Blake Lewis is ready to be so much more than the "American Idol Runner-Up", and he's proving it with his super-cool debut album Audio Day Dream. He recently talked to IML about how music and beatboxing started out as a way to entertain himself as a lonely kid...and eventually opened up a whole new world of dreams come true.
IML: First of all, congrats on Audio Day Dream! Are there any songs that are particularly close to your heart?
Blake: Definitely! I dug deep on this. A lot of the songs came organically and some of them came from my writing journals. There's a song called "How Many Words" on the record that's about my relationship with my ex-girlfriend. There are a lot of double meanings and metaphors in that song, and the mood of the song makes it one of my favorite pieces on the record. It's got a very 80's kind of sound to it. It's one that I hope will be a single just because it means so much to me. Then there's a song that's completely different called "What'cha Got 2 Lose" that I wrote with my fellow Idol castmate Chris Richardson. That one I got to co-produce as well, which was a big, big deal to me because I love producing music and the fact that I got to do that on my first major release is huge.
IML: Your mom is a musician too -- what did you learn about music from her?
Blake: She's been playing since she was 14 or 15, when she became a hippie and all that. The whole time I was growing up, she was always playing the guitar and singing so I just grew up with that in the household. I loved going to music festivals she'd play. She's a finger-picker on guitar and because of that I've never really used a pick. She's just been a huge influence in terms playing guitar and writing on the guitar.
IML: What were you like in middle school?
Blake: Oh man, I was just the hellion kid in class, always causing a ruckus with my friends and always entertaining. I was like the shortest kid in class too, so I'd be getting made fun of while people were laughing at my jokes at the same time.
IML: Was music part of your life back then?
Blake: Oh yeah, definitely. I've been singing since I was five, I was in choir since before I can remember. In junior high, I got into a professional choir where we toured Europe in competitions. At one, we got awarded 4th best choir in the world! In high school I got into performing, doing musicals and one-acts, and also sketch comedy stuff.
IML: How did being involved in music help you with the aches and pains of growing up? Was that an outlet for you to make friends or relieve stress?
Blake: Oh, all of the above! When I could get on stage, that's where I felt I belonged. It was home to be on stage with other people. It was a chance for me to put myself out there, with me being wacky. I take my music seriously, but I don't really take myself too seriously. I like to make fun of myself -- and others.
IML: What was it about beatboxing in particular that first appealed to you?
Blake: Well, I was constantly making noise growing up! I was an only child and I didn't have any friends until I was about 10 or 11 because where we were living, there was no one around me. So I would be by myself playing with my GI Joes, doing all the sound effects. I didn't have a consciousness as to what beatboxing was until my junior or senior year in high school, when I saw an a cappella group do it. They had a designated beatboxer holding down all the beats, and I thought, oh, I can do that! At the time I was into doing voices from shows like South Park and working them into my singing. So as soon as I saw someone beatboxing, I realized I had been doing it my whole life without knowing it. So from then on I was constantly making MORE noise.
IML: On American Idol, you grabbed people's attention because you had your own style and weren't afraid to put it out there. What's your advice to young people who might be afraid to experiment and explore their own style, whether it be in the arts or with fashion or some other way?
Blake: It really is all about putting yourself out there. You have to remember that not everyone's going to like you no matter what, in any circumstances. So you just have to get over that and be yourself. Be true to you and do what you're passionate about.
IML: It seemed like you and your Idol castmates all got along really well. What did you learn about friendship during that experience?
Blake: The whole thing really taught me that no matter where you are in the world, you can always make a friend. It was easy on Idol because we were all passionate about what we were doing, and we were all doing the same thing. It was really easy to make friends there. We were all in it together, even though it was a show about competition. We were all experiencing something new and that's a strong foundation for friendship. We're people with really different backgrounds and we could still feed off of each other and end up being friends. It's really amazing.
IML: Absolutely! Thanks, Blake, and good luck!
Blake: Thank you!
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