Friday, I had the opportunity to participate in a media call with David Archuleta. He shared lots about his experience on American Idol and where he hopes his future career will lead him. I wish him the best of luck with his music career.
So you know I saw after the finale during the press conference you did, you said that you felt a sense of relief. I was just wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit. Why were you feeling that?
D. Archuleta: Well, since this whole thing has lasted so long, the first audition was in January and we hadnít been living at home since the beginning of February and thatís how long weíve been working every week for each performance each week and having to compete in a way, even though I try not to look at it as competing against other people, but more against myself. Each week and as the weeks went on, we had more songs each week to have to learn along with other things. With this final week, it was the busiest of all. It was hard to find time to even rehearse and stuff along with school and everything else going on. So on that Tuesday night I just tried to make sure I didnít regret anything I did and so I think I did that. It was just such a relief to just feel good about what I did and the fact that that was the last impression I gave on the show. The competition is all over and now itís time to really focus on music.
Whatís your plans moving forward? I mean, do you plan on finishing up high school? Do you think youíll go to college? Do you think youíll work on an album first? What are your plans moving forward?
D. Archuleta: Well, Iíd like to keep trying to do school while I work on music. You know, thatís kind of what Iíve been doing through this school. Every day I still have to do school and even after this interview I have to go to school. I think schoolís really important. It was my main priority before this because I wasnít sure if I was going to be able to get anywhere with music, but I was still hoping for something. Even if music does turn out to go somewhere for me, you never know how long itíll last. So I just want to make sure I have something to back me up on that, because I want to do music all my life. I just donít know if Iíll be able to make a living off of it for the rest of my life. So Iíd like to have to have something else to be able to do. Iím still looking at options and careers that Iíd be interested in in the future.
To follow on that, David, what careers are you interested in?
D. Archuleta: You know, I kind of change my mind here and there. Lately what I find is really interesting is that ear and nose throat doctor thing, which I know would take a lot of work and education, but I think itís just something that really interests me because itís something that helps people whoíve had the same problems as me with the whole hearing and nose congestion and problems with your voice. Itís just like something I can really relate to people with, because itís like Iíve had so many issues with that stuff, so itíd be great to study into that more and be able to help out with all those problems and also learn about it.
What would you say to people who were ardent fans of yours who thought that you had done the best job and who were disappointed that you didnít win? What was the high point of the show for you?
D. Archuleta: Well, to the people whoíve been supporting me so much, I just want to thank them, first of all, just because it means more than anything to know that people are appreciating the hard work that we put into this. I want them to know that Iím just feeling great about it. The fact that Cook won, I think he deserved it so much. He just proved it week after week that he deserved to be the American Idol even early in the competition. Heís such a great guy too. My main priority wasnít to win the competition, but it was just to do my best because you can suck and people can vote, but not for you to win and that wouldnít feel very good. I think we both gave it all. We just poured it all onto that stage on Tuesday night and we both feel really great about it. I donít think I could have done anything better or change anything to make me feel any better about what I did. Not winning the competition wonít limit me from trying to create an album and write stuff. I think this has just been such a great opportunity to open all those doors that werenít open and available before this all happened. To make it to the top two, I donít think thereís any reason to be disappointed at that.
Your voice was so beautiful Tuesday night. I really felt that you did an outstanding job. I want to go back a little bit to top 20 week, which to me was one of the best moments of live TV when you were caught on camera with the tears and embrace between you and AlexíAndrea Lawton. I thought she went home way too early, but can you tell me what caused your intense reaction? Have you heard from her since then and any chance you might sing together in the future?
D. Archuleta: I have texted her every now and then and sheís called a few times since. She was one of the kids who Iíd spent a lot of time with because of school. Both her and Alaina. We just all bonded and got really close and all understood each other because we all had school along with everything else going on. She was someone that I just got along with really quickly in the competition for some reason, so it was hard to see her leave when it was so unexpected for me. I thought I was handing it pretty well until she started singing the song which is ďIf you leave me nowĒ. Oh my gosh, how ironic. Thatís not a good song for her to be singing right now, so it just hit me.
I cried too.
D. Archuleta: I was a little embarrassed because I was like oh gosh Iím crying on TV. None of my friends have ever seen me cry or anything. You know, it was hard. I couldnít help it. Even though I was embarrassed, I couldnít hold it back.
Will you be playing the piano on tour at all?
