Exclusive Interview: American Idol’s Blake Lewis
Why Does He Still Perform Nationwide At Gay Pride Fests?!
You may be familiar with our next exclusive interview. Blake Lewis, 36, was the Runner-Up of American Idol season 6 – way back in 2007 … that’s like, before the internet was even invented! I’ve recently witnessed the rebooted disaster of Idol and hoped I could speak to someone who was there when the pot was hot! I’m talking about old school, back when America cared who their Idol was. Long gone are the zany days of our judges, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and the painfully entertaining, Simon Cowell. But, thanks to social media – many of our former favorite contestants are easy to find. Obviously, you want to speak with the hottest one: Which brought me down to about three guys. Upon some more snooping, I remembered Lewis has often performed at Gay Pride celebrations across the nation. He’s making an appearance for Chicago’s Gay Pride Fest on June 16th and 17th alongside Frenchie Davis, Mya, and Belinda Carlisle.
Lewis, who has been living in Los Angeles for the last eight years after transferring from Seattle, Washington – was lovely during our conversation regarding depression post-Idol, the flip side of the music industry, and his love for the LGBTQ community. You’ve got to check out my exciting interview with him below:
Mickey Keating: What’s a typical day in your life? Are you living the Rockstar lifestyle of partying and smoking pot constantly?
Blake Lewis: “I don’t smoke weed. I used to when I was 18-years-old, but it’s not for me. When I was in my depression in 2008, I was drinking two bottles of red a night. I write a lot of music. You can see a shift through my albums. As an Artist, if you’re writing honest material; it’s [essentially] a time stamp [of where you are in your life].”
MK: You were incredibly quick to mention battling depression after becoming the runner-up to Jordin Sparks on American Idol. What led to a sudden downfall?
BL: “[The realization of] not having control over my career. I had people in my ear telling me to do things, but they wouldn’t do [what they were supposed to do]. I had bad management. I bought a house with my earnings from Idol. Buying a house, you expect to be there for thirty years (Lewis was 25-years-old at the time). I owed so much in taxes. I was only able to pay for it for a few months after the economy collapsed. I didn’t buy cars and or any luxuries. I just bought a house.”
MK: Does management have a lot to do with the success of a Musician?
BL: “I loved my old management and the people that worked there. But, they should’ve told me things they didn’t. It was a lot of failure. It was a lot of living and learning. My old manager should’ve told me not to move back to Seattle when [the life of a Musician is in Los Angeles.] I realized I couldn’t have a pity party for myself. I just had a great year in 2007 and being on American Idol.”
MK: Do you have management currently?
BL: “I have management now. I have my own record label now, Audio Day Dream, where I’ve put out my own album. My last album was more electronic heavy, but now I’m planning on putting out a remix album in the next several months. I don’t know if my management and I will release my new music together. It’s such an interesting game now for independent artists who have been signed to major record labels. I’ve been around the block a couple of times.”
MK: Can you confirm a few other Idol contestants have had the same experience with poor management?
BL: “Even people who have won are a little bitter about the Idol experience. There’s no infrastructure for after [the show stops taping]. Everyone’s journey is different. But, all of the Idol contestants are connected because of the unique experience you go through. You don’t want that roller coaster to stop. It’s a fun throughout – that’s [the experience] we all can say we share.
MK: Do you still speak with your fellow Idol contestants?
BL: “Yes! My roommate is Elliott Yamin, who placed third on the season before me. I just played in Las Vegas with Effie Passero who was on the latest season. I’ve toured with multiple Idol contestants throughout Mexico. We’re all family.”
MK: You went far during Idol, earning second place. Did you expect to excel before auditioning?
BL: “God, no! I’ve never seen Idol before auditioning. My friend told me to come audition with him and he didn’t even make it to television. I [was strategic]. I was choosing songs everyone likes. I had to convince the Producers to allow me to sing Time of the Season [by the Zombies]. I told the Producers I was doing my own show, The Blake Lewis Show. I told them no, a lot. They want to manipulate you and put on their show. But, after seeing what I was doing: We stopped butting heads and they began agreeing with me. Every show, I wanted to go in there and prove to America they’d love me. They did. I barley talked on the [live] show. I smiled and said thank you a lot.”
Check out Blake Performing Time of the Season below:
MK: Do you still get recognized from Idol?
BL: “All the time. I went on the show to be a Singer, but also wanted to beatbox because I love the art form. [People recognize me more as a beatboxer] There’s World Champion Beatboxers who are kids who have been inspired by me. The Producers [after seeing me beatbox once] then made my beatboxing a gimmick. They wanted me to beatbox every [show]. I only beatboxed three times, but they kept replaying it [repeatedly] to make it look like I always did it. I went on The Ellen Show and taught Ellen DeGeneres, the ladies of The View, and even Michelle Obama how to beatbox.”
MK: You were on Idol when it was extremely popular in the media and turned on in every household. Were you happy you got to experience the show during it’s prime compared to the lackluster reviews of the later seasons and current reboot starring Katy Perry?
BL: “Paula Abdul was a real sweetheart. She visited us more than everyone else. She even gave everyone her number in case we needed to talk post-Idol. Randy Jackson would check in on me months after the show was over. Simon Cowell we hung out with twice: At Idol Gives Back and the finale party. The ratings were at 30 million people a night, now it’s down to 8 million.”
MK: Did you hear Clay Aiken’s comments bashing the rebooted Idol season? He threw contestant Catie Turner under the bus and called the new reboot a “therapy session.”
BL: “I wouldn’t trash anyone who was on the show. It’s Musicians just trying to [get ahead]. So, screw Clay Aiken. That’s just rude. These people are just kids. I’m not relating to Country Singers, but these kids are young. The show has way too many young kids on for me to get invested.
MK: Okay, we have to quickly talk about the many fan sites dedicated to your butt! Do you know people say you have the best butt of any Idol guy?! One of the first things to pop up on Google is ‘Blake Lewis Butt’.
BL: “[Laughing] What!? No! That’s so random. I don’t Google myself. I appreciate it [though], I’ve got a great ass.”
MK: Why do you still perform for the gay community?
BL: “They are some of the best fans in the world. I don’t discriminate against people. I support human rights. I’m a lover and a unifier. The list goes on and on. My performance at Chicago Pride Fest is my first Pride performance in a while. I’m going to be staying in Chicago for a few days to visit family and experience the city.”
MK: Okay, last thing: When are you going to change your Wikipedia photo!? That does not look like you! It’s like your chubby brother…
BL: “[Laughing] I can’t! Who can do please do that? I hate that photograph! Speaking of time, I’m [clearly] depressed in that photograph. I’m bloated, chubby, [groans]. I’ve been through so many people trying to get that changed. I would love for someone to change it. I no longer look like that.”
You heard it, folks. If anyone knows a way to update Lewis’ Wikipedia photo – can we please get a move on with that?! Don’t forget to purchase Lewis’ last album, Portraits of a Chameleon, on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify. After you’re done doing that you need to check out Lewis’ Live concert on YouTube below:
Quotes have been edited for clarity.