you know what, I’m just going to get out there and have a good time and put my own spin on it and just do it the best that I can.  I think Jason, I don’t know if he was watching last night, but I think he would’ve been proud.  Surprisingly, no one has compared or even said anything, to my knowledge, about it because I think I did it in my own way, and I had a good time with it.  It was a fun performance for me.

Q) That was very special at your homecoming with Elliott Yamin coming.  Did you get any personal time with him?

A) I did.  I did get a little bit when he was there and even some last night because he came and spoke with us upstairs.  It was really special.  It reminded him of his homecoming, he said one of the best days of his life and reminded him of his mom, who, as we know, has passed.  I think her birthday was that day or around that day.  It was a special moment for him to see Richmond come back out and support me, and he said his mom would’ve been right there next to my mom cheering me on as she cheered him on several years ago.  So, it was a really cool moment because I myself watched and voted for him and supported him throughout this journey.  And what an amazing talented guy.  I was just so shocked to see him there.  It was such a special day, special moment for me.

Q) Obviously, it’s Mother’s Day this weekend, and you have a very unique relationship with her, and you’ve used her to connect with some of your performances.  So, how has that impacted your journey?

A) Oh my gosh, it’s been amazing.  I’ve always wanted to make my mom proud.  I’ve always wanted to thank her for all of her hard work and sacrifice that she has made for me.  Honestly, I would not be here, you would not know who I am, if it wasn’t for her pushing me and making sacrifices, sending me off to those trips and tours and rehearsals and lessons and piano lessons and everything.  She sacrificed what she had in which he didn’t have for me and my sister to give us equal opportunity even when we were in a situation that probably wouldn’t necessarily have that opportunity to do that. She made that for us, which is amazing, so I feel like I wanted to thank her in the best way that I could, and what better way than to dedicate a song to her and connect with her in front of America and just to show her that I’m so grateful for everything she’s done?  She was extremely proud, and she called me her winner after the show last night.

Q) Now, you’ve shared a little bit about your upbringing, but how has your faith also played a role in your journey so far?

A) Oh my gosh, I could not have done this without God.  I pray every single day, day in and day out, and not pray to win.  I’ve never prayed to win the competition, but I’ve just prayed that God’s will will be done, that I can do my best, and that His light will shine through me.  I think what He has in store for me is amazing, and I hope that I can inspire people as well. We pray as contestants too.  A lot of people don’t know, it’s the ritual we have.  Before each show, we get in a circle, and we pray because I personally believe that our gift of music comes from God.  Music is such a powerful tool that is beyond us.  It’s beyond me, and it’s such an amazing way to connect and inspire people.  So, my faith has definitely played the most important role in this whole process and in my music in general.

Q) Well, I heard in one of your tweets you said made in Richmond, assembled in Nashville, and available in LA.  With that being said, how do you perceive yourself as an artist?

A) I see myself—wow, even now, just thinking about today, different than the guy that first walked into the door for the judges back then.  I feel like I represent a lot of things, you know, positivity.  I represent struggle.  I represent love.  I represent heartbreak, relationships.  I love to sing about love.  I think it’s the most universal thing.  I think it’s a language that everyone can relate to and understand, and not only love between a couple or two people, but love and relationships.  I displayed the love for my mom, you know, the love for my fan. So, I think that’s something that is at the core of who I am, and stylistically, I think musically I’m a pop-soul artist.  I have that edge, and I have that raw emotion, and that’s what I want to display to people.  I’m a storyteller.  I want people to connect, make people laugh, make people cry, make people dance, and go through all the emotions that all can draw back to love.

Q) Well, with that being said, of all the performances you did on the show, what was your best song that you thought you did a great job for yourself, not for anybody else, just for you?  What was your performance that you felt that way?

A) For me, I think that would have to be either Believe, which is the song I dedicated to my mom. Or Since You’ve Been Gone was also one of my favorite performances.  I’ve had quite a few.  Even I’m Not the Only One was one of my favorites too to perform.  I don’t know, one of those three.  I’m sorry, you asked for one, and I gave you three.

Q) And interestingly, the question that I had was since it’s a topic of relationships, and you said you loved to sing about love, I was curious if you had anyone in mind when you made the delivery of that song so convincing.

A) I did actually.  I did actually.  It’s nothing serious right now.  I’m not in a relationship or anything, but yes, I did have someone in mind.

Q) So, someone romantically?  Because I know the belief was your mom, so someone romantically was in mind?

A) Yes, absolutely.

Q) I know you’re also a very reflective songwriter.  Can you take us through your songwriting process?  Like, what does it take to write a song, and what’s going through your mind when you’re doing it?

A) Yes, it differs sometimes.  Sometimes it comes in a melody and a groove, and I just kind of get this groove, and then I just start spurring out random words and feelings.  And then sometimes it’s a little more intimate and specific.  I may approach it like okay, I had a sucky breakup, and this is one specific emotion that is new that I’m feeling.  So, how can I portray this in a song?  How can I use my experiences to portray this in a song?  So, that may come more from a lyric or a theme, idea that I kind of write from. And then sometimes, honestly, there are some songs that I have just woken up out of my sleep and just had it.  It was just there, which is the weirdest thing.  That’s happened a few times.  I love it when it happens, but I just wake up, and I grab my phone.  I open up my voice memos, and I start singing a little ditty or whatever it is, and it ends up turning into a song.  There’s been quite a bit that’s happened like that.  But I love collaborating and writing with others.  I will come in with, like I said, kind of a specific idea, and we’ll come up with something that hopefully turns into a great song.

Q) In terms of your career in music, and you said you did sing that song for somebody, so obviously you have a dating life.  How are you going to prioritize?

A) It’s tough.  Like I said, I’m not in an official relationship.  It is hard.  Before the show, I was in a relationship, and it’s tough.  There are other contestants I see who are in relationships, and it’s hard to balance.  I mean, it’s hard for me to even take care of myself, let alone really, truly dedicate myself to someone else.  But since I am a lover, since I am someone who connects with people, obviously that’s on my radar.  But it’s a tough thing to balance because of the busy schedule, the inconsistency and how we travel. I always make a joke, like don’t date a musician.  Everybody wants to, but it’s a tough thing.  You have to be ready for that kind of lifestyle, and especially now that I’m on this even bigger platform and things are really picking up for me.  So, it’s tough, but of course, you’ve got to have a source of inspiration, right?

Q) I was curious, you said that you were interested in acting.  What kind of shows do you see yourself acting in?

A) Oh my gosh, of course, if I could incorporate a show or a movie that had music that I could sing and act, for example, like Empire, for instance, that’s on FOX.  What a cool show.  I love that show.  I mean, I would love to appear on that show.  That would be so cool or have a similar moment like Jennifer Hudson on Dreamgirls, you know?  If there was a movie that I could do similar to that, that would be really cool.  I have a theater background.  I actually went to high school, performing arts high school, for musical theater, so I’ve done quite a bit of acting there and in college. So, that’s something I would love to get back into, especially now that I’ve gotten so comfortable in front of the cameras and learned this kind of TV world of things.  Even though it’s reality TV, there’s so many skills that I’ve built that I feel like I could translate into a role, into a character.  And that’s much what we do like a singer sometimes when we take on a song and we kind of put our own emotion, our own story to it and kind of embody this character, whether it be from a personal emotion or from somebody else’s experiences and kind of do that.  So, that’s something I love to do.  It’s really fun.

Q) During your time on Idol, do you have one favorite moment?  Not necessarily a performance, just in general?

A) Gosh, there are so many amazing moments.  I think it was the week that I did the Sam Smith I’m Not the Only One, the judges after that performance said some really specific things about me being current.  They could see me being on the radio.  They could see the emotion.  They could see the gravy of what they’ve been looking for.  That really kind of affirmed me.  Harry, that was the first time they all gave me some credit because I know they’ve been so tough on me all season. And another moment was last night.  After the show, I had some one-on-one time with Harry, just he and I sitting in a room and talking.  He said some really encouraging words and gave me some great advice and tips as to how to keep this train running.  He even said he saw some of himself in me, which was a huge honor, so definitely a couple of my very special moments out of this experience.