D. Archuleta: You know, Iíve thought about it. I might. Weíre still kind of trying to figure out like settling the songs. Iíve thought about a few songs that I would enjoy to play piano with. Itís just a matter of finding time to fit piano into the schedule. With this whole experience itís so hard to find time to practice an instrument, especially with piano and I donít have one here. So Iíve gotten tighter. Iím not as loose as I was before and I didnít really consider myself one of the greatest pianists in the world or anything before this. It was a risk I took on the show trying to do it because when you play an instrument it gives you a whole new sense of connection to the song youíre doing because itís like the music youíre singing to is at the tip of your fingers. Itís in your hands literally. Itís a different feel, but itís something that I definitely want to continue to practice and work on because I still do get a little distracted as Iím playing and I donít want the piano and the focus on playing the piano to distract myself from connecting with the song the way I can without having to play. Itís definitely something I want to keep working on because itís something I really enjoy to do. Hopefully with this big break of rehearsal time before the tour starts, it will allow me to not have to worry so much and not have to learn a song in just a few days before performing it live on a show along with trying to arrange the song and figure out what to do best with it, to give it your all on stage.
Iím wondering what the best advice was that the judges gave you.
D. Archuleta: You know, I always really enjoy when they mention the fact that they could feel that I was connecting with the song and that they could feel it too like when Paula would say that and when Randy would say ďThat was the bomb.Ē It didnít really make sense when he spoke sometimes. When they can tell that I really felt that the song I was singing means a lot to me, but also when they have advice to give too helps a lot, even the smallest of advice. Any piece of advice wants me to do better and itís great when people let you know what you could work on, because you canít do better when youíre not aware of the things you can work on.
What was the thing that you really took away with you? What was the piece of advice that really struck you?
D. Archuleta: Iím not sure if thereís anything that really struck me. Something Paula said was just to really enjoy being on the stage and to remember why Ė That just reminded me like this is the chance of a lifetime and you have had it every week being able to perform for so many people each week and be able to share what you love to do. It was a time when it was getting pretty rough and she just said to just remember to enjoy it. So itís like, you know, sheís right. This is such a great opportunity and I just have to remember to stay away from getting too technical in singing and to remember to have fun up there.
Was it really hard to hear your dad criticized?
D. Archuleta: I hadnít really heard much of it until later on. I tried to stay away from the press and my dad also. He understood that I didnít like to hear anything going on in the news about me good or bad, just because I didnít want it to distract me or let it go to my head or anything like that. I just wanted to stay myself and how I was at the beginning of the competition before all this happened. I wanted to keep who I was, the normal teenage David. In interviews and stuff it started coming up and it was just kind of strange because there were really weird things. I heard one thing was like he refused to give me water or something like that. Thatís the weirdest thing. I mean, Iím 17 and if I want water Iím pretty sure I would just go get it anyway. Another thing was like he made me cry during one of the recording studios or something like that. I canít remember really. Just weird things like that. Iím old enough to have enough control over myself. Then the next thing is heís a great guy. There isnít really anything heís done thatís bad like the things that have been spoken about him. You know, my whole family has been such a great support and theyíre the ones whoíve kept me grounded and allowed me to be who I am today. No one understands what Iím here for more than they do. They get what I love about music and how itís changed my life. Theyíve witnessed what itís done for me and so they understand what I want to do while Iím here.
I was wondering what kind of album you hoped to make when you get started on that.
D. Archuleta: Well Iíd love to do the pop thing just because Iím still a teenager. On the show I was getting a little mature with my songs even though I love to do that stuff. I still want to be able to relate to the kids my age. I like the pop music, but I still want to have meaning in my music. So Iíd still like to do some fun stuff along with songs that have more meaning in them. John Mayer and Ö are examples I use as people who have done the more pop side of music, but their music is so Ė I call it Ė real. Itís real music where it has meaning and depth to it still. Theyíre respected as real musicians and artists.
I also kind of wanted to know how do you think that your experience on Star Search helped you maybe prepare mentally for what Idol was going to be like.
