The Voice – Voice Premiere Night Two
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) Jesse, I was wondering during your video package you mentioned that you had worked with – that Prince had called you and that you had worked for The Voice contestant Judith Hill. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Jesse Larson: Oh sure. Yes I had gotten a phone call and my band that I was playing with called MPLS had gotten a phone call from Prince and his people and they asked us to come out and do a private performance for him so we did. We ended up going out there and we played I think five or six songs. And when we left we got a phone call and they had asked for the guitar player to come back the next day and jam with Prince. And so I did which was, you know, crazy. So I did go back the next day and then I ended up meeting Judith Hill that day and realizing that I was getting called back for an audition to be in Judith’s band that Prince was putting together for his Hit and Run USA Tour in 2015. So about a week and a half later I got a text message saying Jesse are you ready to quit your job and be put on a retainer by Prince. And so I did, I had to go in the next day and put my two week notice in to my career that I had for 15 years managing an auto parts store. And the following Monday I started working at Paisley Park as Judith Hill’s guitar player and backup singer working for Prince.
Q) You said that only lasted about four months so what – how did that end?
Jesse Larson: Well Prince just changed his direction. He’s kind of like that or he was kind of like that where he was always changing directions and ideas of what he wanted to do. He always had a bunch of projects going at the same time. And so around that time was when he started his Piano and a Microphone Tour so he only did like one or two full band shows after our contracts weren’t renewed and then it was just straight to the Piano and a Microphone. And it was kind of like the beginning of the end unfortunately if you know what I mean.
Q) So did you record anything with Judith?
Jesse Larson: No, Prince did all of the guitars and vocals and bass on her album. I was just going to be her – what’s that?
Q) Did you meet him?
Jesse Larson: Oh yes I worked with him every day.
Q) What was he like?
Jesse Larson: Every day for 10 to 12 hours. Just as you imagine like what everybody else, you know, describes him as. He’s very reserved, very introverted, like a very like deep thinker. You know, he would just be a presence in the room pretty much all day, just be observing and making sure that what we were doing was his vision and his idea of what Judith’s sound was supposed to be. You know, so I mean every day he would sit there and watch us and coach us and guide us through the music and our show.
Q) Aliyah, I think you surprised everyone though by picking Blake. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that. I thought I even heard your mom screaming “Pick Adam.”
Aliyah Moulden: Well my mom was screaming “Pick Gwen.” But yes, I was just so shocked that he even turned around for me because he is an amazing coach and he has won the show so many times and he really cares for his contestants because I watch the show a lot. And the things that he told me, he kept talking about the future and going to the end and the distance. And I just really, really could see that he was genuine and that he really cared. And so were the other – so was Gwen and so was Alicia but it was just kind of like he – like – it was kind of like he was talking to me as if we were already working together. And I just really, really was star struck by him. I mean, I’m a huge fan and I just couldn’t believe that he even turned around for me. It was a blessing. And so I went with him because even though I don’t sing country music I just went with the one who I felt was going to connect with me the most.
Q) You seemed fearless, I mean, not nervous at all during that performance. Was that the case? And if so what did you attribute that to?
Aliyah Moulden: I wasn’t nervous the day actually. I think it’s because I get my nerves out the days before. Especially before any performance I can – I try to get all my nerves out before the day of because if I get nervous the day of I won’t be able to sing because my throat closes up when I get nervous. And also everybody on the team was so supportive and my mom was so encouraging. And there was nothing really to be afraid of because everybody was there for a reason and you were – everybody was so well prepared that there was – if it didn’t happen it was just because it wasn’t meant to happen. And I wasn’t nervous. I think I was so excited that it kind of like – I just couldn’t stop jumping around. It was funny.
Q) I have a question for Autumn, JChosen, and Savannah. Can you each talk about which coach you were hoping to win over going into your blind audition and then why you picked the coach you did? Like if you ended up picking a different coach than you initially anticipated, I’m wondering what was said to change your mind. So if we could start with Autumn maybe.
