Hot off the presses: Archuleta interviews

No place like home for Archuleta

By Linda East Brady (Standard-Examiner staff)

Nothing says Christmas like coming home. That’s where David Archuleta hopes he’ll be this year — where his heart is, in Murray, Utah.

“In this business, if you get a little time off here and there, many people will stay out where they are working and just relax,” said Archuleta, who is currently in Los Angeles. “But I say if I have time off, even if it is just a few days, I try to get home.

“I am not sure where I will be at Christmas. The tour schedule goes until right before Christmas, and the fact is, there isn’t really just one place I live right now. But I still call Utah home, and try to spend as much time as I can there.”

At the very least, Archuleta will make it home during Thanksgiving week. He plays two shows at Abravanel Hall, on Tuesday and Wednesday. He has played the venue before, once at an event for Sen, Orrin Hatch, and once, this past summer, for a pops concert.

“It was so neat, because I got to sing with an orchestra and choir. That was amazing, because so many people are involved in something like that, in making the song come to life.”

Going places

Ogden producer and DK Studio proprietor Derek Keith has worked with Archuleta since he was 11. He most recently helped get demo and backing tracks ready for this Christmas album and tour.

Keith built a studio for the Archuletas in their Murray house, where they recorded the recent holiday backing tracks and also the demos for shopping Archuleta to labels post-“American Idol.”

Keith met the family by happenstance when he sold dad, Jeff Archuleta, a sound card on eBay and came to help them install the hardware. David was then 11, not yet having had his first brush with national fame on “Star Search.”

“But his voice was already ridiculous,” said Keith. “Maybe even more amazing than it is now, because of the surprise factor. I remember that first day Jeff had him sing me a Christina Aguilera song and I was like, ‘What? Man, this kid will go places.’ And he has, of course. I remember how terribly shy David was back then. And there is still some of that in him, but he has come a long, long way.”

Dean Kaelin, a renowned vocal coach who works out of Salt Lake City, started with Archuleta about the same time as when Keith encountered him. Kaelin not only works with singers on their performance chops, but also on technical issues. He said Archuleta already had a lot of innate style, but he was struggling with a paralyzed vocal chord when he first arrived, likely weakened from a viral infection.

“We started working together when he was going to do ‘Star Search,’ ” said Kaelin. “The vocal chord paralysis has resolved itself for the most part, but it is interesting. I think that is why that David still has a sort a special quality to his voice, that teeny bit of breathiness. It is to his credit that it is not a handicap for him. He worked through it and it gives his voice a sweet, slightly airy quality that appeals to listeners.”

Christmas time

Archuleta said he chose to do a Christmas outing for his sophomore effort simply because he loves the season and the sounds associated with it.

“I could definitely have gone more fun, more mainstream, more radio-friendly and all that, but that is not what I felt I wanted to do with this album,” said Archuleta. “The songs I am singing have a real reverence in them. I felt like I needed to really portray that. Give that to people — what Christmas means to me, the bigger picture. It was a way of giving back, for so much has been given to me in my life.”

Said Kaelin: “We worked together again after his recent summer tour. The pop stuff is demanding on his voice. He has to be careful because when he is doing those tours with the screaming people, he naturally tends to push heavy and loud.

“But this Christmas album demanded some very technical work — ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘O Holy Night’ — things he really had to sing out,” added Kaelin. “But I think his voice is sounding strong, and the Christmas program itself should be kind of nice — a gentler and prettier concert than the pop shows.”

Most of the songs on the album are classics of the holiday, but Archuleta did pen a new number. It’s called “The Melodies of Christmas,” and the song addresses what such music means to him.

“That song talks about the memories that Christmas songs seem to bring back,” he said. “This is the holiday that brings back the most memories. … Like, I remember sitting around the Christmas tree, singing those songs with family. I try to capture that mood.”

Discovering writing

There is no doubt that, though still in his teens, Archuleta has been able to tap into a world-class gift for interpretation. But lately, he has traveled far and wide to be mentored on crafting songs himself.

“For me, I am just beginning to write, but it is so much fun — I love it,” Archuleta said, “As a singer, it is your job to get the message across for the songwriter. But as a songwriter, you are able to tell your own story.

“Sometimes it is like journal writing, but out in the open. Some things I am like, ‘I can’t wait to share this.’ Other things are like, ‘Wow. Yikes! I am not sure I can share this with people.’ “

Archuleta was spending time in Los Angeles, and previously in New York, to work on his next project with several experienced songwriters.

“That is the best way to learn it, to see how other people do things. I’ve found that everyone has their own way of doing things. You really learn a lot — and then figure out what works for you.”

The major lesson learned? Not being afraid to take risks, said Archuleta.

“I had to get where I was not afraid to look dumb,” he said, “That is the biggest thing, not thinking, ‘I don’t want to throw that out there, because someone else might think it is just dumb.’ You have to get over that. It’s been a great thing for me personally.”


Archuleta still calls Utah home

By Scott Iwasaki, Deseret News

He may hardly ever visit, but singer David Archuleta still calls Murray home.

“I’m not there a whole lot, but I try to go there as much as I can,” Archuleta said during a phone call from New York, where he is filming a TV special for Univision. It will air Dec. 10.

“If I’m in Los Angeles and I have a little break, instead of spending time off in L.A., I just go home for a bit. I’d rather spend it there.”

Although Archuleta will tour for most of the holiday season, he will perform at Abravanel Hall next week.

He’s excited to be performing in a smaller venue than the 10,000-plus-seats venues where he sang this past summer.

“It been a lot of fun getting to do arenas during the summer, but I love intimate settings,” he said. “It feels more real, because the people are right there and they’re not like two miles away.

“You feel less pressure at having to put on a big show for them.”

The “American Idol” seventh-season runner-up said he can be more himself in a smaller venue.

“The smaller it is, the more comfortable it is,” he said. “The more laid back the vibe, to kind of have that more close feel.”

His concert in Utah will primarily be Christmas-themed.

“It will mainly be a Christmas show because it’s Christmastime,” he said. “But I’ll add some non-Christmas songs into the mix, because everyone is familiar with (the hit) ‘Crush.’

“I want to see if I can change things up a little bit.”

Some of the Christmas songs will be on his new Christmas CD, “Christmas From the Heart,” which was released last month.

The songs include “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Ave Maria,” which were produced and arranged by Kurt Bestor. Bestor also produced “Pat-a-pan” with John Hancock.

Archuleta also worked with Sam Cardon and Richard Parkinson on “What Child Is This,” “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night.”

Other Utah talents who are featured on the CD include guitarists Rich Dixon and Michael Dowdle, harpist Lisa Rytting and vocalists Jenny Frogley and David Osmond.

“It was so fun to be able to have Utah people (on the album),” he said. “We have so much talent in Utah. So why not use them?”

Archuleta, who turns 19 in December, said he hasn’t been able to rehearse for the concerts as much as he would like because he has been so busy.

The day before he filmed the TV special in New York, he was in Washington, D.C., taping “Kaleidoscope,” a skating special that will air on FOX Thanksgiving day.

“It’s been crazy but a lot of fun,” he said.

Archuleta said there really isn’t any way to prepare for the demands of being an in-demand celebrity. That includes the busy schedules and the impact his fame has on his personal life.

“You just take whatever (life) throws at you, and you just learn how to deal with it, even when you don’t think you can,” he said. “It’s about pushing yourself and pushing past what you think are your limits.

“It’s about doing that and figuring out what you can do. That’s how you grow, pushing beyond what you think are your limits.”

  • WHO: David Archuleta
  • WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
  • WHERE: Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City.
  • TICKETS: $28-$38, available from ArtTix, (888) 451-ARTS
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23 Responses to Hot off the presses: Archuleta interviews

  1. TOfan says:

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    And now for something completely different:


  2. awestruck says:

    Cool TOfan, I was just going to reference one of these interviews.

    A comment from the interview caught my eye. “Keith (Ogden producer and DK Studio proprietor Derek Keith) built a studio for the Archuletas in their Murray house, where they recorded the recent holiday backing tracks and also the demos for shopping Archuleta to labels post-“American Idol.”

    I just assumed that David agreed to sign with Jive right away. From this comment I get the sense that he looked around before signing with Jive. Does anyone remember when the official date was that he made it official with Jive. I wonder who else the sent demos too? Curiosity killed the cat, I know.

    Love the bits of insight: more of David on his Christmas album (didn’t go more mainstream/radio friendly with it) – “That’s how you grow, pushing beyond what you think are your limits.” – Overcoming his fears (taking risks and being not afraid of looking dumb)… all together in two articles.

  3. awestruck says:

    Might want to add this TOfan:
    Salt Lake City Tribune article by David Burger

  4. awestruck says:

    Wha wha ??? “possibly even show off some of his newfound guitar-playing skills. ” is the last sentence of the SLC Tribune article.

  5. TOfan says:

    Thanks, awestruck! Wow, great press from the hometown media!

    I think it’s great that David’s learning the guitar and, while I admire his courage — and sheer gutsiness — to even think of playing in concert at this point, part of me wishes he’d wait until he was truly proficient … *ducks tomatoes, and other over-ripe fruits & veggies*

    David’s true instrument is his Voice … that’s more than enough for me.

    I mean, did anyone ever care if Pavarotti picked up a violin or Sinatra sat down at the drums?

    *ducks again*

  6. djafan says:

    Hi all…

    He is being asked mature and pertinent questions in all of the latest interviews. He expresses himself the best when he is allowed to share his gift David’s way, which I adore. He’s smart, witty, and full of visions of what he wants to do. And for some miraculous reason Jive seems to be giving him free reign with his next album. Do they finally get it? Maybe….

    TOfan….I don’t know why but ever since the ALTNOY video with David and the guitar I’ve thought he may know how to play it and the if he does …. well I’ll be carrying smelling salts just in case.…lol

  7. awestruck says:

    I hear what you’re saying TOfan re the guitar – I think that with the piano too sometimes. BUT, how do you get proficient if you don’t actually do it? It seems to me that David probably does much practicing, however I don’t think that he actually gets the hang of it totally unless he performs live, imo.

    Yup djafan – more mature questions means they are taking him seriously and he responds and

    “expresses himself the best when he is allowed to share his gift David’s way, which I adore. He’s smart, witty, and full of visions of what he wants to do.”

    Re Jive – his next CD will tell that tale. It will be very interesting to see how many of his own songs make it on this time.

  8. munkmusic says:

    Just popping in to say….maybe he will play a simple guitar with Silent Night….. I do agree that the only way he is going to feel comfortable playing is by doing it. And why not in front of people that love him. He is a perfectionist. He has probably known how to play but not good enough in his eyes. I would love to here him play! David is learning a lot about himself as a person and a musician. He is coming into his own and it is exciting to be a part of this journey. I can’t wait to hear is new songs!

  9. TOfan says:

    awestruck, djafan & munkmusic, I hear what you’re saying about David playing the guitar (or the piano, for that matter).

    In fact, looking back at my comment, I have to laugh at myself … I realize it says more about my vision of him as an artist than David’s. I compare him to Pavarotti, Sinatra, Fitzgerald – vocalists first and foremost – because his gifts rival theirs, imo.

    But his musical role models are singer/songwriters – from Joni Mitchell and John Mayer to Jason Mraz and Sara Bareilles. So it makes perfect sense that he’d want to follow in their footsteps and play piano and guitar while singing songs he’s written.

    He’s really breaking new ground … I can’t think of a single singer/songwriter who could “sing the phonebook” as brilliantly as he can, or with a Voice as incredible as his … can you guys?

    [And stenocruiser, are you in St. Catharines, by chance?]

  10. TOfan says:

    Hang onto your hats Ann Arborites (hmm, sounds like a countertop) … direct from AnnieDAFG’s Twitter:

    “Hey guys, just got information from the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director. The instantencore setlist is not accurate.

