The Voice – Season 13: Battles Night Two
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) Davon, what challenges did you face when preparing for your battle? How did your coaching team advisor help you with those issues and then why do you think you won at the end of the day?
Davon Fleming: Well, hey, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview us. To answer your question, the main struggle that I had during the battles was that you always just want to be better than your last performance. So I know that I did a jazz song, it was Amy Winehouse. I really wanted to make sure that I just handled my next performance the same way, still show myself and my authenticity in the song but as well still show it in a respectful way where the artist can be appreciated and it just so happened to be by my idol, Whitney Houston. So going in I was just trying to be mindful of her, how she would sing it, what would she do in this situation and still let my opponent, Maharasyi shine and be great at what she did too. That was my goal to just let it be an overall great performance, not so much trying to shine out the other person but make it an overall great performance.
Q) For Mitchell and for Dennis. I’d like for you to talk to me a little bit about that performance, your song choice, what you did to pull the performance off because not only did both of you survive but the song is doing very well on iTunes. So, if we could start with Mitchell please?
Mitchell Lee: I would say that performance was Dennis and I both kind of going back to the home base where we both were used to playing in bands and being up on that stage both having our guitars in hand, it felt like we were in a band together. And so moving into that performance, I think we both felt so comfortable in the situation and also the way that we decided to split the song lyrics up and make it so conversational that it really was just two guys having a great time performing for everyone. And I don’t think it was too tough of a performance, I think for us it was really just about showing us in our own elements and having a great time doing it.
Q) Great, how about you Dennis?
Dennis Drummond: Man, going into that performance, I was really looking forward to going into that just because up until that point you’re like, can I do this? Like, with the blinds you go into it and I’ve never performed to a room like that before. So, it was like going into it and having people having to kind of prove yourself and then you get a little confidence and so going into it, then the song, I’m like, oh great, I love the Counting Crows and then the pairing, me and Mitch we hung heavy. We hung out all of time. So it was great and I enjoy Mitch as a person to begin with so we get up there and it’s such a foreign thing you know, like performing for a television show it’s a different kind of feeling, there’s competition involved. We had that base friendship going up there and were having fun. I couldn’t stop dancing and smiling and just whenever you start feeling weird about something you look over and you’ve got to just look and see your buddy smiling and having fun on stage and you don’t even think about it. That performance, that was a really fun night, really fun experience, and it was like Mitch said, it was so close to what we’re used to doing, it’s more familiar to us. And plus we rehearsed it so much just because we hung out so much. We’d be like, all right, dude, we just hang out and just like do it or go get lunch and we were just always just like, you know, so we got to kind of catch each other’s (ism), so it was like let’s just go do this thing that we’ve been working at man. You know?
Q) Yes, were you pretty cool with the song choice?
Dennis Drummond: Yes, I mean I really liked that song. One of the first songs I ever learned how to play on the guitar was Long December by Counting Crows. So early on I liked his songwriting style and the storylines and he’s got a really unique voice. It’s kind of Eddy Vedder singing where it’s very unique, it’s almost like talking just like a – harmonious or very melodic talking almost. And so I’ve always really liked that because the song is always so cool and the slow … is so cool and it was just such an easy thing and when we got it, I was like right on, another Crow’s related song, the Black Crowes for the audition and I did the County Crows for this one. So I’m like right on, I’m starting to see a trend. I was like what’s going to be next, you know?
Q) Davon, coming off of a performance where all four judges hit the button, you had to be feeling good but what did you learn from your coach and the experience that helped you with last night’s performance?
Davon Fleming: Well, thank you for taking time again, I learned to just definitely pace yourselves. You know, pacing yourself, just a little thing, and your breathing – it all goes hand in hand and because it’s a live performance you’ve got to think about choreography, so when you’re moving around, you don’t want to use too much energy here and there. And even just inward stuff, just believing that you can do it and at times, you know, I was just making sure that I still believed in myself and I was able to do it, you know? It was still shocking to me that I had Grammy nominated and Oscar winners looking at me and saying how great I was. So for the most part, it’s still (good) to my confidence at that time so breathing and making sure I’m being precise with my notes and because it’s a battle, we have to make sure that each person is able to be seen in the best light.
Q) Dennis, before your blind audition you mentioned you were a Maroon 5 fan and you anticipated being on Team Adam if he turned but then you ended up being on Team Blake and I was wondering, do you feel like you’ve learned everything that you needed to get out of being on Team Blake so far?
Dennis Drummond: Being around both the singers, they both have such a different background, you know. The reason I went with Blake was just because with country, it’s not always like the vocal acrobatics, that’s never been my wheelhouse. I’ve always just kind of done what I did. You know, I don’t do the big runs or anything, I’ve never really heard that. So, with Blake being a male and with country music it’s always just kind of been about the ability to tell a story in a song and sell lyrics, really sell the performance. I mean, some of the best country singers aren’t the best singers they’re just performers and they’re very good at telling a story. And that’s kind of why I initially went with Blake and his pointers and everything and how he kind of helped me pull out of my shell a little bit and get a little confidence as the front man. And then with Adam that was a whole new can of worms because with Maroon 5 and with all of that stuff he’s always valued cool music like in his songs. Like with Maroon 5 all of the albums are so cool and you can hear the players and that was cool. I remember hearing Sunday Morning on the radio when I was in like middle school and thinking, that’s cool. So it’s like the way it starts, all of that stuff. So, I’m excited to work with him and dive more into the musical creative side of stuff and he is a singer, he does have that range. So see what he can pull out of me in that way.
Q) Do you think viewers will see a shift with you with your performances like are you going to go more towards the rock side, like you kind of mentioned that last night but do we expect like a shift or a change?
Dennis Drummond: Well, going into this whole thing, I’ve never really liked genres and stuff like people ask me my genre and I’m like, what’s the gig, how much is it paying and when are we leaving? You know, I’ve never really been focused on the genres. I’ve always just kind of had to be a chameleon going into things. So that was kind of fun with this whole experience kind of diving into – well what do I like to sing – what is my thing? You know, because with genres I just felt like it was giving myself a nickname like it was just kind of like one of things like, I don’t know, what’s my genre, you tell me? What is it? And so I’ve always really appreciated rock, I’ve always really liked Eddy Vedder and like Pearl Jam that era. I have a brother who’s ten years older than me and that was his era, you know, like that’s what my older brother would listen to when I was growing up. So that was always kind of like my initial – and like Soul Asylum, I had like a VHS of Runaway Train’s music video and when I was four I would watch it. I always knew how to put in the VHS, so that’s the one thing I knew how to do. Rock has always been a thing for me but I’ve also always loved the blues and soul music. You know, I’m a big Donny Hathaway fan, I can’t sing like him at all but that’s one of my favorite albums ever. I just love music so with the whole genre thing I’ve always just kind of done it my own way, just (like) the song, right? How am I going to do it now? Am I really – I can sing rock, I can sing soul, I can sing blues, I don’t know, there’s a million genres.
Q) Mitchell, during rehearsal for your battle, Rascal Flatts pointed out that you might have a potential problem with overconfidence, that you might actually underestimate Dennis a little bit. I guess what was your reaction to hearing that and were you as confident as you appeared to be to them? If not, I guess why do you think the team advisor got that impression?
Mitchell Lee: When I heard that I was a little surprised but I knew that they were also having to look at what could be a weakness for me. And I think that his answer, in my opinion, was what could be, not that he saw it. Because I hope what he saw was what was really going on is that we were just having too much fun to think about the competition aspect of it. And it never really felt like a battle, you know, we hung out, we ate lunch, drank coffee, talked about the song, jammed to the song in the hotel room. There was never a point for me where it turned into feeling like a battle but more like two buddies jamming to a song on a stage trying to give a great performance.
Q) Hannah, what challenges did you face when preparing for your own battle? How did Adam and Joe Jonas help you with those issues and why do you think you won at the end of the day?
Hannah Mrozak: I think they really gave me a really good outlook on how to kind of go about the song. I guess the original song is just very different, it’s very EDM and I think that’s one thing that Brandon and I were a little concerned about because we did want to change it up a little bit. I think I learned a lot from them just because they pointed out the fact that I just need to kind of believe in myself because I have some self-confidence issues and that big note I remember I was really scared of just because I think it’s such a pivotal moment in the song and they just overall gave me a really good sense of confidence on how to go about that. So I felt really good when going up to the battle.
