Stefano Langone was still going about 198 rpms this morning when he sat still for 30 minutes for a natioinal media conference call. He wound up as No. 7 on this season’s Idol list and that was just fine with him. Here is what he had to say including comments about his original audition at AT&T Park in San Francisco:
Was he surprised when Pia was voted off?
SL: “Me and Pia really had a close bond I was really pulling for her and I know how bad she really wanted it. I had never really wanted to be the American Idol it was getting that foot in the door in music industry. I knew how bad Pia wanted to be THE American Idol. I almost wanted it for her more than me. When everything was said and done it worked out for the best. I’m proud of her. She’s going to do work. It was very shocking. It was a shocking moment for the whole world.”
How music changed his life,
“It’s hard to really show your chops on the show. Casey really got to show his musicianship. One thing that I wanted to save and keep close to myself was my original music and my piano playing. That’s something I wanted to bring out and really show the world, and I think it will be very very special. Music has been everything. I grew up playing instruments. I found out I could sing in band, ironically. It spun off from there. I write so much, I cannot wait to start getting some collaborations down. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from people in the industry. They have a market for me that’s wide open. I’m really excited and I know I will be doing very well after this.”I
Did he think he would survive last night?
“I had been through that process [being in the b3] so many times, I didn’t think like that at all. I was thinking ‘Ok, if I get through, I got to worry about next week, if I don’t I need to be ready to sing my song, keep my composure and really kill it–give it that last great performance’. I got to lucky number 7. It doesn’t really reflect on who I am as a musician or a performer. It’s one thing you’ve got to remember through this process-it’s a show. Now it’s time for me to move forward and become that footprint that I know I could put on this industry. “
On James losing it last night after his elimination…
“James is a little crybaby (laughs) James is my brother, man. We been roomates since we were in Hollywood. I’m going to be his best man at his wedding. I love him dearly, he loves me. He lost it last night. He was a wreck . I told him ‘just stay focused, don’t even worry about me, I’m going to be fine.’”
On being tackled by James after his sing out…
” I was a little caught off guard, but I knew it was James right when he hit me, so it was cool.”
What did he say to James afterward?
“I told him not to worry about me. I did everything I set out to do on this show. Every single thing. It’s going to pay off, and I’m going to do great. I told him to keep on focusing on the show and what you got to do. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. It calmed him down a little bit. We’re brothers for life.”
One thing he took away from the show…
“I came into this knowing exactly who I was , and I stayed true to that this whole time. As far as a musician goes, as far as a performer, I’ve learned so much from Jimmy, I’ve learned so much from the judges, everybody has helped me get to this point. I’m ready to take the next step and use that in the big picture.”
What does he have that will make him successful…
“Everything is timing in this world. Right now there’s a market for what I do. The producers know it. My management knows it. And I know it. It’s cool to get that acknowledgment. The judges came up to me and said the same thing. I’m ready to pounce on it. I didn’t get the opportunity to really show who I was on the show. As far as a musician and as a performer, I wasn’t able to really showcase everything that I had. Partially because I chose to do it that way, and partially because when you’re going up there singing covers for a 1:30, it’s kinda hard to show what you got. I’m going in a different direction than any American Idol really has in doing collaborations with rappers, and getting in the game quick and fast and having that swag that will get me further. I have the resilience and I have the will power and the fight that will get me far in this industry.”
Has he heard from any rappers who are interested in working with him?
“Oh yeah. I’m ready, I’m set. I can’t wait to start working.”
Was he bummed that Casey got to kiss Jlo first?
“No man. That’s cool for Casey. I’m glad. It’s probably the first kiss he’s had in a long time (laughs) so I ain’t mad at him.”
Was it fun to see the eliminated contestants again?
“It was really cool to see everybody come back and get to have that one time when you’re sitting in the green room all about to go on stage one last time together. Everybody is so cool and amazing in their own way. Just to be around that talent and the great passion we all have and that love for the music. Unbelievable.
Did he get to meet Mark Ballas?
“I met Mark Ballas last week on a dress rehearsal. I went out and introduced myself. Really cool guy.”
How grueling was the schedule?
