Idol Alum Doesn’t Have to “Fight For Love” From Us!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 11:27

An Interview with Elliott Yamin

by: Casey Pukl

From the moment Elliot Yamin set foot in his American Idol audition, it was clear that he was on a mission. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for a shot like this,” he grinned in his pre-audition interview. Five years, two holiday records, and three full length solo albums later, Yamin has taken full advantage of his opportunity— and along the way, treated countless audiences to his soulful rendition of Donny Hathaway’s, “Song For You.” But there’s more to Yamin that his Idol experience. Not only has he co-written and co-produced his latest release, extensively toured Japan, and impressed audiences across the globe, but he’s also helped raise money for diabetes research. Yamin is as charming as he sounds, and I got the chance to ask him some of my (and my mother’s) burning questions. Turns out he also has a great sense of humor to boot!

Elliott Yamin

CP: I know your latest release was an album called Gather ‘Round that was exclusively released in Japan. Tell me about the record. Will we ever see it stateside?

EY: Yeah, we put the record out in February of this year over there because that’s where we had a firm licensing deal. It’s really a soulful, really classic album. I’m really proud of it. It was the first album where I co-wrote and co-produced almost every track on it, and it really just clicked. I think we made a pretty timeless record. We’re looking to get it out here in the US in 2012. Right now I think we’re looking at a single in January and then the full album in March.

CP: Sounds great! Any other releases coming up in Japan?

EY: You know, there actually is one there slated for March. I know this is going to sound a little overzealous, but it’s actually going to be a “Best of” record coming out over there. I’m not super crazy about that given that I’ve only got three records out, but they were into it, so I’m just going with it.

CP: I guess you can actually say you’re big in Japan.

EY: (Laughs) Right! Who sang that song? [Alphaville!] I guess you could say that. Music is the universal language, so it’s cool to see where it catches on. Fortunately for me, Japan has been a really great market. Thank God for Japan, you know?

CP: Absolutely. What or who inspires and influences your music?

EY: I actually get inspired pretty easily. I guess I’d have to say that my first inspiration was my mom. She was a singer, and was really my earliest influence. She always played great music in our house, Stevie (Wonder), Otis Redding, Paul Anka, Donnie Hathaway. She played all of those records. Donnie Hathaway, that’s a huge influence for me. I guess overall though, I really draw my inspiration from other people. You know, I don’t really write songs on my own, I mostly co-write. That’s the best part about co-writing. You get to be inspired by the writers you work with and what has happened in their lives.

[This is the part where I have absolutely zero clue what I asked Elliott because we just started chatting, but he said one of the most heartfelt things about his music, and I had to include it!]

EY: There’s no right or wrong way to write. I always try to be as honest as possible, and not just with the lyrics, but with the emotion and feel of the music. That’s something I really had to learn. It’s one thing to sing a song well, but it’s a whole other thing to convey what you’re actually saying. That was a big thing I had to learn, especially from the show.

CP: Since you brought it up, I’m going to go there. I know some past American Idol contestants have considered the show to be their albatross, and they can’t escape being that guy from Idol. What are your feelings on the show?

EY: You know, I really see two sides. I know some people are striving to be something different after the show, and I get that, but I’m really grateful for the show. I mean look, you and I wouldn’t be talking today if not for that show. I do feel like I’ve grown leaps and bounds since I’ve done the show, and I’ve found my voice, but I’m totally fine with being synonymous with Idol. I feel immense gratitude and really feel indebted to them. You know, I never signed with their management or anything, but they’ve still been so supportive of everything I’ve ever done. They’ve opened so many doors for me that I never thought would be possible both in and outside of music.

CP: Speaking of things you’ve been up to outside of music, I know you do some work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Tell me a little bit about that.

EY: That has been really amazing, and it’s again, something that never would’ve been possible without Idol. When you do the show, they put you through media training, and you learn how to talk to the press. I just made a conscious decision to use those skills and talk about diabetes. It’s something that runs in my family. My mom has it, my grandmother has it, and let’s face it, diabetes sucks! I really wanted to use my experience on the show as a platform to talk about my struggles with diabetes and lend a voice to it. It’s important to me. I’m invested in it. The experience has been amazing. If you had told me before the show that I’d be speaking at congress or going to Capitol Hill to lobby for medical bills to fund diabetes research, I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s been an amazing experience, and I love dedicating my time to finding a cure.

CP: Sounds like you’ve had a lot on your plate.

EY: Yeah, but it’s been great. You can’t ask for more.

CP: Tell me a little about what our audience can look forward to at your show.

EY: It’s going to be fun. Expect tons of energy, and really great musicianship. This band is tight. There will also be a good deal of new music involved, so it should be really fun. Come vibe with us!

Don’t miss Elliott Yamin on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 here at Anthology! Also be sure to check out our Spotify playlist of some of our favorite tunes of his. Consider it the Anthology version of the “Best of” album!

Elliott Yamin

WHAT: Elliott Yamin
WHEN: Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $10-$32 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile