A few weeks ago, I got the chance to chat with American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart. It has been an entire year since Haley placed third on the tenth season of American Idol and toured the world with her fellow contestants. Fast forward to now and the 21-year-old Illinois native has just released her debut studio album Listen Up! via 19/Interscope Records.. Check out my interview with Haley below where we talked about Idol, the album, and answered a few fan questions. Enjoy!
Jon: Hey Haley! How are you doing?
Haley: I’m good, I’m in my apartment right now, just relaxing in L.A.
Jon: Great! I was actually rooting for you on American Idol so I’m super excited that you’re finally getting out there and doing your thing.
Haley: Thank you very much. I’m super excited, I have a great team.
Jon: Are you watching Idol this season?
Haley: Yeah, when I get the chance. I had more time when it started but It’s been pretty exciting to see our faces flash in the intro and stuff. Whenever I watch, It brings back feelings and memories from when I was on.
Jon: Totally! You get Déjà vu. Is there anyone you’ve been impressed by?
Haley: Definitely Jessica Sanchez. She is incredible. Her voice is undeniably amazing, especially for being only 16.
Jon: Agreed! I want her to win. Enough about her though… your album ‘Listen Up‘ is days away from being released; You must be thrilled.
Haley: I’m super excited, I can’t believe its finally coming out.
Jon: Yeah, we’ve been waiting. I’ve gotten the chance to hear it already and I absolutely love it. You co-wrote almost every track?
Haley: Yes! I co-wrote every track on the album other than the first single “Free.”
Jon: That’s pretty huge. Was it important for you to be heavily involved?
Haley: Yeah, completely. We decided to wait until after the Idols tour finished because I wanted to be there every step of the way. Everything from the writing, to the mixing, to the album packaging, I was involved. I wanted to make my vision come true.
Jon: Makes sense to me! And are you happy with the outcome?
Haley: Yeah! I’m extremely happy. It was really fast. As much as it seems like it was a really long time ago since Idol but I wouldn’t have been happy if I did the album while we were touring. I wanted to be in that creative mind set and make things happen the way I wanted to. Even though we rolled through the whole thing in three months, It all makes sense and it is everything I could’ve hoped for.
Jon: Good and I agree. I feel like you really stayed true to yourself and were able to make this retro sound but with a contemporary twist. It’s very much a Haley Reinhart album.
Haley: Thank you! That means a lot. Idol was a great way to find out who I was as an artist and I’ve always had all these influences from the past. I definitely wanted to mix those influences in the music while still keeping it contemporary. It was a goal of mine.
Jon: Well I think you achieved it. The album is also very personal. I’m sure not every song is from your own personal experience; but were most of them?
Haley: Yes and no. I definitely know how to look at it through another person’s perspective. I can put myself in certain situations and I’ve felt all these things at some point. It wasn’t a whole bunch of things I was feeling at once. I love storytelling so that’s how I took it on and it was pretty easy.
Jon: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s what makes a good songwriter. It may not be your situation but it was somebody’s and you could relate.
Jon: Now I wanted to talk about three songs specifically from the album that really stood out to me. You can just comment on what that song means to you and how they came about.
Oh My (Featuring B.o.B.): I’m really excited for people to hear it. I knew we had something great when we were working on it. It was a short song when we finished it so we got B.o.B to add his own verse on it and he did an amazing job. He added a slickness to it and the song itself has a great sound that I absolutely love. It’s the suavy, sexy song on the album.
Undone: I don’t do too many ballads and definitely not power ballads like this one so it was very different for me. People really seem to be connecting to it though, I’ve been getting a great response. I didn’t really know how I felt about it at first but seeing how people are reacting to it and how easily they’re relating to it is a beautiful thing.
Wonderland: With Wonderland I wanted to take people to a different place. It’s a dreamy love song about that journey when you feel butterflies in your stomach. When it goes into that part where I’m talking to the girls, it’s kind of like an anthem for them. Like a ‘I found this true love of mine,’ you guys can too type of thing.
Jon: Those three are really my favorites so it’s great to hear your perspective on how they came about. Do you have a second single already lined up?
Haley: I’m not really allowed to say but I originally thought “Oh My” would be the first song out, so you never know. That might be an option. Nothing is set in stone yet.
Jon: Gotcha! Fair enough. Now I’ve got some fan questions that were sent in via Twitter. You have a very loyal fanbase.
Haley: I know! They’re a little crazy but I love them.
Jon: First one. Do you have a favorite Idol moment?
Haley: There are tons that I could say but I’m going to say the one that touched my heart the most was when I got my dad to play live with me on stage. It really meant a lot to me and my whole family. He taught me everything.
Jon: Aww, I remember that one actually. Good choice! What song on the album means the most to you?
Haley: That’s hard… all of them! [Laughs] Every song means a lot to me for a different reason. There’s no one above the rest but I can say “Walking On Heaven” is pretty important. There is a lot about love on the album but “Walking On Heaven” is about how easily is to hate and not see the beauty in life. My dad also plays on it so it’s just one of those songs I really love.
Jon: That’s great! I thought that song was the perfect ending to the standard edition to the album. It really rounds everything together.
Haley: Yeah, I think so too.
Jon: This question came up a lot. Do you plan on releasing the album overseas or anywhere else?
Haley: I would really really hope so. It’s definitely going to happen, I just don’t know when. We will probably get different tracks on those releases as well so I would really hope so. I love to travel so It would be great to get it out there.
Jon: You have a lot of fans from around the world so that would be great. I’m sure they will be happy to hear the news
Haley: Yeah, I would love it.
Jon: Alright well I didn’t want to take up too much of your time. I’m really excited for the album to come out and for people to hear it because it’s really great.
Haley: I appreciate that, thank you. I hope people agree.
Jon: I usually am! Promise!
Haley: [Laughs] Perfect! Thank you again. Have a great day Jon.