“We were 7 days a week, every day. We’ve never had a day off. That’s the industry, that’s the business. That’s everything we’ve wanted. If you get 4 or 5 hours of sleep, that’s hot, that’s good stuff right there. It’s star school. This is preparing you for what you got to do. It’s really prepared us for what’s to come. It’s so amazing.”
On their daily schedule…
“‘Dreadful day’. When there were a lot of us, the ‘dreadful days’ would be either the days with Jimmy, because we’d all have to rehearsals, we got to meet with him, we got interviews. That’s probably around a 16-17 hour day. Then you also have the Ford shoot videos which is also another 16, 17 , 18 hour days sometimes. It’s a lot of hurry up and wait. You never know when you are going to go on. Mentally, you have to stay awake all day–you never know when you’re going to have to turn it on.”
Who does he think is his fan base?
“When I start doing my music–fans of music. If you really appreciate–it’s hard because I haven’t gone and done my original stuff, I havent’ gotten behind the piano and really shown what I have vocally–I could really get behind the piano and show my voice in a different tone. That John Legend/Stevie Wonder kind of thing. It’s cool, because there’s that Bruno Mars thing that’s going on right now, but there’s not really a high John Legend/Stevie Wonder thing right now, Justin Timberlake kind of feel–noone’s really tapping into that game right now. That’s one thing I’m going to really try to get into and really make a mark.”
Why did he choose the Smokie Norful gospel song in Hollywood?
“I am a spiritual man, at that moment in time, I needed everything. I needed to shine, I needed to let him shine through me with everything that I had. It was a moment where I was really pleading ‘I need him now’. It was a really special moment for me. It was a special moment for the people watching. I got to number 7 and I’m so blessed for that.”
What did he talk to the judges about after his elimination last night?
“Just to have the acknowledgment from them[‘Hey, if you keep on working like you’re working here, and getting better and better, you’re going to do something.’ Having that acknowledgment from them…from the producers and Interscope–knowing that I have the support from people in the industry that actually know the business–that’s something special. Jennifer–we’re really close, I’m really close with Mark. I respect both of them as people and as musicians. They guided me so well through this experience. Randy and Steven–It’s just been great and they’ve really helped me and acknowledged the fact that ‘look, you can do this and go get ’em.'”
What are his plans…
“I am staying in L. A. I’m going to be working, I’m going to be getting all my stuff right. I’m not going to be coming home [to Seattle] for awhile. I’m going to be busting my butt until we have the finale, and I’m really happy that I got this time. I got 5 weeks where I can network, where I can hustle. I have a lot of stuff lined up and I’m really excited. “
Were any of his bubbles burst through the process?
“If you’re going to be in this industry you can’t be ignorant. It’s cutthroat. Knowing that coming in, I don’t think I was surprised or taken back at all. I’m too positive of a person to really get affected by anything like that. Everything that has happened to me, has led me to this moment.”
Did it ever occur to him to play the piano? Especially after the praise Casey got for being a ‘real artist’?
“A lot of my decision making was based on what I want to do after this. A lot of the songs that I picked were songs showing the people who I am going to end up working with after this who I am as a musician, who I am as a singer. I don’t want to be remembered as getting on the piano and having 20 million plus people see me getting on the piano doing a cover. I want people seeing me getting on the piano doing my songs, singing my heartfelt real songs that came from my soul. When I do bring that out, it’s going to be that much more taken in and ‘Wow. That was something really special’. I want to save that moment for myself. There’s so much scrutiny, and so much judgment on what we do. Everything, every song–I didn’t want to have anything to do with that part of my musicianship. I didn’t want to deal with it. You have to remember that it’s a show. When I’m off this show, which I am now, I’m going to really show the world, not just what I can do on American Idol, but what I can do in the music industry–what kind of impact I can make.” (I still don’t understand his attitude on this.)
What did he sing at his cattle call audition in SF? Was he nervous?
“I took a chance, and I wasn’t really nervous or scared. I had a great time and meeting James after that, we both came from San Fran. It was an awesome experience. I never really got nervous until I got on that TV knowing it was live television. That was kind of hard first couple of weeks, but I got in the rhythm, and I started getting used to it.” He sang “I heard it through the grapevine” & “Just the Way You Are.”
Would Jimmy make a good judge?