D. Archuleta: Well, itís weird how different they are. Theyíre both competitions and they both required you to edit songs and try to show as much as you could during that small time you had on stage. You know, itís weird. Theyíre both so different and so similar at the same time. I guess just that, realizing that I needed to focus on the enjoyment, like just having fun on stage and really loving what Iím doing. When I was little I didnít even think I deserved to be on Star Search. I didnít think I was good enough and I was confused that I kept going on. I was such an airhead. Well, Iím still pretty much an airhead. I was just like I donít get why Iím still here. The people are going against are better than me and stuff. It just helped me to really keep focused I guess, because I understand that it takes a lot of work to do these kinds of things and to be able to show what you can do in that small amount of time. This show, fortunately, allowed more time and it lasted longer. I donít know. I donít know where Iím going with this. You know, it just allows you to prepare. You know how to prepare for the short edit of the song. It was really completely different experiences. Also, the age difference. I was so young. I know. It sounds weird to me saying I was so young back then even though it was just three years ago. Being 12, I was still so new to it all. I was just like the little soul kid who was into soulful R&B music. I think Iíve been more identified as a person now and understand myself better now.
I had an interview with you quite a little while ago now where you said that between schoolwork and music and stuff like that, you donít really have time for a girlfriend and that kind of thing and you werenít really interested in that at that time. Is that still true even though you have all this female attention?
D. Archuleta: I think now itís really time to focus on making an album and writing songs and all that. I just feel like being 17 Iím not really mature enough to understand those feelings yet. Iíve just watched so many of my friends like, ďOh we broke up and how sad it is in my life. I canít live without them.Ē Iím like, ďYouíre 17. What are you talking about? You have so much more. You have school. What are you going to do for a living? Itís not like youíre going to live off of that person or anything. Itís not like your infatuation with them is going to support you.Ē I just want to make sure I donít get confused with a feeling for someone so quickly and then Ė I donít know. It just bugs me with all the drama. I so donít want to deal with the drama right now. I just want to be able to focus on music and then when I feel like Iíve met a girl who has a great personality and someone I can connect with and has really good standards for themselves and has respect for themselves, but not like in an arrogant way, just someone who cares about others as well, itís not all about them. I donít know. Itís just something I will definitely want to focus on later on in life when Iím ready, but I just feel like Iím so young. Iím still learning so much and have to get to know what kind of things I look into someone. You have to meet a lot of different people to get your own opinion on someone.
Nigel Lithgow said that it got to a stage where the producers felt that you working so closely with your vocal coach and I think you had somebody you work with arrangements with as well as your dad and working so closely with your dad, it got to be an unfair advantage for you. Do you agree with that? Do you think you had an unfair advantage?
D. Archuleta: Well with my vocal coach I donít. All I did with him was do vocal exercises with him, so he didnít really do anything. I would call him every now and then. It wasnít like an everyday thing, but just like when Iíd feel a little worn out like right now. I would just call him and just ask if he could help me loosen up my voice. Iím not the only person whoís had a vocal coach whoís called just to help with keeping your voice in shape and keep up the endurance. Itís just been something thatís helpful. There have been weeks where I havenít called him. Just every now and then I would and heís been great help in teaching me how to keep my voice in shape. You know, he hasnít really done anything. Itís just up to me more what I do on stage and in the moment really too what you feel when you sing on stage. I guess it depends. Itís more based on feeling. I donít know. He hasnít really done too much. Well, he hasnít done anything really with the arrangements or anything like that. Itís all just been keeping my voice loosened up, as he says.
When did you feel during the season you were getting more comfortable in front of the cameras?
D. Archuleta: Iím not sure. I guess it just kind of slowly happened. Itís like each week you get a little more comfortable in front of the cameras. Well, each time. we were on stage you kind of forget that anything is really there just because you get so into the song. You want to make sure that you really express what you wanted to with the song, so all my attention focuses on the song. Well, mostly but sometimes you get a little distracted on stage. I guess it just slowly happened. I mean, even with interviews and pictures. I hated pictures at the beginning of this. Iíd always like run away from cameras even just with friends and stuff. Iíd always be the one hiding behind a bush or something. Itís because I hate looking at myself. I still donít really like looking at pictures of myself. Iíve never watched myself on the show. I would just do something else when the show was on and maybe like my family was watching it or something. I canít stand hearing my voice. Iím okay with just talking to the cameras and stuff as long as I donít have to hear it afterwards unless maybe I can learn something from it.
You do have a lot of fans both on the Internet and everywhere. It is difficult dealing with all of that attention, or do you quite enjoy the fact that they enjoy your music so much?