Autumn Turner: So I originally 100% always wanted to go with Alicia Keys but I wasn’t sure. You know, of course we don’t know what the outcome is going to be until it happens right in front of our eyes. And the moment Adam turned and he was the first one, like first ten seconds, and I was like that’s it. If it has to be Adam like you know, it will be Adam. And then Gwen turned and I’m like now I have a choice. So the whole time as each coach was turning around I really had no idea. And then as they started speaking to me I was like I don’t know. I might not even pick Alicia anymore. And then the final thing that she said like, you know, have fun and be yourself, that was it for me. I knew that I wanted her for a reason. And my mind was almost changed about 17 different times throughout the whole conversation with the coaches but I wound up just sticking with my initial gut.
Q) Great, how about you JChosen?
JChosen: Well let’s see, coming into the blinds when the chairs started to turn I really didn’t know who I wanted to pick honestly. I was telling people Alicia Keys, I was telling myself even Adam. But the thing that got me to pick Gwen was just simply her saying, you know, she had – pretty much her being diverse. And I know coming into the show I just didn’t want to perform to one audience and I said okay, I wanted to – my people always tell me, my mom always tell me to dream big so I don’t want to – I never want to put myself in a box and say okay well let’s think outside the box and grow. And so when Gwen had said what she said I can give you both sides because I have been in boy groups and I have the female tendency so to me all that just summed it up to be diverse. And I was like well at that moment I was like okay, it was a last minute decision. And I went with Gwen because I wanted the diversity.
Q) Awesome, and how about you Savannah?
Savannah Leighton: Well I always like loved Adam and I wanted him to turn so bad for me just because I have always been a huge Maroon 5 fan and a huge Adam Levine fan. And then Blake and Gwen were the only ones that turned and then so I was like – as soon as I got done singing I was like okay, it’s definitely Blake, you know, because I love country music too. And then Gwen started talking to me and she was like telling me how she has been in my shoes before and she just made me feel like she could really help me like with my confidence and stuff. Because that’s the main thing for me is confidence and I feel like she can really like help me build my confidence and so that is the main reason why I picked her.
Q) Autumn, I wanted to learn a little bit more about your connection to Montclair and the area and how that has influenced your music.
Autumn Turner: Well I went to middle school and elementary school in Bloomfield so I was always near Montclair throughout my life when I was little. And then in high school I went to an all-girls private school in Montclair. So I was, I mean, there five days a week for high school and a lot of my friends that I went to school with also lived in that area so I was there all the time hanging out with them. And then I went to Montclair State University and I had a minor in musical theater. So with musical theater as my background and for my minor in school, I mean, I guess Montclair is a very diverse town. It’s, you know, super connected to music and art and very artsy and everybody has got their something, you know, that they love about Montclair and I think for me it’s the art side of it and they appreciate music and there is always festivals and things of that nature. And so I actually sang for Montclair Stage which is run by a woman who – she was a lot of stuff in Montclair but Montclair Stage, every summer they have a show every weekend I think on Church Street. And basically I ran into her one day, she asked me to perform for them when I was in my old singing group and I did that. So between Montclair State and Montclair Stage with the shows that they had, I have done a lot of things with music in Montclair and I think being in this area and living in this area currently has helped me shape a little bit more of the direction I want to go with my music. But Montclair is very important to me.
Q) And Alicia appealed to your east coast connection.
Autumn Turner: Yes, her being from New York so it was – yes exactly. It was – she talked a little bit about how she just thinks it’s so cool that, you know, we’re very kind of the same mind, very down to earth. I don’t know that – again watching last night was insane so I’ve been trying to keep rewatching it to remember what everybody said. But I don’t know if it was shown but I do remember her saying to me that, you know, east coast, down to earth. And so for her to make that connection I thought that was very, very cool of her to say that so it just, you know, all made sense for me to be on her team.
