Tristan McIntosh – American Idol
Q) When you landed in the bottom two with Sonika, what was going through your mind? Were you surprised about America’s vote, and then also were you surprised to be eliminated? Maybe it came as a little bit of a shock because Sonika was in the bottom two, two weeks in a row.
Tristan: What I was thinking while I was on stage, honestly, was just that I need to give the best performance that I can give with what I’ve been given. So, it was amazing for Sonika to make it through and she was so happy and I’m just so happy for her.
Q) I feel like you finally found your lane on American Idol, that you are a country singer, and, like Harry said, you sing wonderfully when it’s coming from sort of a place of pain. Did it therefore confuse you a little bit when Jennifer suggested if you stuck around, you should switch things up? Like it’s kind of you finally found what works for you but then they were saying you’re flatlining, do you know what I mean?
Tristan: Yes, it surprised me a little bit when she suggested I change it up because I had found my groove in country music just doing country ballads and coming from a place of pain. But honestly, I understand where she was coming from, and I will definitely take that advice when I’m making my own music.
Q) I think it’s important for viewers to understand that as one of the younger contestants, you still have to balance schoolwork and you’re also required to have a guardian with you. Can you talk about how your experience may have differed from the older contestants on Idol?
Tristan: The ways in which my experience differed is for one, I usually have three hours of school a day while the other contestants are either in the blue room practicing their music, or they are practicing with the vocal coaches or on stage. Just having a guardian with you, means you head home faster than the other contestants. But honestly, I feel like it was such a great experience for me anyways. Even being a minor, it may have been more time consuming and having to pack a lot more into less time, but it was still great.
Q) How has your military community and your church community supported you during this high-pressure journey on American Idol?
Tristan: The military community is awesome and they definitely supported me and just really helped to get people to vote. I’ve made it this far because of my church community and just everybody who supports me, and my church community was awesome. In my feature last night, they were there with a whole bunch of signs, and it was amazing.
Q) What advice do you have for the remaining contestants if they’ve found themselves in the bottom?
Tristan: There’s no longer a bottom anymore, but just to enjoy yourself throughout the whole experience. Because think of this, there’s not really that many people who’ve made it into the top five, and they’re one of them. So, just enjoy the experience.
Q) Looking back, do you think you would’ve sang a different song for your last song?
Tristan: I had wondered that myself, but honestly, I think I went out with what I’m good at and that’s just doing country and being myself and performing and putting all my emotions in my performance.
Q) The country artist that you would most want to be mentored by and why?
Tristan: I’d probably want to be mentored by Martina McBride; she was phenomenal. I’ve covered two of her songs this season, and since I was very little, I always really admired her and I would watch her videos on YouTube. She’s just really great, and I feel like she’d be a great mentor.
Q) Tristan, going back to the topic of age, since you’re only 15 years old, I would think the competition would be incredibly stressful for you, if not overwhelming and a little bit scary. Looking back, do you think this was the perfect time for you to compete on the show, especially considering, like Harry said, you will improve with age. I guess do you wish there were more seasons of Idol so could have auditioned later on?
Tristan: I honestly don’t think there was a more perfect time because I was 15, this is Season 15, it’s just so amazing for me to even be here. It was a great way to just start my career because, honestly, if you could have started it anywhere, why not on American Idol in the top six?
Q) A few weeks ago, we saw a clip of you getting really excited to sing the song, “Clarity,” but then Scott Borchetta shot the idea down, and it did, unfortunately, make you cry. Could you talk about that moment for me? Why did having to change songs make you so emotional? Was it frustration or something else going on there?
Tristan: It was the experience, it was the Friday after the show, so I was still trying to figure out which song I was doing, and I had practiced that one all day. I guess I was just really tired, and I was kind of overwhelmed with the fact that I had to change my song, again, but it worked out anyway, so that’s really nice.
Q) The Martina McBride songs, I know you just said you were a big fan of hers, but if I recall, I think Kelly Clarkson suggested you should sing one of her songs. So I guess, your song choice, did that come from Kelly or was that your own idea?
Tristan: Kelly suggested I sing Trisha Yearwood, and I was definitely considering that.
Q) Your mother was an integral part of your story all the way back to auditions. I want to know how she was taking it last night after the show, because she’s your biggest supporter.
Tristan: I feel like my whole family took it really well, because just to be in the top six is an honor in itself, and it’s amazing to be here. It’s a great experience, especially at 15. This, as I’ve been saying, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. It was a great place to start my career.
Q) It seems like Scott Borchetta really, really still wants to work with you, at least that’s the vibe I pick up. Do you have any kind of a post Idol Nashville plan, or any thoughts?
Tristan: I can’t really think of anything right now, no, to answer that question. Sorry.
Q) What were you planning on performing if you had made it through?
Tristan: I was planning to perform “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi.
Q) I’m just wondering, where does your love of country music come from? What are your major influences?
Tristan: I feel like one of my major influences for my love of country would definitely be my grandfather, because he was the one who’s always loved country music before I was born and just really got me into it. Then when I was younger, he introduced me to some of the artists and some of the songs, and I really fell in love with them and just listened to them and would sing them around the house all the time. So, I would have to say my grandfather.
Q) You never considered being a pop singer or had an interest in singing pop?
Tristan: I feel like I always considered everything as an artist and people would always pin me to do pop music, but in the end, I just always wanted to do country. It always came back.
Q) How difficult was it for you during the competition to choose songs? Did you feel pulled in different directions?
Tristan: Initially, I was not very sure of myself or my song choices, but as the competition progressed, I really came into my own and really stood up for my choices and was really just very confident in what I chose and felt like my voice would sound best with. So, the competition really helped me find a sense of just my own artistry.
Q) Were there times, say earlier, where you went with the flow more, and then later you stood up for yourself and held fast for certain things that you wanted to do?
Tristan: I would say that in the beginning you’re kind of like, oh yeah, let’s just do this, maybe it’ll sound good, and you’re just experimenting and you’re not really thinking about how it will affect you in the end. But as I went on, I became more self-aware of the songs I was choosing and how I would connect to them and how, when I connected to them, how they looked; not just how they felt and how they looked and just performing those songs really made me feel confident about myself. So, I kept choosing songs that made me feel that way.
Q) You were set to sing Bon Jovi if you had made it through. What was your thinking, because that seems—I know Jordan Sparks sang Bon Jovi, why everyone did that week, so what am I talking about—what was your thinking in choosing that Bon Jovi song, because it seemed a little bit different than what you had done before?
Tristan: A few weeks earlier, I had just been looking over a list of songs because you know you always should have songs prepared for the weeks ahead; be proactive. But, I saw that one and I’m like, what’s this song, because I like Bon Jovi, and I just haven’t heard that song. So, I was listening to it, I’m like, this would be a great song to slow down. So, I started practicing it, and it just kind of happened, and somebody suggested it on the Idol request, and I was overjoyed and I decided to cover that song.
Q) If it would have been slowed down, were going to play piano?
Tristan: No, I was not. I was going to be on a mic stand.
Q) Throughout the whole competition, what was your favorite song to perform and why?
Tristan: Throughout the whole competition, my favorite song that I performed was probably “Go Rest High” by Vince Gill. It was my favorite because I really was attached to it and the melody and the piano and it just all really came together.
Q) What does American Idol mean to you, maybe having grown up watching it, and now having been a contestant of the show?
Tristan: American Idol was, literally, basically a dream come true because as I was performing, I got a letter from my old English teacher that when I was younger, I said that I was going to be on American Idol because I was watching it and I was going to be on it. So, it was really cool to be able to audition for it and get as far as I did.
Q) Who do you think will be the last winner of American Idol?
Tristan: Honestly, every single person on that stage deserves it. They’re just amazing people and amazing performers and artists, and any of them would make a great final Idol.
Q) What’s your best piece of advice for someone who would be busy with a relationship and with school and trying to find that balance, because you’re a very busy person with your singing career and school? You can balance everything and you will, but what do you think that you will do to have that balance because it’s so hard to find?
Tristan: Honestly, I just think it’s communication, it’s always communication. You just need to be able to understand another person’s situation and be able to trust them and go with it.
Q) Which judge did you earn the most from, Tristan? You got a lot of advice. What stuck with you?
Tristan: Honestly, I’m just taking all their advice and just using it to my advantage, because not everybody gets a chance to go on stage and have three very successful musicians tell them how they were successful and how to be successful in this business.
Q) Was there ever anything that was said that kind of led you in another direction with your song choice for the next week, or did you just take everything as it comes?
Tristan: I definitely took one of their comments as just to be more comfortable on stage. As I became more comfortable as the rounds progressed, I really felt more confident as a performer and as an artist, and that’s really going to help me.
Q) You are on the final season of American Idol, that’s a big historical season. Has that sunk in? Has that resonated with you?
Tristan: Honestly, I’m just taking everything day by day. It’s amazing and just to have had this opportunity was great, because I met so many great people and just the amazing teams that worked with me, I just can’t explain how grateful I am to have had this opportunity.
Q) Which was your favorite week?
Tristan: I’d have to say my favorite week was—I don’t know, every week was really fun because I got to spend it with great people. All the contestants are amazing people, and they always make me laugh. So, just every week that I spent with them was amazing.
Q) Did Adam Lambert talk to you at all?
Tristan: Adam was backstage with us for maybe three minutes, and those three minutes were amazing, because he’s a very kind person and was very upbeat and just was—he gave us good advice and was really nice to us.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your music?
Tristan Well, I just want to thank everybody who supported me, and it’s been amazing. As a musician, I really just want to make country music for just people who really feel the music and it won’t just be meaningless, it’ll have a meaning and it’ll be appropriate for young girls and just to be able to sing on stage and I just really want to make a difference in the country community.