hot Magazine, Issue 161, November 2010
The other side of David
The American Idol star hopes his latest album will show fans more of what he’s really like
By Sophia Goh
With American Idol alumni fast becoming as forgettable as they are many, it can be difficult to leave a lasting impression. David Archuleta is one of the rare few from recent seasons to have stood the test of time. In the fickle and fast-changing world of pop culture, that means the girls remember him, and more importantly, still love him. Oh, how they love him.
When we speak to David, the 19-year-old is in Singapore and has just released his latest album, The Other Side of Down. It’s been a good couple of years since his run on American Idol Season 7 – in which he finished runner-up to “that other David”, David Cook – but the Utah native still comes across as the same slightly awkward, very endearing singer that television audiences fell in love with in 2008.
We tell him that, and he laughs. “Oh, yeah? I think I have changed. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve gained a lot of experiences that have helped me grow. I think I understand better what it is that I want to do, what I want to accomplish in life. Not step-by-step, I’m still trying to figure out, okay where am I exactly supposed to go? But I’ve decided more in terms of what kind of attitude I’m going to have whatever happens.
“Whatever happens, I kind of have an idea, well, this is how I’m going to handle it. What kind of people I want to surround myself with, and what is it I want to do with my music. I know I want to make people feel good. I just want to be positive with my music. Let people feel better, and leave a good impression on people.” Is it just us, or is the little boy next door becoming all grown up?
You’ve probably noticed by now that you have a huge fan base in Asia.
Yeah. [Laughs] The fans have been so great. I love coming here. I want to visit more. Like, go to Malaysia and Indonesia and stuff. Hopefully, next time.
Have you gotten used to girls screaming wherever you go?
Um, not really. Sometimes it’s like, whoa. But, I don’t know, it’s just not normal to have people screaming at you, you know. Usually when people start screaming it means something’s wrong. If you had people screaming at you, it’s just natural instinct, you’d think, ‘Oh no, what’s wrong?’
You don’t just have young girls screaming at you. You also have mums and grandmas and aunties…
[Laughs] Yeah, I guess so. It’s funny because I never thought that would happen. Even if I got to do music, I never thought people would scream when they saw me. I thought that if people liked your music, you do a show, people would come and watch, you’d sing, and when the show’s over and you’re done, people would go, ‘Oh, that’s nice. That was a good show and I liked his songs.’ And then they’d just go, you know, back their own ways. If they saw me, maybe they’d go, ‘Hey, I like your music, by the way,’ and I’d say thanks. I didn’t think that it’d be like, ‘Aaaaaaaaah!’ It’s like, what did I do to make people scream? I don’t know.
Well, congratulations on your new album.
How was recording different this time round?
The difference is I definitely got a lot more time to just be able to say what I got to say in the album. I got to put a lot more effort into that. And I had a lot more time to figure out what I wanted to say, you know, the lyrics in the songs. To show more of who David is, how he looks at life, I’m a dork, I’m kind of goofy, I’m kind of weird and awkward. If people were to follow me around for a week, that’s what they would see. So I wanted to show that in the music. Some of the songs are kind of quirky and goofy, but they still have meaning behind them.
Do you think this is a better representation of the direction you want to take your music compared to your first album?
I’m always experimenting. I think music is kind of what it is, just experimenting. But I feel that with the words and lyrics and stuff, [this is] definitely more me. That’s the direction I want to go. With the music, I’ll try a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Even though most of it is still a feel good, quirky pop vibe, but I’m kind of ready to experiment even more and see what kind of sounds you can use in a song, and what kind of vibes you want to give off to people. I’m looking forward to that.
Personally, was there anything significant about this album?
Well, it’s called The Other Side of Down, and it’s about looking at things a different way. I wanted people to feel good when they listened to these songs. I wanted them to just be positive, you know. It’s like, okay, whatever they’re going through, even though it’s tough and there are challenges in life, I just wanted people to know, hey, life is good and there’s so much to look forward to. The future can be scary but at the same time it’s exciting, all the opportunities are out there in the future, there are so many ways it can go, and a lot of that is based on the attitude that you have. So I just wanted to help people feel good and say, hey, I can do this. I can keep moving forward and I can just grow and learn from some of these experiences that life throws.
Did you draw on any personal experiences for these songs?
Yeah. A lot of the songs are from experiences I’ve gone through, or things I’ve observed or just thought about. Almost all the songs are based on my own experiences or things I’ve wondered about or thought to myself when I’m alone. A lot of these songs are about that. One of the songs, ‘My Kind of Perfect’, which is the last song on the album, is about… Well, a lot of people ask me, ‘What do you look for in a girl?’ I’ve never been in a relationship but I wonder what she’s going to be like. How will I know when I meet her? I wonder about that stuff. The song talks about how I keep searching and waiting. It’s about being patient for my kind of perfect.
So you’re not in a relationship now?
No, I’m not.
Are you hoping to be in one soon?
I don’t know. I feel like the right time will be when I meet the right person, I guess. There’s a lot going on that I’m trying to focus on right now. And I think what’s important right now to do is just to be aware and pay attention to what it is I’m looking for. Like, I like this and this in a girl so by the time I do see her I’ll know that I’ve found the right person.
So what are you looking for?
Um, I think love is a surprise. It’s something you don’t expect, necessarily. If you listen to the song, you’ll know. I feel that so many people think, ‘Oh, when I see the girl that has blonde hair and is five foot three and has green eyes…’ It doesn’t matter whether she’s blonde or brunette or anything like that. It’s really the things that will last longer than that. Fifty years from now she’s not going to have blonde hair anymore, she’s going to have white hair. So what are the things that will last the longest, that will make the love the best it can be? I feel it’s the attitude she has towards life, the values that she keeps, and her care for other people. Those are the kinds of things that I think will really stand out and whoever this person is… [Laughs]
Well, collaborations are really popular in the industry right now. Do you have any plans to do one?
I don’t have any plans right now, but I think it would be kind of fun.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
I love Natasha Bedingfield; I think it would be cool to get her. I also like (Australian singer) Sia; I think she’s really cool. She sings ‘Breathe Me’ and then she sings another song called ‘Clap Your Hands’ which I really like. She’s so good.
What do you think about Simon Cowell leaving American Idol and the show going through a bit of a revamp?
I know people are like, ‘My gosh, Simon’s going.’ But he’s not going away, he’s going to do The X Factor, which will be fun to see. I think it will be cool to see what it will be like with the new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, because they’re both musicians themselves, they’ve both had a lot of experiences, and they’ve both worked really hard to accomplish what they’ve accomplished.
Do you have any plans to go back on the show?
I don’t know yet. I usually find out shortly before I end up going on. So we’ll have to see.
How about becoming a mentor? Do you see yourself in that role?
I think it would be kind of fun to be a mentor. But I don’t know, I feel like they could get better people. If there was someone I could just help out or encourage, it would be cool.