Q) It seems like a running theme this season was the contestants wanting to stay true to themselves despite having all the voices from professionals in their ears.  Did you personally find that difficult at any stage in the process?  I guess, say, in someone’s case like Clark, who was shown recently disagreeing with Scott over his music choices, do you think he’s doing what’s best for his career or maybe should be a little more open to what the pros say?

A) I think it’s all about balance, honestly.  I think it’s important to be teachable and shapeable because that’s how you grow.  If you fail, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The only way you truly will fail is if you give up, and so as long as you keep doing and trying new things, I think that’s going to make you the best artist that you can be.  But at the same time, you have to stay true to who you are.  I don’t know if you guys remember, but like even I kind of experienced something similar because way back when, the judges said who are you?  Who is Rayvon?  You’re a great singer, but who are you?  Try this, or we don’t like you using your falsetto, whatever.  There’s so many comments that were thrown at me when I was just trying to do my best at what I thought was who I was. Kelly Clarkson, during our mentor session, said I love who you are.  If this is what you’re presenting, then this is great.  This seems to be who you are.  So, I think I’ve done a really good job, not to pat myself on the back, but I feel like I’ve learned so much from balancing, from staying true to who I am and accenting my strengths, but at the same time taking the advice of the judges and of what people say.  You kind of have to—there’s a saying that actually Melinda Doolittle from Season 6 taught me who is actually a friend of mine.  You have to chew the hay and spit out the sticks, so you have to take the point of what people are saying and then just throw it out the other stuff or the negativity or whatever they say for TV purposes. So, I think in Clark’s case, I was proud of him for standing up for himself, but I do think he is somebody who wants to learn and get better at what he does, and he is very teachable.  I think he’ll do really well.  I think that’s what it takes to be a great artist and a great contestant on the show.

Q) Usually when I ask contestants who they’re rooting for to win, they don’t say, because they think everyone is amazing obviously, but do you maybe have a gut feeling about who might take it?

A) I have to say the same thing because I honestly do not know.  And maybe I’m a little biased because they’re all my friends, you know?  I mean, each of them is deserving of the title, and each of them regardless of what happens is going to do very well because of who they are as a person.  People don’t get to see them behind the scenes like I do.  I’m spending intimate time with these people backstage.  We’re eating together, living together, rehearsing together, so I know for a fact that each of them are very deserving of winning this. Beyond their talents, I mean, they are so talented as artists, but even more so as people.  They are incredible humans.  So, I don’t know.  It’s going to be tough.  It’s going to be tough for America to choose who the next American Idol is because, I mean, I honestly have no idea.  It could literally go to any one of them.

Q) you’ve managed to pull off a really cool look with the hat and the button-up shirt.  Just curious if that’s your on-the-street style, if that’s how you typically dress, or if that was a kind of business-savvy decision that this would be a good stage look for you.

A) Well, I tried a lot of different things in college, and I think my style has definitely developed over the course of the past couple years.  I mean, that’s who I am.  You know, what you see is what you get.  I mean, obviously sometimes it’s a little amplified for the stage, especially when you’re dealing with an amazing wardrobe team that they have on American Idol.  But yes, it’s my look. I love hats.  Actually, that’s another thing that I look forward to doing after the show is designing some hats and making my own little hat line, which would be so cool to sell.  So, that’s something I’m going to be working on as well.  That’s another important aspect of who you are as an artist.  I feel like your style gives you an image and gives you a brand and helps you express your music even better.

Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter?

A) I just want to just put it out there and thank everybody who has supported me so far on this journey.  This is just the beginning.  I’m so excited to get back in the studio and make a record after I perform at the finale and after the tour, which is going to be an amazing time.  I just want to just say thank you to the fans from the bottom of my heart.  This experience has made me better, and because of you guys, I am able to do this for the rest of my life and make my dreams come true.  So, thank you, and this is not the last of Rayvon Owen.

 

*CONFERENCE CALL*

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