    “Please sit before continuing reading this message. The setlist includes (among others): Zero G, A 1000 Miles, Crush, TBWY… and *dies*… … and… *still dying* Fields Of Gold. *dead* GAAAAAH

    “Ann Arbor show will include a performance of Fields Of Gold according to the Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director. *dead, dead, dead* It is not posted anywhere. I asked for confirmation for setlist & the Exec. Director replied to me and gave me this info.”

    [Ed. Note: Not clear, however, if Fields of Gold is to be sung or instrumental.]

    And also:
    “More info: interesting enough setlist includes Christmas songs which are not on David’s album. Not sure if these will be only instrumental.”

    “More info to come, give me a second, my internet just crashed. lol”

    “I know some pieces are strictly classical instrumental Christmas pieces. But setlist also includes the song “Sleigh Ride” which can be both.”

  11. awestruck says:

    countertop LOLOLOL

  12. awestruck says:

    I can see David attempting guitar on Fields of Gold

  13. stenocruiser says:

    TOfan — No, not St. Catharines, I am actually in Hamilton. This Ann Arbor thing is very difficult — my name is Anne with an “e” so I find it awkward typing Ann with no “e” and Arbor with no “u”. That’s okay though, I’m going there anyway! lol. Love the set list, whatever it turns out to be.

  14. awestruck says:

    Oh Ann with an “e”, what a joy to be Canadian – no “u” It likely won’t matter anyway, you’ll have a brain dead episode after the concert! But please share once you come too.

  15. TOfan says:

    David playing a simple guitar with Silent Night would be very powerful … and the thought of Fields of Gold, awestruck, gah, too much! First song I ever heard Eva Cassidy do… smelling salts might be a good idea, dja!

    stenocruiser, Hamilton, right (not sure why I thought St. C.) — hope to meet you in “Anne Arbour” LOL

    (I’ve updated messages on the Christmas Tour page, btw.)

    there’s an interesting FOD interview with Kristin from the iloveallaccess VIPs at (starrynites/Monica used some fan questions for the interview).

  16. SandyBeaches says:

    The unfortunate thing about apres the concerts is that the “brain dead” feelings last sometimes for a week and one is not much good at talking, working, writing, thinking…so one must be prepared for all of the…somehow!!


  17. KT says:

    Dear Mr. YouTube:

    I OWN you!

    You think codec is going to trip me up? Seriously?!

    You think that lossy-MPEG-4-Part2 compression is going to stop me in my tracks? Pulheze!

    Think I can’t find away around your dislike for m2ts files?! Think again!

    Back away from the computer…KT…

    Back away from the computer…

  18. KT says:

    Oh…by the way… a clean version of Silent Night is up and The First Noel will be up in 5 minutes.

    David is stunning.

    Kizzi, thanks for your post on the last thread and sorry to keep you waiting!

  19. Kizzi says:

    KT’s The First Noel – Warning: thud worthy to the nth degree

  20. Kizzi says:

    KT – finally this ginorma 1.1G video file uploaded to your YouTube account.

    The video is sharp, clear, gorgeous. The audio is InCrEdIbLe!!! What a VOICE! Chills!!! The eyes closed, the eye brows raising, his surrender to the song, the hand movements at the end, the gentle, tender humming…BRILLIANT!

    THANK YOU KT for this gem of a video! And, thank you for all the work to get it to YouTube.


  21. awestruck says:

    LOL KT LOL I see your comupter survived. What gorgeous videos, sharp pic an to die for sound. Thanks for all your efforts in getting them downloaded or uploaded or whatever to youtube!

  22. KT says:

    Kizzi, thanks so much for your comments and I am really glad that you are enjoying the vids. All you really do is point and click and David takes it from there. YT was a challenge but looking on the bright side, I got a real education for the next time!

    Awestruck, thanks…I’m glad you saw my humor and have concern for my computer. I am happy you are enjoying the vids as well.

  23. TOfan says:

    New thread …

    KT’s story is up!!!

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