Sawyer Fredericks On Life After ‘The Voice’, Music Influences & His Hat: Idolator Interview
After a season of performing covers on prime time television, The Voice Season 8 winner Sawyer Fredericks is trying to separate himself from his reality show fame. If past winners of NBC’s ratings juggernaut are any indication, this is no easy task. The 16-year-old singer/songwriter is already busy writing and recording his own music, though, including the four-track, self-titled EP he released last week, and a full album slated for Spring 2016.
We spoke with the “Take It All” singer during his trip to Los Angeles last week, during which he premiered the single at his former Voice stomping grounds. Read on to see what Sawyer Fredericks had to say about working with Pharrell, his new EP and the whereabouts of his always-present bowler hat.
How was it returning to The Voice? Is it different than when you were competing?
SAWYER FREDERICKS: It was great. It was really nice seeing everyone again, and seeing everybody that’s behind the scenes. Basically, I spent the first hour hugging tons of people. It was really great seeing Pharrell again and performing on the stage. There’s nothing like it. When I was on the show, I didn’t really think of it as a competitive thing, so I don’t really think it was too different — besides the fact that I was able to sing one of my own songs.
You always seemed so Zen and relaxed when you were on the show? How did you keep a relaxed mind set in that high-pressure situation?
SF: I really wasn’t worrying about going home or moving forward. I was just thinking about it as a performance, and enjoying the moment.
Tell us a little bit about working with Pharrell.
SF: It was great working with Pharrell. What you see on TV, he’s actually that in person. It’s really cool. He’s just really chill. It’s very nice working with him just because he’s very calming, and makes you feel very comfortable. The biggest things that he was always telling me is to just stay true to yourself, don’t let anyone change you, and enjoy the music.
How was returning to your hometown after winning The Voice?
SF: It was really nice being home for a while and getting back to the farm. I was doing a lot of performances when I was home, and also getting to see a lot of my supporters back home. I did a show in New York City with [Season 8 contestant] Mia Zanotti at the Mercury Lounge, so that was really fun.
Being on The Voice is a tremendous opportunity to get in front of a lot of eyeballs, but it seems to be a difficult transition to a music career after the show. How do you approach that, and how do you break away from The Voice platform?
SF: I think that’s a little difficult. The label [Republic Records] is actually trying to do that right now. I did all of the writing for the album, and once they heard the album they wanted to really introduce me as a new artist, not just as The Voice winner. They want to get my music out immediately, so that’s why they’re splitting the two releases up with an EP out now, and the album coming out in early Spring.
You wrote all of the songs on the album. Did you write them all after The Voice, or have some been in the works for longer?
SF: Both. “Still Here” I wrote when I was pretty young. I was probably 15 when I wrote that.
You’ve worked with Pharrell; you’ve had a song penned by Ray LaMontagne; and you’ve performed with John Fogerty. Who are some of your other musical influences?
SF: I have a lot of musical influences, and listen to a very, very wide range, including Ray LaMontagne, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Langhorne Slim and Florence and the Machine. I also get some more musical influences from my family, which is more like Rishloo and Tool. Lately I’ve been listening to adult jazz, and also the band Puscifer. I’m excited to hear their new album.
Are there some people you’d most like to collaborate with in the future?
SF: Probably Ray LaMontagne. That’s just because I love him as an artist. I’m not positive our voices would go well together, and I don’t really know him in person, but I love his music.
How do you stay connected with your fans?
SF: I’m on Twitter a lot, and I’m on Facebook and Instagram, so that’s how they can actually talk to me. They can all get my music, and they can also feel a lot of the emotion I put into it. That’s part of me. They’re able to connect to that. I’ll also be touring, and right now have shows planned in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia in December.
Last thing: I’m surprised to see you without your bowler hat on. Where is it?
SF: [laughs and points to the guitar case in the corner] It’s right over there, don’t worry.
Sawyer’s self-titled EP was released last week. Grab it on iTunes here.