INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL MCCARTHY, PHOTOS BY KIMBERLY METZ
Last week I profiled the lovely April Kae, a charismatic rising star who can apparently do anything that she sets her mind to, having already successfully tackled pop, dance and R&B with her first three singles, “The Writings on the Wall,” “Runnin’ (Let Me Go Away),” and “Love Bomb” respectively. While her songs seemed primed for top 40, none of them were the sort of radio-friendly bubblegum pop that quickly loses its flavor. On the contrary, they were sophisticated and mature, not unlike the work of, say, Kelly Clarkson or Mariah Carey. And that’s another thing — April clearly has a powerful voice, exhibiting great range and control, which should also set her apart from much of the competition. Listening to these well-crafted songs, I was naturally curious about the young woman behind the remarkable voice and was delighted when she agreed to do an interview.
You took vocal lessons and studied classical piano as a child. Were your parents musicians?
I actually do not come from a musical background. My parents are both actuaries (a.k.a. brilliant mathematicians who deal with a lot of statistics and things that I don’t understand). My family enjoys music, but I am the only singer as far back as I can trace.
How did you come to compete on American Idol? Did you hear about auditions and decide you wanted to try out or did you have friends or family encouraging you to do it?
I was reluctant to compete on American Idol, because I know how many thousands of people audition and I thought my chances of ever being seen by the producers was very small. My family encouraged me to try, and after three attempts I finally made it to the on-screen judges panel.
What’s the auditioning process for American Idol like? We only see the people try out in front of the official judges who do the show – are other judges behind the scenes that you have to go through in order to make it to auditioning before Randy Jackson and company?
I had to go through four auditions before I was able to go up in front of the celebrity judges. They start out with a huge group (enough to fill AT&T Park in San Francisco) and then they keep narrowing it down. It was a couple of months between my first audition and my audition in front of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler.
What was the process of making your first single, “The Writings on the Wall,” like? Did you sit down with a co-writer and write the song before you went into the studio or was it written in the studio or by somebody else? Just wondering what the process of creating it was like…
“The Writings on the Wall” was written by Scott Kreitzer and John Pahmer. When I started working with Bob, he sent me a few tracks that he thought would be good for my voice. As soon as I heard “Writings” I fell in love with it. I was very fortunate to be able to record the song in the famous Capital Studios, in the same studio where some of my favorite artists (like Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney) performed.
“Runnin’ (Let Me Go Away)” was produced by Grammy Award winner Bob Brockman. How did you come to work with him? Were you intimidated to be working with Grammy winner?
I was introduced to Bob by my mentor Paulette McWilliams. I was intimidated to work with Bob at first, because of his impressive resume, but I quickly got over that because Bob is one of the coolest, most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet! I really enjoyed working with him, and everyone who collaborated on that project.
How do you usually – or prefer to – approach songwriting? Do you start with the lyrics or the music?
I actually like to do both, depending on how I am feeling. Usually if I am writing myself I will start with the lyrics, and then come up with chords. I also love collaborating with producers who send me a track that I can then write to.
You’ve tackled pop, dance and R&B with your three singles. Will you continue to explore different genres or have you decided to stick with one of those? If you were making an album and it had to be one of those three genres, which would you go with?
I love showing my different dimensions as an artist, and it was fun for me to explore different genres. My soul really lies with R&B, which has inspired me from a very young age. My album will definitely have more R&B influences. That being said, I love to try new things and surprise people, so my sound will never stay exactly the same.
Have you ever done any modeling or acting? If so, tell us about it. If not, would you ever?
When I was younger I did a lot of acting. I actually was accepted into both Fordham and Pace’s acting programs in New York when I got out of high school, but at the last minute I decided to stay on the West Coast and pursue my music career here. But I love acting, and I definitely want to continue to make that a part of my life. I would love to eventually split my time between my music career and my acting career.
Are there any causes you feel passionately about or charities that you support?
I am very passionate about animal rights, and have worked with the ASPCA and other animal rights organizations. My dream is to open my own animal rescue.
Do you have any pets? If so, tell us about them.
I have LOTS of pets. I have three dogs: Leroy- a blue pit bull, Penny- a miniature poodle, and Lady (who I’m fostering)- another blue pit bull. Both Penny and Lady are rescues that we found in dire circumstances. We were able to clean them up and give them a good home, which is the most rewarding thing I have done. I also have two grey American Saddlebreds, Silver (who I’ve had since I was 10 years old) and Spirit.
Thank you for your time. ‘Tis much appreciated. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
Hahah Thanks so much this was fun.
“THE WRITINGS ON THE WALL” VIDEO: