The Voice – Season 13 – Auditions: Night Two
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) Ashland, in your bio package, you said you’ve been watching The Voice since Season 1. I was wondering if you could tell me why now was the right time for you to audition and you could explain a little bit more about your blind audition song choice.
Ashland Craft: Yes, absolutely. So like I said, I’ve been watching The Voice since Season 1 and I’ve always loved the show but I never really felt that I was exactly ready. So now that I’m 21 and I’m really trying to figure out my career path, I felt it was the right decision to just take a leap of faith and try out. And so clearly that landed me a spot on the show and I’m just excited to finally get to do what I’ve always wanted to do.
Q) And your song choice?
Ashland Craft: The song I chose, You are My Sunshine, was actually in the style of Chris and Morgane Stapleton and I’ve always loved the song since they released it. And I especially loved it because it kind of incorporated everything I wanted to be as an artist. I am clearly a soulful country artist but I also have rock influences and I felt like this was the perfect song to show every aspect of my voice. And I would say that it did exactly that.
Q) Keisha, can you talk about your musical evolution? What draws you to country music?
Keisha Renee: Hey. Well, like I said, I have a gospel background, very social, but when I moved to Houston it was a real southern state. I got exposed to a lot of music from blues, to zydeco, country, and I just fell in love with every aspect of country music. It’s real instrumentation. It’s real lyrics. One of my favorite songs now is Better Man by Big Little Town and it’s what I’m going through. You know what I’m saying? People go through that. They have relationships and they wish people were different. It’s just relatable. It’s not something that I can dream about. It’s something that I lived through and I just want to make music that people can relate to, and I feel like this is the best genre of music to do it with.
Q) Dylan, after your audition, Jennifer Hudson wanted you to change the key and she wanted you to do it kind of right then and there. So what did you think of her being already in coaching mode and did that make you consider going with her instead of Adam, who you ended up going with?
Dylan Gerard: Yes, it absolutely did. Just seeing her excitement, just like from the get go, I told myself if Adam turns, that’s who I’m going with. But when she came up there and I could see her excitement, and I could see this passion, and this almost like this caring and this coach like demeanor, it really made me think for a second, maybe I should give Jennifer a chance. But then we talked about kind of what I want to do with my music, where I want to go, and the kind of work that could be done on my voice. And having Adam there to help coach me through the same kind of stuff that I guess he would do because he’s got a male voice. It just kind of – I just had to go with I guess kind of my gut, what I wanted to do from the beginning. It really took a lot of thinking there. I really hated to turn down Jennifer after just how much she kind of put into that. It was really crazy. It was surreal.
Q) Dylan, we didn’t get to see a bio package on you. So I was hoping you could tell me about Don’t Sigh Daisy, what happened with the band, whether you guys are still working together at all. Because it looked like there might have been a new single released earlier this year.
Dylan Gerard: Yes, so we aren’t necessarily still a band. It’s like two core members, myself and Joshua Wicker. And we got together and we created this new song, Better Man, and had our old drummer come in and just play on the track. But for the most part, we all just kind of grew up. That – I’m the only one kind of in the band that didn’t get married and have kids. So it just kind of — we got older and it got harder to get together and play. And we weren’t necessarily doing it to get big or anything. It was more something we did for fun. And so it just became harder to get together and play. But yes, we always — myself and Josh, we always talk about continuing to make music whether or not we play it live, at least just put it out.
Q) Red, my question was how did you decide on your song choice and did you plan on going with Blake from the very beginning?
Red Marlow: Well, that song, Just a Swing, and I was in kindergarten when that song came out. And I remember we had a concert at our gym at school and I remember being a little kid and one of the high schoolers and came in and sang that song. And his name was Bart. I don’t remember his last name but he just must have been Garth Brooks in my opinion at that point and I remember him singing that song. So through the years, I’ve always just, I don’t know, it’s just a hillbilly song and lord knows, I’m definitely a hillbilly. It just fit. It’s just a fun country song and I got to meet John Anderson and he’s a great guy and just the song in general, I loved it. Anything that’s country I really like to do. I always had Blake in mind for sure. Blake and I had met several times through the years. He didn’t remember me. I’m pretty easy to forget but anyway, it was kind of a toss-up because Miley, she put up a great fight and I’ll be honest with you, I was torn because the whole interview was just — it was very interesting as far as her telling me what she wanted to do and how she would let me be me and do country music and all that. She almost had me. I kind of looked over at my wife. She was standing on the side of the stage when I looked over at her when I was trying to decide. She was like, I could see her over there mouthing Blake at me. I was like, well, that’s the reason I went with Blake. Which like I said, I had planned on going with Blake anyway, but Miley sure was very convincing.
Q) Ashland, I wanted to know what was you’re thinking behind choosing Miley Cyrus’ team over maybe Blake Shelton because he’s an established country singer. He has mostly coached country singers on the voice.
