Somewhere between stealing the show on the American Idol tour and spending hours in the studio, season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis — who recently signed with 19 Recordings/Arista Records — had the time to phone EW for a quick chat about his in-the-works album, tentatively titled ADD (Audio Day Dream). Lewis describes the disc, which is set to drop in late fall, as ”my Michael Jackson Bad album,” with each pop track featuring a completely different sound. And then, of course, there’s that whole beat-boxing thing, to tie it all together. Read on for deets about his beats.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So where are you with the album? Are you currently in the planning and writing stages, or are you in already the studio?
BLAKE LEWIS: All of the above. I’ve been writing and recording. Every day I have off [from the tour], I’m in the studio somewhere. By the time the tour ends Sept. 23, I’m going back to Seattle, and the producers I’ve been working with are going to come out to Seattle. We’re gonna start recording.
What kind of album are you going to create?
The album is going to be called ADD (Audio Day Dream). I like to call it the two-thousand-’80s, because all my musical influences have come from the ’80s, like new wave, Michael Jackson, Prince, Sting, U2, New Order — all this great electro-pop. I’m heavily influenced by electronic music because I’ve been listening to it from about ’93 to now.
How much beat-boxing can we expect?
It’ll have a hip-hop overtone…. Beat-boxing will be throughout the whole album, as kind of a journey. When you start the album and you finish it, it’ll be like an electronic or hip-hop mixtape. I call it my Michael Jackson Bad album, in the sense that every track on that album is pop music but every single track is totally different than the next. He has his ”Dirty Diana” and then he has his ”Smooth Criminal,” you know. The album’s organic, but very mechanic at the same time — that’s where the Audio Day Dream comes in.
Are you looking at collaborating with anyone on any of the tracks?
Yeah, I would love to. Me and Doug E. Fresh are gonna try to work on something. I really want to do a total freestyle track — just beat-boxing with MCs. I’m trying to get Chali 2na [of Jurassic 5], Mos Def, and my boy RA Scion from Common Market.
Do you have singles done now?
I’ve got a lot of tracks with rough mixes done. I feel that I have two singles already, maybe three. I definitely know which ones I want to come out first, but it’s all up to the powers that be. I’ve been working on music for a long time — I’d already started writing all this music a while ago.
NEXT PAGE: Blake on filming a documentary DVD, writing with Chris Richardson — and why he’s skipping a Bon Jovi reprise
EW Video Flashback: See Blake Lewis’ visit to EW.com’s Idolatry after the American Idol season 6 finale:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Any response or feedback so far from the label?
BLAKE LEWIS: Every single idea that I have for this project, the company is in love with. I’m also making a documentary. We’ve been filming every single time I’m in the studio. We’re making a DVD that should be released with the album as well — kind of a journey through American Idol to the making of this album. It’s going to be great for the fans to pick up a copy of this album and see what I’ve been doing for such a long time.
Are you writing with your pal and fellow Idol finalist Chris Richardson?
Me and Chris Rich actually wrote this song, and in the studio it was just magic. It was probably one of the most magical days in the studio, where I recorded some guitar in Canada with Tim, our guitarist from the tour. I flew that night to L.A., woke up, got some talk-box on the track, and it’s just banging.
Is Chris getting a co-writing credit on that?
Yeah, he’s a brilliant songwriter. He might have a couple on Jordin’s and his solo album. So, yeah, him and I have spent 24 hours a day together since Hollywood week. Our melodic sensibilities are totally different, but they mesh really well together. He and I are definitely writing, like, every other day together. My stuff is more on the jazzy side, and his stuff is more on the pop, I guess, urban [side]. The mixture of both of those is really paying off. So him and I may have the first single.
Any of the songs you performed on Idol going to be on your album, like ”You Give Love a Bad Name”?
Definitely not. I don’t like singing covers unless I get to make them mine. That was already made for American Idol, and that’s cool. [But] I’d rather have all completely originals, unless it was some very avant-garde cover that no one knows, or something that you can bring alive and make it your own. I had fun with ”You Give Love a Bad Name” because, in a performance aspect, I was thinking: This is going to be really good. I had fun doing it.
How have you been managing to do all this while on tour?
I don’t get sleep anyway. That’s the only thing I could ever hope for: getting some decent sleep. [But] you know, man, me…I take nothing for granted, and I live it to the fullest. I could die tomorrow. I don’t want to waste any time. I’ve always let things come to me, and I always put myself out in the universe positively, so I’m just taking this moment and running with it and hopefully I’ll get to shore soon.