“Possibly, yeah. Do I think Jimmy would do that? No. That’s not how Jimmy rolls. Jimmy’s the man. He knows what he’s doing in his business. He works with the artists one on one. In my opinion, he’s not the one to get in front of a million people–I’m not saying it’s fake or anything–Jimmy’s real. If you’ve seen the videos–he’ll get on you. I don’t think that’s the best for what the show is looking for.”
What is his music going to be?
“How versatile I am–just because I’m working with rappers–you’ve got John Legend who has worked with Outkast and Kanye. That’s really the soul–that’s where I’m going to go. I have the range of Stevie Wonder, that’s why I threw his name in there. I have that range and I have that soul–especially when I get on the piano that people haven’t seen yet. It’s that John Legend feel. Being able to work with rappers and having the swag to write–I used to do that in Seattle, I used to write choruses and hooks for rappers–I have a lot of stuff in the bag that I haven’t really shown yet. That’s the market that I’m going to hit.”
Does he think that being a judges pick vs being voted in put him behind?
“Possibly it did. But at the same time, it went from 24-13. You can’t really dog yourself for that. That’s the biggest cut ever on the show at that point. It was hard for the American public to really see what you had to make the Top 10 that fast. To get that opportunity? Was unbelievable. I made the best of it. That’s why I got this far.”
Did he feel himself improving and getting better as the competition went on…
“Oh yeah. That was one thing the producers also saw–I suck in everything that the say. I listened and I execute. That’s really my main thing. You have to get better and better and better. That’s one thing I felt like I really did. I didn’t reach that point where I wasn’t going to show anything that I didn’t have. Jimmy knows that I soak up everything that he says. I love the advice. I take everything that they say to me to heart and I work on it.
Any discussions with Interscope about a recording contract?
“Not yet. No.” Is it possible? “Possibly.”
How hard was it when they started harping on his keeping his eyes open?
How hard was it to change? “Very hard. It’s crazy, when I first started singing it was all behind the piano. I never had to worry about keeping my eyes open to sing to somebody, because I was just grooving on my piano and getting in to it. My eyes would always be shut. They didn’t feel like I was in to it–but my eyes are closed because I’m so into the song. I learned that that’s not what connects to the people. That’s what really got to me. I really worked on it. I just started getting it. Now I feel that’s one of my strengths. I can really look into that camera–use my big eyes to get the words across and the feeling across.”
How did he practice?
“It’s just repetition. I’d go to the gym and I would just practice in front of the mirrors. If you go up on that stage thinking about it too much, you’re done. But if you go up there and thinking about it not at all, then you’re going to lose it. You’ve got to have a happy medium in there and know what you got to do to execute before you go on stage.”
How did he feel about his elimination…
“I was completely at peace and at ease. I knew what it was, and it’s not worth stressing out about when you’re up there. It was a perfect time to go out, really. If I’d got through, then I would have really wanted to make it through #5, with the contestants in there-I thought it was a harder task. It was better to go out here than get to 6 and not get to #5. Perfect way to go out, I’m so happy that it was 7 and I’m so happy that I got to get a foot in the door of the music industry.”
Did his DUI arrest cause his Bottom 3 appearances?
“Probably just a coincidence. Everybody goes through struggles in their lives. Everything that happened to me, led me to this point, led me to this moment. There’s no regrets there, and there’s nothing to hide. It is what it is and I did everything that I needed to do. It’s actually not even a DUI. Everything worked out. I’m just so blessed to be here. I’m so happy that everything happened the way it did, because I wouldn’t be sitting here in this beautiful moment on this phone with you guys right now.”
Is there anything he would have done differently?
“I wouldn’t have changed anything. Maybe on one week when I did “Hello”. Picking a song that I had no idea—I had never heard the song before. I was kind of pushed to do–I did it, in my opinion, vocally at a very high level. It was that performance aspect–I think I was so into making it right–remembering the words and remembering the notes–that’s where I really lost there. Other than that, I planned everything that I wanted it to turn out. I did all the songs based on what I wanted to do after this competition and what kind of sound I wanted. It’s been a great journey, man.”
How long before he wins a Grammy?
“A year — two years.”
Who he would like to collaborate with…
“Where to start. I’d love to sit down with Bruno Mars, John Legend. I’d love to sit down with Kanye.”