Ashland Craft: Right. So originally, coming into this competition I was so headstrong on picking Blake just for that simple reason that he is such a well-known country music artist. But I also came into this competition with an open mind that if it did come down to it, I would be open to listening to everybody’s little sales pitch or whatever you’d like to call it. And for some reason, it’s just when Miley told me how old she was, because I didn’t realize she was around the same age as me, when she told me how old she was and she told me how she moved, how it felt to be in this industry at such a young age, it really kind of stuck out to me and it honestly made me feel a little bit more comfortable with the whole process. Because coming into this, I was extremely nervous. I have only ever sang in bars and small little restaurants and stuff. So this was something huge for me and for her to give me that sense of comfort that I would get through this with ease as like having her as a coach, it made me feel a whole lot better. So it was a very, very hard decision for me because like I said, I was so headstrong that I was going to choose Blake. I feel like when your gut tells you something you should always go with it and that’s exactly what I did.
Q) Keisha, can you talk about the touring with Nicki Minaj?
Keisha Renee: Sure. Working with Nicki Minaj, it’s been a dream. It’s been really life changing. I think when I started working with her I was around 22, 23 years old. I traveled the world with her. She exposed me to audiences that I never thought that I would be able to sing for. And because she’s a hip hop artist or rapper, she does sing but on tour, I do most of the singing so I was exposed to her fan base and we’re doing arenas. I was able to check some things off the bucket list like doing the O2 Arena in London. That was major for me. Traveling the United States of America. I’ve been to places I never thought I’d see. It’s been amazing and I feel like working for her, such a strong woman in the industry, it taught me a lot of things. I think I’ve had the best job to get me prepared for my own career because I know exactly what it takes. It’s more than just making music, a business sense that you have to have and I think that working for someone that is a female in a male dominated industry, I have gotten the best knowledge ever. I will not be pushed over, but it’s tough. I will say that. It’s very tough and I’ve seen it firsthand but it hasn’t discouraged me. And I feel like going for a genre that is not typically something that I would do with my type of voice, I feel like I’m fearless and I worked for a fearless person who created no limits for herself and here I am trying to do the same thing for myself. So it’s been a dream come true working for her. It’s the best battleground and learning ground I’ve ever been on.
Q) Ashland, I was wondering, do you write original music and if so, how would you describe it and have you released anything yet?
Ashland Craft: So original music is actually something that I’ve honestly been struggling with for a while. I started trying to write when I was around 14 years old, I believe and when you’re that age you don’t really understand a whole lot about life. So at that time, it was more just heartbreak music and stuff like that. But as I’ve grown, I would definitely say my music now is more along the lines of basically like the honky-tonk music that you would hear. I would love to bring back the older music in a new way. So I would like to say lyrically, my songs are very similar to ’90s country, but sound wise it’s more relatable to today’s generation. So it’s a good mixture of both and I like to write up about life experiences. I’ve written a song about my life working as a house band singer and I’ve written about just being a southern girl, just feel good music and I feel like it’s something that everybody can kind of relate to on some different kind of level. So I’m still currently working on trying to get more original music out there.
Q) And you haven’t released anything yet? Are you planning to soon?
Ashland Craft: I have not released anything yet, but yes, I plan on releasing hopefully an EP very soon.
Q) Keisha, I know that you also toured with Adam Lambert and I have a lot of his fans that read my blog. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about touring with him.
Keisha Renee: Sure. That was one of my favorite times of my current career. I love Adam Lambert so much. He’s such a sweet person and he took me to a lot of places that I didn’t even know existed like Bali, and Indonesia. I was this little girl from Inglewood. I didn’t think I would know anything but California and I have been almost everywhere and he contributed to that. So I’m forever grateful for him. He gave me a chance. This industry, it’s very image driven and I’ve been trying to be this solo artist for a long time but I didn’t look the part and he didn’t care about that. He was like, “Listen, I want you to sing background for me. You have a voice and I want to showcase that.” And he also gave me opportunity while we were touring to do little parts in the show where I had a little solo here and there. And I’m always grateful for people to give me opportunity on their platform. I feel like that is so selfless and it’s so humble of him and I still talk to him to this day. He just commented on Instagram yesterday. I made a lifelong friend so I’m really excited for him to share in this journey with me because he too did a show where he took a chance on himself and now he’s traveling the world with Queen. So it’s amazing.
Q) Maharasyi, you seemed dead set on picking Miley in the bio package but then you wound up going with Jennifer. Can you explain that decision?
Maharasyi: Yes, I’m a huge Miley Cyrus fan. I was really for sure I wanted her but just the time and the passion that Jennifer invested in those few minutes just meant so much. I’ve always looked up to big voices, confident, powerful performers and Jennifer kind of put herself out there for me, kind of immediately recognizing my voice and where I was trying to go as a vocalist and a performer. And just her own presence kind of won me over. When she wanted me — when she told me to sing the line again just made me feel that she’s someone that truly would help me out, especially because she’s a soulful singer and I’m a soulful singer. I just felt she really knew how to direct me.
