HHM – For starters, I just want to say congratulations Chevonne, on making it as deep as you did on The Voice; definitely a tough competition, hell of a performance and effort on your part.
Thank you!! That means so much. I really did leave it all on that stage each time. And I really stuck to my guns when it came to song choices, outfit choices, the way I told my story. I was nothing but me the whole time.
HHM – On that note, how have you been adjusting? It hasn’t even been THAT long since you were rocking the national stage. Have you had time to catch your breath? How has the transition from national television been?
At first it was hard to fly home and leave the show. I had such a blast, and when I left I missed the friends I had made so badly. You really do grow so close over a short time. Not only that, but unlike other contestants, The Voice was “work” for me so I was coming home to no job! So when I got back, I just jumped right into work mode. I’m writing songs, updating my social media and web presence, my band and I are out doing shows. I’ve been given the gift of this awesome fan base from being on the show, and I’m super excited and motivated about the very real possibility of a career as a solo pop artist. So, long story short, I’m working my butt off but I’m SO happy to be doing what I’m doing!
HHM – Can you tell me a little bit about your experience on the show? Did you enjoy it? How was it getting a chance to hang with some of America’s top musicians?
I enjoyed every second of it. I did succumb to nerves and anxiety a couple of times when I probably should’ve just chilled out. But it was so awesome and fun being on the show, so the constant prospect of elimination makes you feel nervous and edgy! By the end of my time on The Voice, I did learn how to control those issues. Besides that, it was heaven. It was so cool and unusual to be living and working with 64 people just like me: non-celebrities with varying degrees of industry success, just trying their hand at making it as artists. I was so relieved and inspired to know that there are others out there grinding and risking it all just to gain fans and listeners. And the coaches! Just being in the room with them, hearing their advice and taking in everything they say…it was like a master class in Superstar Education! I’ll forever treasure the time I spent learning from and talking to Cee Lo Green, Rob Thomas, and Christina Aguilera. Especially the moments that didn’t make it to the show…the more personal and long-form interactions that got edited out were so amazing and humbling.
HHM – How did it feel to be saved by Christina Aguilera?
Ahh! I really felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Her first couple of songs were some of the first songs I ever sang. When my parents weren’t home, I’d turn up the radio and belt out her ballads. I learned every ad-lib inside and out. I watched her on TV all wide-eyed, just dreaming of the day that I could sing and move like her.
HHM – Other than yourself [obviously] who did you think was the best in the competition, and why?
I loved and looked up to so many of my fellow contestants. I was particularly blown away by my Team Cee Lo brothers Mycle Wastman and Nicholas David; also my Cee Lo sis Amanda Brown. It was so cool to watch her make it to the Top 6 and totally shock everybody with “Dream On” by Aerosmith. Nicole Nelson on Team Adam was a dear friend and one of my favorites as well. Now that we’re down to three, I’m totally pulling for Nick all the way. But Cassadee is a warrior, and it would be awesome to see a girl win. I’m not sure I can pick an overall favorite, though. I think all of us can exist together outside of the show! There’s room for everyone.
HHM – So tell me a little bit about your Kickstarter. What made you choose that rout, as opposed to shopping for labels? How has the fan response been so far? Is this a springboard for your career?
I just felt like immediately after my success and instant surge in fans on The Voice, I had to take my career into my own hands. With Kickstarter, social media, and user-friendly music programming software that’s out there today, it’s almost smarter for someone completely indie like myself to just get to work on my own. We’ve got the tools. I’ll definitely shop for labels someday, but the reality is that they’re more inclined to sign someone who has developed their own image, a signature sound, grown a fan base, plays shows, etc etc etc. A polished artist who knows herself is way more of a sure bet for a major label! So I’m trying to put as much of that as I can in place before knocking on the big doors. The Kickstarter is going to provide me the funding I need to make my first debut record and one really kickass video; I’m 88% funded and I have about 60 hours left to raise the rest of the money. If I don’t reach 100%, all the money is given back to the people who’ve pledged it. But I think I’m really going to do this! If I can make a great, high-quality record and video on fan support alone, I think that definitely says something about my staying power in the industry. I’m really excited!
HHM – “Rock meets soul under a pop umbrella” seems to be what fans can expect from your album, but can you go into a little bit of detail? I know this is a question that most artists loathe, but are there any musicians, current or old-school, that you can compare yourself and your sound to?
There are traces of En Vogue, Bruno Mars, Queen, 80s hair bands, Blondie. It’s definitely eclectic. And then there are moments where it’s just very Chevonne – something you’ve never heard from anyone else. I like to challenge the idea that female pop artists have to be hot or beautiful all the time. It’s okay to let your hair down and be a little goofy, a little nerdy. I also like to play with masculine and feminine energies – sometimes I sound like a straight-up dude. But I always gravitated toward androgynous artists who were just these mysterious, elusive beings, like Prince, Jimi Hendrix, and Annie Lennox. At the end of the day, this music I’m making is just going to be fun. You’ll be able to hear me having the time of my life; even in the more tender and vulnerable ballads, I’m just LIVING. And I want that feeling to be contagious when you listen or see me at a show. I want to make people happy!
HHM – What can fans expect as to the lyrical theme of your full length? Will it be more conceptual or all over the place? Are there any personal thoughts that you cannot wait to vocally lay down?
At this point in my life, I’ve fallen in love and found my soul mate. But before that, I spent a lot of time feeling lonely, and it took me a long time to get my career on track. I’ve done a lot of searching, and even after finding true love and success, there are still complex feelings that arise. There is one song about the terrifying thought of being so in love with someone that you will be emotionally paralyzed if you lose them; you are so entwined that there IS no life if the other person isn’t there. And the sad thing is, we’re human. We’re all going to lose everyone we know, and they are going to lose us too. It’s crazy how much heavy sadness can come out of pure bliss, and vice versa. But I digress! I’ll be singing about love, sex, parties, life on the road, becoming a woman and finding the confidence to truly love and accept myself…everything I have lived in my 27 years. I don’t know if I’ll delve into darker and more complicated personal stories until future albums. This one’s primarily about celebrating life and love and feeling joy.
HHM – One of your goals with Kick Starter is to make a professional music video; any ideas for the videos theme? Story? Vibe? Look? What can your fans expect?
It depends on the song! I haven’t chosen a single yet. But I know I definitely want the video to be driven by humor and a wink…I’ve always been into silly stuff like The Muppets and strange cartoons, so I want people to laugh with me. And I want to do something that is sexy without being sexual. I’m a woman, and I want to present myself as such. There are classier ways to show you’re beautiful and confident than hanging props off your boobs!
HHM – Now you must realize Chevonne, I would be crucified if I didn’t ask; how the hell was working with Lady Gaga? You sang and danced backup for Gaga on the Monsterball Tour, if I’m not mistaken? Anything you would care to share on this matter would be great. How was she? How was the tour life? Go nuts.
Working with Lady Gaga was mind-blowingly cool. She is an awesome, funny, ridiculously talented mad genius. She’s a punk rocker to her core and she knows how to have a good time. She’s also beyond serious about her career and completely runs the show. All of the grand staging, the outrageous costuming, everything you see and hear comes straight out of her doodles and daydreams. I am so in awe of her and everything she has accomplished so far. And I was actually a Gaga fan before she was signed – I visited her MySpace page on the regular back in 2005/6 when she had brown hair and played shows in NYC! So being a part of her arena show and being able to perform for and interact with all the Little Monsters around the world was such a privilege and an honor. She is just so, so great!
HHM – Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans and our readers?
The best is yet to come! If you’ve seen/heard me on The Voice, you’ve only seen/heard a fraction of what I can do. I’m so excited to share my many facets with you and entertain the world.
HHM – Thank you for your time, I wish you the best of luck with your Kickstarter, your album, your video, and all of your future musical endeavors.
Thanks so much for this interview! It was really engaging and your questions were wonderful! Hope we can do it again soon.
Interview by Matt Crane – HHM
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