One of my guiding principles in life has always been to avoid reality television like the plague, but something felt different about Will Champlin. Something told me that the Season 5 finalist of NBC’s “The Voice” had the potential to transcend the medium and actually create something worthy of public attention.
After all, his father Bill is a Grammy-winning songwriter who spent 28 years as a member of Chicago and lent his sleek vocal shine to hits such as “Hard Habit to Break” and “Look Away,” so, naturally, the pedigree carries with it a certain expectation of pop excellence.
What stood out most during our conversation was how much he appeared to know exactly what type of artist he wants to be. He’s intent on forging his own path and the sounds in his head are more akin to Alex Clare or Imagine Dragons than anything his father ever became involved with.
Whether that shift is a sign of the times or an extension of his true personality remains to be seen, but the ongoing emergence out from under his father’s shadow promises to be compelling either way. Just listen to his latest single, “Eye of the Pyramid,” and you’ll hear a track whose thematic ambitions are amplified by a Benzedrine beat destined to propel the song into the stratosphere of 2014 club bangers.
Question: How did being on the show prepare you for what kind of artist you wanted to be?
Champlin: Well, it allowed me to put things into perspective and prioritize a little more. While I wasn’t performing original music, I was still able to rearrange the cover songs to fit my own style and get my sound out to the world. Plus, being on the show gave me confidence as an artist when putting my own material together, because I performed “Eye of the Pyramid” on the show and it ended up doing really well on iTunes.
Question: What did you learn from Adam Levine that you believe helped to accelerate your progression?
Champlin: We clicked right off the bat. We share a musical character that made communication effortless on a song by song basis. His input helped me take my own ambitions to the next level, so I’m forever thankful for the experience I had in working with him.
Question: Who were some of your influences growing up?
Champlin: I’m a junkie for sounds, so I loved everything from Bob Dylan to Stevie Wonder. Early on, I also loved a lot of R&B and soul as well as classic rock. I enjoy Bad Company and Simon and Garfunkel just as much as fun. and Mumford and Sons. Anything that’s weird and eclectic, really. Amos Lee is one of my favorite singers of all time.
Question: How did your recent single, “Eye of the Pyramid,” come about?
Champlin: I loved the track from the moment I performed it on the show. My collaborators and I were putting together beats and tracks in the studio when I decided I wanted something that sounded like a spaceship. It’s liberating and rewarding to see your own ideas coming to fruition. Blurring the lines between rock music and dubstep was something that intrigued me, so the messiness of the track translated really well.
Question: What type of music will you be performing during The Voice’s upcoming tour?
Champlin: I’ll probably do two or three originals alongside favorites from the show. Each contestant had their own style and comfort zone, so it should be a healthy balance of everything viewers of the show want to hear.
Question: Do you have any plans for a full-length album?
Champlin: I’m almost done with one featuring “Last Man Standing.” I have 10 songs finished, so it should be out sometime this year.
Question: What advice would you give to someone hoping to break into the industry through either a competition or their own means?
Champlin: I think people need to dig deep and discover what their inner voice really sounds like. Whether they’re making music on an acoustic guitar or a laptop, they need to speak their mind as a songwriter without holding back. Being yourself is the most important element for me, because, if you’re trying to be something you’re not, the audience will pick up on that. My favorite moments from the show came when I surprised myself with some of the notes I was able to hit, so I urge every aspiring artist to never be afraid of a challenge.
You can hear Will and other fan favorites when The Voice Tour comes to the Seneca Niagara Events Center on July 11.
Tickets start at $50. See www.ticketmaster.com for details.