Congratulations on The Four and on this video. It's safe to say you're having a "moment."
Thank you so much. Yeah, it's all coming together.
Can you talk me through your decision to film this music video in a church?
I went to Catholic school all of my life, and sexuality isn't talked about at all. It's a no-no kind of zone, and for me, this was an expression of being able to celebrate all different kinds of love that are not accepted in the confines of the church. Like, in this video we have people that are transgender, gay, straight, lesbian, and it's such an eclectic mix of different races of people just pouring out love for each other. I'm just saying that the relationship that is love has no cost to it. It has no binds or confines.
As someone who also went to Catholic school, I can relate.
I mean like ... it was awful for me. Like, what's a sex ed class? Never heard of it.
Are you still particularly religious?
I am, I was raised Baptist, but I went to Catholic school because I had a scholarship to get there. I am a religious person, but I'm not a big, like, Church, Bible-beating kind of person. I believe that there's a God up there, and he loves us, and that's pretty much my extent to it.
What was your aim with the song itself?
What I'm trying to convey is a relationship between two people, and how deep that relationship goes. Like, I could love you past everything else. Like, I love you despite your faults, despite everything else, and I feel you even when we're not in the same room. Like, you could be across town, and I love you so much that you're in my bone marrow, you're just there, you're in my marrow. We're pretty much the same.
On The Four, you talked about how your dad was a gospel singer when you were growing up. Was he a big figure in cultivating your voice?
My dad was. It was sort of a side influence, because I was watching from afar and I was so amazed by the harmonies, and the dissonance in those voices and the things that they did together. He was in a gospel group, and so watching that and growing up listening to all of that was just so amazing to me that human beings can make that sound. I wanted to be able to do it, too. I was like, "I wanna do that, I wanna be cool and making weird sounds out of my mouth, too!"
Other than your dad, who would you say were your main musical inspirations?
I'm a big David Bowie fan. I'm a huge, huge Jessie J fan. You know, Robyn. I'm just a pop boy. I've been obsessed with pop music forever. My whole life, I wasn't into rap or into the usual things that kids my age were more into, I was the kid dancing in the back of the class to Madonna.
Ooh, do you have a favorite Madonna song?
You've worked with other pop artists like Betty Who and Scott Hoying from Pentatonix and Superfruit. What was that like?
It's been amazing working with these people, because they are some of my best friends. I went to Berkeley with Betty, and we have been best friends since '09. We've known each other for years. And I met Scott and Mitch (Grassi) out here, and they are the cutest and sweetest boys ever, and we just happened to be doing music, and we both happened to be musicians. I was able to reach out to them, and it was like, "Hey, would you do a show with me?" Collaborating with them was just so great. And it's even better because Betty's such an LGBT supporter, and then you have these two boys who are so outspoken about who they are, and it's in their music, and it's wonderful to be able to have that in the spotlight and to be a part of that.
That "Dancing On My Own" cover that you did with Betty was so good. Those harmonies were so right.
We are freaking obsessed with Robyn.
It's a sickness, and I don't want to get over it.
So let's talk for a second about The Four — what was it like getting on the show, and then suddenly beating out Jason Warrior and making it to the finals, all in the same episode?
Getting on the show was a really chaotic time. Like, they make you go through, like, seven different rounds of challenges. That day, only two of us got to be seen by the judges. It really is this crazy, cutthroat kind of competition. But once I was up there, I wasn't really scared. I love to perform, it's what I do, so I just let it all go. But it has been one of the wildest things I've ever done.
Why do you think that you were able to stay so calm? Did it have anything to do with the fact that you knew Meghan Trainor?
I mean, that might have been part of it. But honestly, I've been singing since I was five. It is what makes me happy, it is what I love to do, so in situations like that, I don't get so nervous. I just do what I love.
Any chance you can tease what we can expect from the finale?
You can expect to see me very different from how you first saw me. Like ... ah, I don't know! I don't want to give anything away!
It's all good. Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Yes. I just want to get the message across that I wanna bring back the vocals of pop. I want to bring back real singing and heart and, like, movement and soul, as opposed to, like ... hooky things. I want the voice to come back to pop music. And I mean, like, the cool beats are great and everything, but I want to bring back that Whitney shit, that Mariah Carey shit, where it's like, "This is a tight-ass song, but also that bitch can sing." I want people to be able to move and feel something, and I feel like that's lacking these days.