Q) My question is for Hannah, can you go into this competition as a solo artist and then right away you have to do a duet. Did that pose any specific challenges for you and if so, what did you do to overcome them?
Hannah Mrozak: I actually was really excited to do the battles. I know a lot of people tend to get a little scared when it comes to that. I didn’t really have that many fears I would say when going up to it, I personally love singing with other people and especially because I got to sing with Brandon and I think he is just so incredible and it was that much more amazing in my opinion to do the duet with him because he’s such a skilled singer so it made it actually really that much easier for me and we just worked really well together. So, I actually had an amazing time. Granted it is a lot of pressure because one of us has to go and one of us has to stay but throughout my whole time with preparing for that and singing with him, honestly I had so much fun and he’s just so incredible to work with.
Q) Davon, I’m just curious how have you celebrated so far, what did you do after the blind auditions and what did you do after the battle round?
Davon Fleming: The craziest thing is I haven’t really had time to really celebrate. I didn’t really do anything that I really wanted to do like with friends or anything but mostly what I’ve been doing since the show aired is I’ve been going to a lot of different schools here in my community. I’ve been going to different high schools and stuff where they’re asking me to come, just to speak with the kids about following your dreams especially being in the community where I’m from, a rougher neighborhood, you know. So that’s been really fulfilling. I’m was hoping to go see the Color Purple while I was here in Baltimore, I really want to go see that but for the most part I’ve just been trying to stay influential in my community. I know it’s easy to forget, hey, it’s just the music aspect but I kind of wanted to remain still active in my community with the youth outreach program stuff that I worked with, the music stuff that I work. Of course I’m celebrating, always excited and there is nothing like being able to give back in your area. So, I’ve been just doing that really.
Q) And do you plan on doing anything different preparation wise for your next performance?
Davon Fleming: Preparing – well, I guess the only thing I can really do is I normally pray, stay prayed up, and just stay focused, that’s the main thing with competition and stuff like that, it’s just easy to be concerned about what everybody else is doing and although there’s some amazing talent, you know, in this group, but at the same time we’re family-oriented. It’s not one person that we couldn’t go to and talk to about whatever and just have a moment. Everybody is just very family oriented but my main thing even still moving forward is just always stay focused on and everybody’s here for their special reason, but you’re unique in your own way. So, I’m definitely going to stay focused and be mindful to always stay true to who I am and the music at the same time. Yes, that’s all I plan on continuing to do just try to stay consistent, what I’ve been doing is working so far.
Q) I have a question for Dylan and Chloe. Only brief moments of your battles were shown on last night’s episode, could you talk about what viewers didn’t see? I mean, tell me what it was like rehearsing with your respective coaches and also the feedback you received from the coaches after performing? If we could start with Dylan?
Dylan Gerard: So I guess leading up to the battle we practiced with Adam and Joe and Dave and I kind of struggled in the beginning with our song just because we have different voices and he’s got like a raspier kind of softer voice than I have and so we struggled with balancing the song and making sure that we both were able to shine on it in a sense and some of the stuff that was brought up to me was that I was kind of over singing in parts and I just needed to kind of bring it back and try to finesse it a little bit and it’s not a flashy song at all so we just kind of stuck to the melody and sang the song and didn’t run around on it, of course, neither Dave nor myself really are vocal runners but, yes, we just did that and it took a pretty good amount of work before we really felt like we had the song in a good place. But, it was really cool getting to work with them and I had a really great time performing that song with Dave. Dave is a good friend of mine, love Dave. He’s a great guy and so I really enjoyed being able to sing with him and like Mitchell and Dennis are talking about, you know, you just have that time to just sit there and sing with a really good friend and joke around and have fun and so it was really just a good time with a bittersweet result but, yes, just real grateful to still be on the team and to get a chance to perform again.
Q) Awesome and how about you Chloe?