Q) Jesse, your audition Adam was the only one that turned. Were you – did you have a coach picked that you would have picked other than Adam or had you planned to go with Adam?
Jesse Larson: To be honest with you I think a little bit I wanted Alicia Keys to be my coach but just because I love her music, I love her style, I love the way she carries herself, I love her as an artist. But Adam would definitely have been my second if not my first choice. I’ve been a big fan of his music for a long time as well. So and to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think it would have made a difference either way who ended up turning their chair if, you know, as long as I got a chair turn because every coach is, you know, amazingly talented and gifted as an artist and a musician and I’m just so fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing people. So I don’t think it would have mattered either way but as far as having Adam as my coach now I am very, very happy and I feel very fortunate.
Q) Did you ever think that, you know, if you had a chance to win this thing, you know, what are you going to do with the kids and how will you winning give a platform to the kids that you teach?
JChosen: Honestly winning – I haven’t been – I haven’t actually thought about if I win. Right now I guess I’m just taking it step by step. But if I did win I definitely would come back and, you know, support where I came from. I was always taught never burn the bridges that help you cross. And so I would definitely come back and love on my kids and just give back to the community. Because I mean, that’s who really makes you.
Q) Have they watched the show?
JChosen: Oh they have and I have been getting a lot of publicity here at school and it’s just – it’s amazing.
Q) Jesse you talked about being in the music business for 15 years. The story with Prince is fascinating but can you fill us in a little bit on the other things you’ve done musically to this point?
Jesse Larson: Yes of course. When I was 16 is when I started playing guitar and it kind of started with, you know, just like having friends over and playing, you know, back yards and garages and stuff like that and then it kind of progressed into playing bars and clubs when I was 17, 18 years old. So we were – we as in me and my brother and the people we had in our band were playing bars when we were 18, 19 years old. And then from there I got into a couple other like original groups and stuff, you know, just playing the bar scene, things like that. Nothing too crazy. And then about five years ago we started a band with a bunch of my friends from around here called MPLS like Minneapolis, MPLS, and we released an album two years ago called Hello and we have been, you know, touring around a little bit. We’ve opened up for Mint Condition a couple different times and we played First Avenue a couple of times here in Minneapolis. And at this point we’re just kind of, you know, supporting our album. We’re working on writing another album currently as well. But, you know, to be honest just like what I’ve done for the past 15 years is really just work really, really hard at what I do.
Q) Right, and so you’re still active with that group and what type of music do you play?
Jesse Larson: Yes sir. We do like – the basis of what we do is like the Minneapolis funk sound from the 80s like the Morris Day and the Time, Prince, all that stuff. And from there we kind of add some soul, R&B, hip hop influences, stuff like that. So it’s pretty diverse. And we have five front people in the band. We have a rapper and four singers.
Q) You have a pretty big band?
Jesse Larson: Yes it’s a lot of fun. People really enjoy it and I have a great time with it too.
Q) Jesse, what was the steps that it took for you to get on The Voice, like what made you make your decision like you know what, let me try The Voice. Because it seems like you were pretty comfortable with the band that you’re in.
Jesse Larson: To be honest I got a phone call and they said, you know, we saw your, you know, we’ve seen you on social media and some YouTube clips and stuff like that and we’re really interested. We’re wondering if you’d be interested in possibly auditioning for the TV show The Voice. And to be honest at first I was a little hesitant just because I wasn’t sure if that was the direction personally I wanted to go with what I do. Because I have always been a side man. I’ve been like the lead guitar player, back on my vocals and I sang a couple of songs in the night, so it was a big step for me to get in the mindset of being, you know, an artist and being the person in charge, you know, the focal point of a musical performance is kind of hard me to get in that head space. But to be honest like it was my wife that kind of pushed me into it. I had told her that I had got the phone call with interest in having me on the show and she said do it. Please do it for me. And I was like, you know, I think that was all I needed to believe in myself that I could make it happen and that I could do it. And so yes, that’s kind of how it happened. And then, you know, now I’m here which is crazy.