Women in Music 2019

Q&A with 'American Idol' Winner Nick Fradiani: 'This Is Beyond Words'

Frank Micelotta / FOX
Ryan Seacrest and "American Idol" Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani 

Another American Idol has been crowned! On Wednesday night’s finale, Nick Fradiani was named the official Season 14 winner. And now that the excitement has sunk in, the Connecticut native is ready to get to work.

“They can get me up whenever they want, work me as long as they want. This is what I’ve always wanted. And to have this happen is crazy!” he exclaimed backstage after the show. Fradiani also filled reporters in on his plans to hopefully take his Beach Avenue bandmates on his post Idol journey with him and admitted that he’d jump at the chance to duet with Taylor Swift.  

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Check out Fradiani’s full backstage interview below: 

Billboard: How do you feel?
Ah man. It’s how to put into words how you feel. My brain is just a cloud right now. It’s the best day of my life. I never once thought that this was going to happen. I kind of was just up there trying my best and to be here, it’s really incredible. It’s crazy.

What was the best part of the Idol experience?
I think the best part was probably seeing growth in myself as a musician and as a performer. I don’t think I was ever pegged as a frontrunner or anything like that. A lot of people probably think, “Oh he’s the oldest contestant. You’re not going to see any growth. You’re going to get what you get.” But I learned a lot from the show. It took me out of my comfort zone and what happened towards the end was really cool for me to see, so I think that was my favorite thing to see.

Scott Borchetta says he’s going to put you to work. Are you ready?
Absolutely man. I’ve been grinding at music for over a decade now. Since I was 18, I decided that this is what I wanted to do. It’s not an easy thing. When you start getting 25, 26, people are like, “Oh you’re a musician huh? That’s what you’re gonna do? When are you going to get a real job?” I never gave up. I really just felt that I could do this. I really did. But yeah, I’m ready to work. They can get me up whenever they want, work me as long as they want. This is what I’ve always wanted. And to have this happen is crazy.

Did music always feel like a real job? And does it feel like a real job now?
No. It still doesn’t. I feel like I’m the luckiest person right now. I feel like I don’t know how this is happening to me. I never envisioned anything like this. My whole life I just wanted to make a career in music, whatever that meant -- whether it was a songwriter… I wanted to be able to support myself only playing music and never (thought) anything like this. This is beyond words. It’s crazy.

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How do you see your life looking forward?
I guess I see what I’ve always wanted to see, which is playing music. It’s what I love to do. It’s really all I’m good at. It’s what I was born to do. Being on the show was... hard for me. I wasn’t used to playing cover songs. I’ve written my own, I’ve had a lot of albums out with my band. I was used to connecting to my own songs that I wrote. It took me a while to get used to playing other people’s music and getting used to the cameras. “Sing to the red dot?” I was used to just jamming out with people. In the beginning you could look at me and I was trying to find the cameras.

At what point did it click that you could win American Idol?
I think when I went to Top 3 I said, “Wow. I guess you have a legitimate shot.” I was really unhappy with myself from about Top 12 down to 8. I was not liking what I was doing as a performer. I would go back and think, “That is not you.” My bandmates would call me and be like, “What are you doing man? You look so uptight up there. You don’t look like yourself.” I came to this realization that I was treating it like a competition. I was worried about other people. I was worried about, “Can I sing like this person? No I can’t hit that note that he’s doing. I can’t do what she’s doing.” And finally, it was actually the “Teenage Dream” performance, Katy Perry. It wasn’t the best vocal that I did but for some reason I just broke loose and my friends called me “Alright. That looked like you. Now go do your thing, man.” I started to wake up. So that’s when I felt like I was moving in the right direction.

Tell us about the confetti moment with your dad.
He was crying pretty hard. I was surprised by it. Everybody was crying. I saw them having this big group hug and I was like, “I gotta get in there” so I just ran down the stairs and got involved in it.

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So obviously you have to get with Big Machine and Scott and develop where you are going to go as an artist. But if they make you more of a solo artist, are you still going to make time for the band? Will that always at least be a side project for you?
Without my band…Beach Avenue is the only reason that I’m here. Without them I’m not here. I live with them. They are my roommates. They are my best friends and they are as talented as can be. So regardless of what happens, I know that I will be putting out an album as myself but I’ll always know a band. And I think Scott knows the connection that I have with my drummer and my guitar player. So I’m hoping that they’ll be able to come along with the journey. They’re ready for it. Talent wise they’re there. They can play. When I’m with them, I’m so much more comfortable. When I went home and to the parade and got to play, we hadn’t played in like 6 months and it just felt like home. We killed it. It was so much fun. I’m really hoping that they can come along on this ride.

Keith Urban has said he’s a fan of yours and you’ve always said that you’ve really admired him…
It was funny. Yesterday he was doing his rehearsal and I snuck in. I snuck through and they had some of the stand-ins on stage. I knew all the words to his new single and he saw me out there. I think it stunned him because I was just jamming out with him. I’ve been a legitimate fan of Keith Urban’s for a long time and have been to a bunch of his concerts. It was cool. At first, he wasn’t always behind me as a judge. Well not that he wasn’t behind me. I think he saw something and he thought I could do more. He kept saying, “Man you don’t look comfortable up there…” and towards the end when he'd say that, I think he was happy to see it. He’s a great dude. We can’t talk to them much outside of the show. What you see on the show is the amount of time we have with them. I’m happy to be able to talk with him because he’s a crazy good musician.

What is the biggest thing that you gained from the whole Idol experience?
There are so many things I could take from this. That’s what you try to do when you get here. You’re around the best of everything. Everybody is the best at what they do and you have to just be like a sponge. I’ve tried to just absorb everything that’s been thrown at me. It’s pretty crazy. You get everybody telling you different things. I’ve tried to take a little bit of everything and it’s really helped me. I’ve gained a ton of knowledge about the industry, about music in general, about performing. I’ll never be the same musician now. They up your game here for sure.

Will Scott ever let you duet with Taylor Swift?
I hope so! That would be pretty awesome. That would be incredible. Keep saying that to him. 


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