Chloe Kohanski: Well I think definitely an awesome experience working with Miley, that was the first time that I actually got to have her kind of coach me and so that was amazing. And my battle partner was Ilianna who quickly became like one of my best friends on the show. So, yes, definitely a bittersweet experience because you get to sing with someone that, you know, you enjoy being around and you enjoy hanging out with and it’s fun that you get to sing together but also it’s pretty tough emotionally because you realize that one of your journeys is going to end on the show and it’s a tough place to be in so I know for a fact that we were both extremely emotional before we went out there. It was pretty tough to really sing the song. The song was I Am Women by Helen Reddy and it’s kind of a like a late 60’s, early 70’s feminist anthem and it’s pretty joyous and it’s supposed to have a very confident feeling but the entire time we were signing it we were very sad because we knew that one of us was going home. So, I don’t know if we gave like the best performance but I think it was very emotional, it was very genuine and so I kind of wish people would have been able to see that but it’s, you know, since it was montage, that’s really what you missed was just us kind of singing but also like when you’re trying to talk and you have something caught in your throat because you’re crying about something like that’s pretty much where we were at the entire time. So, yes, it definitely affected the performance but Ilianna was an amazing vocalist, just an amazing girl and it was so much fun but I don’t think it was the strongest song for me but, yes, I mean, it was just an emotional really real experience, you know, we all got super close, everybody got close, and then you’re working with someone on a daily basis like you’re going to kind of become friends and a lot of people became like best friends and I’m sure we’ll be lifelong friends because of that. So it’s just emotional, it’s kind of a weird round to get through but we got through.
Q) Dennis, do you think that being stolen I guess serves as an advantage or disadvantage in this stage of the competition because you know, one might see being stolen as an opportunity to work with and receive advice from two different coaches who have a lot to offer but then someone else might argue that you’ll have to work harder for Adam to keep you on his team since he sort of had less time to really like get to know you and become invested in you, you know what I mean? What are your thoughts on that?
Dennis Drummond: I’ve just kind of been opening the doors as they come and I kind of went into this not with stars in my eyes to begin with. I was just playing guitar you know, just (hired) by people so I’ve just been being me and taking things as they come. I feel like Adam saw potential in me, I had reasons for both, it was a really difficult decision taking Blake and now being on Team Adam, however this whole competition has been a great experience because of being able to work with those people and being able to get their input on what it is that I’m doing and have that little boot of confidence where you’re like, maybe I can do this. I mean you tell yourself that you can – you realize it every now and then but it’s really tough to think that because you’re invested in everything as you do it. It’s so involved as you do it, it’s like we’re just performing. Like we’re just working and trying to get this performance down. I wasn’t thinking I’m going to knock Mitch out. I just wanted to go for fun and make a great song with my buddy. So the competition factor really hasn’t been on my mind; it’s just been a great experience meeting people and having the input from people who are so established in their careers to be like, hey dude, we like what you do. That’s been really nice, having that from both. I don’t see it as a disadvantage at all. I think it was cool that he turned early in the song and then he saved pretty quickly, he didn’t make me have to (say) so I was so nervous. So luckily he hit the button quickly. I didn’t know what to say in that moment, it’s like, I’m just used to this being like oh, thanks, that’s about it. So it was crazy how quickly he acted on it, so I’m excited to see where things go with this.
Q) Dennis, you said you worked with Adam Wakefield who was also on The Voice, did he give you any pointers or ins and outs of being on The Voice competing?
Dennis Drummond: He just told me don’t suck. That was his first advice. I was like, all right, cool man, thanks. And we were playing video games so it was like – you know, he’s a buddy. His advice is very just like friend – he’s a good buddy of mine so it was more like dude, go out and be you and sing a song and his big thing he said was just be Dennis because nobody can be a better you. So he was just like go out there and do whatever it is that you do just go out there and do it and sing a song, play the song, you know, and he’s been great. I’m actually playing guitar with him this weekend. So seeing how it’s helped him out – he was where I was at in the same situation where he was coming from playing keys and singing harmony with people and then kind of did his own thing when he could do it. And then after he got off the show he called me and was like, hey, the thing now, before he was Adam Wakefield I knew him. So now he’s like Adam Wake – so he comes off and was playing the shows and stuff it’s like I learned a lot just by being around him, just being submerged in just the working side of this – as soon as he got back we loaded up in a van and went across the United States. So I’ve learned a lot and seen a lot from that side.