Lee DeWyze is one busy dude. Since winning season nine of American Idol he has toured the United States with his fellow Idols, and has written and recorded his new album Live It Up. He is now gearing up for the release of his album on November 16.
Earlier this week, DeWyze was nice enough to talk with me over the phone about his upcoming album. During the first part of our conversation we talked about the recording process, songwriting and the various collaborators he worked with, and his lead single, “Sweet Serendipity.”
You started recording Live It Up this summer while on the tour with American Idol. What was the recording process like while you were on the road and how much of the album did you complete? And what was the recording process like after you completed the tour?
The recording process was pretty amazing actually. On the tour, I’m trying to focus on that, but I’m also trying to write an album and recording it all. For me, it was a very different process, trying to write an album while being on tour and doing other things while you’re doing it. But, it was great. Working with the people I worked with was great. I had a huge hand in the writing process. Being on 10 of the 11 songs writing-wise was a huge accomplishment, and I really have the label and the people around me to thank for allowing me to do that. That’s who I am as an artist. The fact that I got to accomplish that goal of mine was really awesome.
After the tour was over, I really put in 100 percent. I enjoyed the whole process. And always, there’s ups and downs of it, you run into tiny walls, you get through them and keep going.
So, you wrote on the majority of the album, 10 out of the 11 tracks?
Yeah 10 out of the 11, I worked with various writers. I worked with amazing people. Toby Gad, Dave Hodges, Claude Kelly, Lindy Robbins, John Shanks, Zac Maloy, Espionage, David Glass, I mean the list goes on. Just great people that I got to work with. They helped make the album what it is too, I have them to thank for that.
Okay, so when you are working on a song, what comes first, the lyrics, the melody, or a little bit of both?
I like to start with music sometimes, once I get the beat in place, I can start to write about it. Melodies are important. I always kind of pride myself on my melodies. For me, it was a little bit of everything.
How many songs did you initially start with before narrowing it down to the 11 that are on Live It Up?
We had quite a few. There are definitely going to be some songs that are offered out there separately from the album. I’m really, really proud of what I have done. All the ones that didn’t make the album, it’s not that they weren’t good songs, it was just that we knew the right songs to go on this first album. I’m happy with the single, I’m happy with title of the album, I’m happy with the whole thing.
Very awesome, you sound really excited. How did you decide on what to title the album, and were there any other possible titles for the album that you had in mind?
I ran a couple different titles through my head, you know Live It Up is definitely kind of the theme of the album. I felt that each one of these songs really had a little meaning [tying to the album title]. It’s a cool little album. I love it. It speaks a lot about me, everything in life, relationships, love, a loss, you know different things that everyone goes through in their life.
Alright, let’s talk about your first single, “Sweet Serendipity.” You were planning to originally release the title track of the album and the night before your single was going to debut on the radio, you switched it to “Sweet Serendipity.” What was behind the change of heart about what song to lead off your album with?
Truthfully, I’m sitting there looking at the whole album, there were a lot of songs that I could’ve picked for the single. They’re all really strong songs. I think “Sweet Serendipity” is the right song for the right time. We put it out there, and it’s a great song. I’m really proud of it.
I like the song and it’s really catchy. It’s a lot more pop than I was expecting.
That’s the thing that I like. There’s everything from pop to rock to broken down acoustic. That’s kind of why I like the album so much. There’s different variety on there, and that’s what I’m about.
How would you describe the overall vibe of the album?
I would call it a reflective album. I would definitely say that there’s something for everybody, regardless of what emotion you’re going through, there’s something on there for you. I just wanted it to be fun. When you come to a live show, I want you to dance and have a good time. I want you to be into the music, it’s really what it’s all about.
As our conversation continued, DeWyze spoke about putting his band together, shooting the music video for “Sweet Serendipity,” and how he’s feeling about finally getting his music out to the public. SPOILER ALERT: He’s really excited.
Switching gears just a little, your band has been put together now. Did you had a hand in the selection process for picking the guys for the band?
Oh yeah, absolutely.
How have the rehearsals been going?
Rehearsals are amazing. I got great guys with me. They’re all in the same age group as me and they’re all excited to being doing something like this. I felt like I’ve been given so many opportunities, and they we looking for an opportunity as well. They wanted to go out on tour and all that stuff. They’re all really good musicians. Jon, my bass player, Chris, my guitar player, R.J., my drummer, and Lincoln’s my keys. I want to be able to play a song, and once it’s over start jamming out for fun. They all get it, I get it. We’re having a good time.
How was it shooting the performances last week for Walmart’s Soundcheck?
That was a great time. That was the first time we actually performed live, which was really cool, because I love live performances. I think it’s going to turn out really well.
Sounds fun! You guys shot the video for “Sweet Serendipity” this weekend. Where was the shoot at, and how what was it like to shoot your first music video?
We shot it all in different parts of LA. It was awesome. I was going into it thinking it would be more difficult than it was. When it’s your own stuff you’re working on, it’s easier to get into it and have a good time with it, and that’s what I did. I think the video is going to come out really well. I guess you could call it very natural. I’m just really excited for the video to get out there. It was really fun to shoot.
Are you able to tell me anything about the concept of the video at all, or do we have to wait for the release?
Yeah, let’s wait for the release. There’s definitely a storyline to it. It was really fun. It’s a good video. I think that anyone that likes music videos will appreciate it. It’s definitely got a really, really, really cool feel to it. Like I said, going into it, I didn’t think it was going to be as easy or as fun as it was. But, I gotta tell you, it was a really, really good time. It was exactly what I wanted it to be as far as the shooting goes. I worked with Matt Stawski on it. He’s a really cool dude.
Very cool. So, Live It Up is out in almost two weeks, how are you feeling about everyone and your fans getting to hear what you’ve been working on since winning Idol?
[Pauses] You just made my stomach drop for a minute when you said that. I cannot wait for that album to come out, I’ve never been more excited about anything in my life. I think the fans are going to enjoy it, I’ll say that much. I think they’re really going to like it. It really is me through and through. When the album comes out, it’s going to be really, really good just for me mentally to have it out there.
What are you hoping that your fans take from this first album?
I hope that each fan that listens to it, I hope they really get something out of it. Whether it be an emotional thing, or a mental thing, whatever it is, I just hope that they really take something away from it.
There’s a lot of story to the album, and there’s a lot of things being talked about. Like I said things that everyone experiences, love, loss, relationships, just different things. Hopefully my song is someone’s break-up song, or their first dance song, or they get married to it. That’s really the goal of my music, to get people connected to me through my music, and connect with it on some level.
Have you received any advice from previous Idol winners about what to expect after your album comes out?
Yeah, I’ve talked to several people. Everyone’s different, every winner or non-winner just kind of does their own thing. And I’m gonna do the same, I’m gonna do my own thing. I’m always rooting for all of them too. There’s only a couple people that know what that process is like and it’s a pretty intense and crazy one. I’m just happy to be making music and doing what I love to do. I plan on doing it for a long time.
How would you sum up the last few months of the life and the process you’ve been going through?
If I could use a word to sum it up, I would say it’s very unpredictable. You never know what’s next, you just got to roll with everything that you got. You never know what to expect.
I don’t like to have really any expectations for myself. I have goals that I want to reach, but you can never plan what’s going to happen next. All you can do is try to make the right decisions musically and career-wise and hope for the best. I’ve got good people around me, I’ve got goals in mind and things I want to accomplish. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that.
While DeWyze was finishing up recording Live It Up, he was also making appearances at a couple different charity events, as well as taking part in the new promos for American Idol. We talked about how he feels about doing charity work, and how it felt to go back home to Mount Prospect, Illinois to shoot the promos for season 10 of Idol.
You’ve made appearances at a couple different charity events recently. How does it feel to be able to use your name now to help raise awareness and money for these causes?
Doing charity work is always cool. It’s always a good thing. We did some things for Feeding America, which was great. I hope to do more with them at some point. That’s a really good cause. Breast cancer is another big issue. It’s an important thing for people to be aware of it and get checked out. One of the best and rewarding parts is being able to help people out. It’s a great feeling.
I just caught the first couple promos for season 10 of Idol over the weekend. What was it like to go back home to shoot those?
It was really fun. Especially knowing that all the other Idols are doing it, it was cool. Anything that gives me a chance to go home is always fun. Being able to see my fans, my friends, and my family supporting me, and to go back and be apart of that whole thing was really cool.
Before wrapping up the interview. DeWyze talked about his fans and how important they were in the process of making his album happen.
You have been great with your fans via Twitter with letting them know what’s going on with you while you were wrapping up the recording process of Live It Up. How important has it been to stay in contact with them?
It’s really important to me, with things like Twitter and Facebook it’s easier to keep in contact with your fans and let them know what you’re doing. I think it’s always important. You know we weren’t always able to do that, it hasn’t always been like that, and right now you can. It’s cool for them, cause then they feel that they’re apart of it, and they really are. This album, it’s not just for me, it’s for them as well. They had a big part in me making this album, you know they’re an inspiration to me. Their support has really made things a lot easier.
Live It Up, the debut album from Lee DeWyze is due out November 16. His single, “Sweet Serendipity” is available now.
For more information on Lee DeWyze, check out his official website.