D. Archuleta: You know, I havenít paid too much attention to the fact that I donít think it really has hit me that there are really fans out there for me. Itís just such a weird thought to think, but I do think of it as more of people who have appreciated what Iíve done. All the letters that have been sent, I tried to read as many as I could. Thereís a lot of pressing going on, but thereís more free time to be able to read those letters that I wasnít able to catch up on just because it got so busy at the end and just more letters came the longer youíre on the show. Just every letter was so unique. I couldnít believe how many people were just saying thank you for singing certain songs and how my singing was able to inspire them even. A lot of people used the word Ďinspiredí in their letters and I was having my teacher read them to me at a certain point, because the only free time I had was during school. I had to go to school during my free time when other people had their free time, so it was like I didnít really have any free time. So sheíd read the letters and she said, ďIíve never seen so many people use the word Ďinspiredí in letters.Ē I just thought that was really cool, the fact that I was able to do that with my music. I wasnít just like, ďOh, Iím obsessed with youĒ and ďMarry meĒ and ďYouíre so hotĒ and stuff. It was the fact that people were able to feel what I was trying to give off as I sang is one of the coolest feelings ever.
Iím wondering, you seem to handle everything with such grace and poise. What for you was really the biggest hurdle of this whole experience or any roadblocks that you felt during the time on Idol?
D. Archuleta: Well, Iíve just tried to deal with all the struggles throughout this and try to learn from them really. I try not to look at it as like that was a terrible time. I try to think of that being a challenge I was able to learn from. I think the more you stress out about something, the worse time youíll have. I really didnít want to focus on that kind of stuff when you try to think about this as such a great experience. Iíll never get this opportunity again. This is just an experience of a lifetime. I really wanted to enjoy it as I could because I didnít want any bad experiences from this and I just tried to focus on the good things going on while this all happened. I just really wanted to have the best time with this. When you try to keep a good, positive attitude even through the hard things, I think it just affects your overall mood and how you see other things. I wanted to keep a positive attitude with the songs. Sometimes it would get really difficult. Some of the difficult times was when I tried arranging a song and then thereís just so many different opinions from the arrangers and producers and stuff. Itíd get hard because itíd get confusing when I wouldnít be able to try something. I remember ďThink of meĒ. That week it was just really difficult because so many people were saying different things. It was definitely a new arrangement for me and I canít even remember why. I think it was really cool because it was a time that I tried an arrangement that was completely from my head and I thought, wow this is really different.
Moving on as you pursue your career, do you have any dream collaborations? Like if you could work with any artist, who would that be?
D. Archuleta: You know, someone I always thought would be really cool was Alicia Keys just because she is someone that gets so into her songs when she sings and you can just feel her emotions as she sings. Itís really cool. She plays piano very well as a songwriter.
For the instruments, if youíre a guitar player obviously you can keep your guitar in your room there. For you and Brooke playing the piano, you didnít have a piano in your room. Was it hard to find one to practice on?
D. Archuleta: It did get a little difficult. There were pianos at the studios that we were able to practice on. Later on we were able to get pianos. Not really pianos but the cheap little keyboards into our rooms that we were able to practice with, which was really fortunate because it was pretty rough before. Hopefully Iíll be able to find a keyboard to take with me on the road just because if I want to do it on tour Iíd love to do it on tour. I donít want to get rusty or anything, because I still need to work on my piano playing and Iíd love to get every chance I can to practice that with the new free time we have now.
And then the thing about the school and the career, are you just finishing your senior year of high school now?
D. Archuleta: Iím actually just finishing my junior year.
So next year some people are going to urge you to do like Jordin Sparks did and say well just home school or something through your last year or GED or something and focus full-time on your music. What are you thinking youíre going to be doing this next year?
D. Archuleta: Well, Iím just seeing where music goes from here and I think home school is a good idea because itís something Iíve done. Iíve probably home schooled for half of my life, so itís not anything new to me. If that does come where I have to do that, then thatís something Iím up for because itís something Iím used to doing. If it made it easier on Jordin to do while handling all the music going on for her, then thatís probably the best option for me if I wonít be able to be doing to school. If nothing is going on, if that unfortunate thing comes up, then I would still like to focus on school as much as I can. For now Iíd just love to take these opportunities that are available right now and to work on music as much as I can. I still will focus on school, but right now I do not want to let go of music.
David, do you have any closing remarks?
D. Archuleta: Well Iíd just like to thank everyone for their time and them wanting to speak with me even though Iím out of it right now. Itís just all the press and stuff. I appreciate all the support people have been giving and it means a lot to me when people appreciate the hard work Iíve been putting into this. It makes me want to continue this even more.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this media call.