Singer Haley Reinhart got her big break on Fox’s talent series American Idol, and despite not taking home the Idol crown, Haley is still on her way to stardom.
The bubbly singer released her new video “Free” and is readying her debut album Listen Up!
Inspired by her R&B and classic rock roots, Haley proclaims Listen Up! to be a big collection of personal stories.
Haley stopped by the GlobalGrind offices to talk about her forthcoming album Listen Up!, her days on American Idol, and collaborating with Atlanta rapper B.o.B.
Check out our exclusive interview with Haley below!
GlobalGrind: What’s your inspiration behind your new album Listen Up! and new single “Free?”
Haley Reinhart: With “Free” I loved the sound, the vibe, and the retro and modern feel of it. The story is an empowering break-up song, and I like the maturity of it. That was great! The rest of the album I co-wrote everything else. I’ve been waiting to get stuff down. I’ve been writing forever, and very much a speed dating process as far as producers and co-writers go. I wrote about thirty songs in about two and a half months. There are elements of Soul, Retro, and other things like hints of Rock, Jazz, Funk, and Pop undertones. I had fun with it. I wanted to have a lot of substance to tell stories and take listeners somewhere.
How will the album sound different from what you were doing on American Idol?
For the most part I did covers that I liked and put my own spin on, put the sultry flavor into it and added freshness to it as well. That part of me, those roots of Motown, some of those songs that I did, I’m taking that with me. It’s just now I’m able to tell my own stories and make the kind of groove I want. Most of the music is mid-tempo, so you could just feel it, and move along to it.
Your album is called Listen Up! What do you want everybody to hear and take away from your album when it drops in May?
I want them to be able to look at it as a big collection that has continuity. It’s a different sound. I want them to realize the raw musicianship of it. I want people to get lost in the melodies and be able to relate to all the lyrics because it’s all really relatable topics.
How was it being on American Idol? Would you change anything?
It was fantastic! I wouldn’t want to change anything. I don’t really have regrets because it got me to where I am.
You mentioned a little bit of Motown and how you’re soulful, who are some of your musical inspirations?
I grew up with a lot of old school Motown and R&B stuff, as well as Classic Rock. It’s always been a huge influence of mines with The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. The whole ’60s/’70s era is so important to me. I kind of felt like I was born in the wrong time, but there’s a reason for it. I have to tell myself “I’m here to bring the good stuff back…,” and create new more modern spins on it for myself.
Do you have any collaborations or features on this new album?
I actually have B.o.B on a track. It’s really hot!
How was it working with him?
I didn’t work one-on-one with him.
It was more like the new age send you the track, and you send it back to me?
Yeah, it was, let’s see who’s best for the track kind of thing. I was looking at different people. They were like “Who would you like?” I’m talking about Andre 3000! I needed somebody so cool and smooth for this record because it’s really cool. It has this old swampy vibe to it. It’s very James Bond; just a really cool feel. B.o.B got on it, and he sounds awesome on it. It fits really well.
You’re also appearing on 90210?
How exciting is that?
It’s cool! I just filmed that not too long ago, and it was fun. I love acting.
Has music and acting gone hand-in-hand for you, or is acting something you’re testing out?
I got into acting really young. I did a lot of theater, improv throughout all of high school. Acting, I’m very much into it. Singing is number one, so I’d be great to establish that first, which is what I think I’m doing. Slipping through the cracks, and doing things like this, appearances, working my way up, I love too!
If I sent you to a deserted island, and you could bring only three albums, which three albums would you bring?
It has to be a Beatles album, so let’s just say, Rubber Soul. That’s awesome! I love Corinne Bailey Rae. I could go with her Like A Star, and maybe some Stevie Wonder, Songs In The Key Of Life. Something to take me away.
Who are some of your favorite artists that you personally like to listen to right now?
Currently? I’m trying to keep up with the new stuff coming out, but I also like the really classy artists like Corinne Bailey Rae and Esperanza Spalding — I just brought one of her CD’s today — Janelle Monae!
If you could collaborate with anybody of your choice, who would it be?
Anyone of those ladies I mentioned would be awesome. Esperanza, I come from a line of Jazz, so I think it would be incredible to do something like that, and she plays upright bass. I could only imagine how cool that’d be. She signed on Concord with Casey, another contestant. We’re kind of close.
What is your favorite thing to do besides making music?
If I were back at home, I’d literally say jumping from groups of friends to groups of friends. I love being all over the place with different people, filling up my schedule with friends. I’m living in L.A. I’m not in Chicago anymore, so if I get time off I just like to literally go down by the pool and soak up some sun. It just releases endorphins, gives me some peace and tranquility. I’m not in that bad of a spot either, so it’s nice looking up at some Palm trees.
Do you ever get nervous before you go out on stage, or is it something that you’re always eager to do?
It’s both. I always have this adrenaline running through my veins, but I think for the most part, artists have to feel that, and it’s not something we’re afraid of. Otherwise, we couldn’t do it every night. Actually for me, I can get more nervous in front of 10 people than 10,000.
What does music mean to you?
It’s a way of living, which I’ve done forever. My parents—blood, sweat, and tears—music is their life. They’re still playing together 40 years later. I’ve grown up in a house of music. Even my relatives—my mom has five other sisters—they all can sing. It’s an outlet. It’s powerful in so many ways. It can make me cry on so many different levels. Hearing a new artist who’s just got it, that tears me up. I love that. I live for that stuff.