Q) And what led you to the Voice at this point?
Maharasyi: I’ve been singing all my life. I grew up singing at church and I started singing at weddings. I had my career out in Indonesia and I just felt the Voice is kind of the greatest platform you could step onto as far as a singing TV show competition. And it’s been a long journey and I just felt this was the time for me to put myself out there and clearly give my all, and that’s what I did. Yes.
Q) Maharasyi, could you talk a little bit about your time in the Indonesian music industry?
Maharasyi: Man, when did it start? It probably started in 2011. I went out there for a record label who was looking for a female singer who sang in English and Indonesian. So I came out there. I thought it was perfect. It was 21 years old. Long story short, it ended up just not working out for me. We recorded a couple songs and it landed for a couple movies, which led me into acting. So a lot of great things. Did TV shows, TV series, dramas, movies but the singing career out there for me just after living out there for two years, I kind of felt I needed to come back to the States and pursue my career out here.
Q) Red, what would you bring different to the Voice different from others that have gone through — other country artists such as Sundance Head? What can we expect to see that will be different from you as a country artist?
Red Marlow: Well, I think country artists, I mean I know Sundance, a lot of those — everybody is such a great singer and great artists. But as an individual, to me it’s not that I’m even anywhere nearly as good as those guys. I sing how I sing but for me, it’s personality. It’s real. I mean what you see is what you get with me. I really truly live country that lifestyle. Every day I wake up that’s how I live and I think that comes across on stage as well just being my goofy hillbilly self. I think that definitely helps out. That’s definitely the difference I think you’ll see with me is just being me and not trying to be anybody else. And plus, I’ve been doing this for, I don’t know, 15 years as a professional demo singer and just — it’s just home for singing and being on that stage is home. So I feel like that and my personality and loving everybody, it’s just who I am. So hopefully that will come across and that’ll be the difference hopefully to take us all the way to the end.
Q) Were thrown like a song or a twist, how you think you would handle that because you are very distinctive country, which is good. But this show is known for tossing other genres. How would you handle that?
Red Marlow: Well, I think maybe it ain’t Michael Jackson or something. Maybe they’ll toss me something different. I don’t know if I could do his notes but, you know, I could — pretty much anything I do, like you said, it’s distinctive country. Anything I sing is going to be country so if they throw me a song that’s totally out in left field for me, honestly, I feel pretty comfortable because like I said, I’ve sang so many demos for so many writers and you have to be flexible. A lot of times they don’t want you to sound as country as I do, so I might have to try to bend and get what they want, as a professional, trying to make a client happy. So I’m pretty comfortable. If they throw me whatever, I’ll do my best at it and it will definitely have some twang on it when I get finished with it.
Q) Dylan, according to the bio on the Voice website, you’ve been working as a CNA so I was wondering what brought you to the Voice at this point?
Dylan Gerard: I’ve watched the Voice off and on since it aired and I don’t know. I always looked at it and wondered and thought maybe I could do that. I wonder how far I could get with that and I think it’s probably just a pretty good amount of self-doubt mixed with current stuff that I had going on in my life. But actually, someone that kind of helps me book some shows here and there, they just contacted me one day and said, “Hey, man. What’s your address? What’s this and that?” And I said, “What are you doing? What do you need this stuff for?” He said, “I’m signing you up for the Voice,” and then they just pretty much told me where to go and when to be there and so it was really somebody believing in me and supporting me. And they’re the ones that kind of gave me that push to take a chance on the show. And I’m so glad that I did because it really, I don’t know, it just kind of — it helped show me that I could possibly be on this kind of platform, on this stage and kind of put some of that self-doubt aside.
Q) So you’ve continued to perform as a solo artist ever since Don’t Sigh Daisy?
Dylan Gerard: Yes, but just small stuff. I’ve really only played in restaurants and it’s covers. I never really throw in original stuff.
Q) Keisha, you picked Blake as your coach after what seemed like a pretty quick and concise pitch. So were you set on picking Blake going into your blind audition if he turned around for you or was there more to his speech than what was shown? I’m just wondering because the other coaches were shown really fighting hard for you and I know your voice is a mix of country, pop, and soul so that seems to be a mix of all the coaches.
Keisha Renee: Yes, I mean coming into it when I was given the opportunity to be on the show, I kind of already made up in my mind I wanted Blake. But in that moment, every coach said something that stuck out to me and Blake absolutely did say more than what they showed, put the icing on the cake. On top of, he was the first person to turn around so I thought it was confirmation overall because I went in definitely wanting him being that I’m new to country. I don’t know everything about it and I felt like he would be the best one suitable to teach me the ropes. But him pushing the button first on top of everything he said, it just put the icing on the cake and let me know that this was absolutely the right choice.