Following is a transcript of an interview session last Friday afternoon with Idol eliminated contestant Devin Velez. Velez holds little back in the session:
Do you think you were unfairly judged on the group song?
DV: “Not really unfairly. I think that I am a little at fault. I didn’t forget my lyrics. I think that when you’re in a group, because one person is representing everyone else, I think it should have been my job as a brother to the other two–we maybe could have
discussed learning the lyrics a lot better, just because if we knew we were going to be so unsure of our lyrics getting on stage, we probably should not have done the song. What happened–and I tried to save the song to the best of my ability–but it wasn’t my job to do so. I know that though my solo performance went well–because our group performance was following the solo performance–I know that’s what America remembered freshly in their mind.
Talk about wanting to win Prom King at your military school…
DV: “Prom is June 1, and so I’m hoping that with all this publicity and stuff, that I don’t get too busy. Just because I am still a kid and I still do have my last teenage
years ahead of me. I want to live them up. My dream has always been to win prom
king. I won homecoming king this year… before I came to idol. It’s always been
my dream. If this dream was achievable, I don’t think that one is too far out
of reach now that I’m going back home.”
Are you ready to concede that a girl is going to win this year
DV: “You know you can never be sure. I know that the odds are scary right now, but if
the guys step it up, they do have a chance. I think that all of the people that
are left–it’s really scary the way this competition is going to go, just
because the talent that’s left is amazing. These people–they are some of the
best singers I’ve ever heard.”
When are you going back to Chicago? Will you return to school and your
job at Starbucks?
DV: ”I’m stopping in New York for a couple of days, then I’m going back home. But when I do get back, I’m hoping to go back to school. I’m sure how that transition is going to work, just because we did have to sign me out temporarily because I had to miss time for Idol. As far Starbucks, I kinda want to for the money reasons, it was my job–that was another passion of mine. I don’t know how that’s going to work out. It might be a little hard now that people know who I am–I’m not just going to be writing “caramel macchiato” on cups but, I might be signing them and passing them off, and
that’s going to get crazy. I’m debating on whether I’m going back to be a
barista or not.”
Will you attend college this fall?
DV: “I would still love to get my degree in music education. It’s been my dream for the last year and a half.”
Which week did you find the most challenging and why?
DV: “I’d have to say was, when I sang “Temporary Home. That theme was
past Idol songs. It was interesting –there was so many song choices and yet I
didn’t feel that I could do any of them justice. When I heard “Temporary Home”
I had an emotional connection with the song meaning, but I don’t think I had
any moments to shine in the song, so that week it was really not that great for
me. It was the first week I was in the bottom 2.”
What critique will you remember the most from any of the judges or
DV: “It’s from all of them. ‘Stay true to yourself.’ I think I’ve been pretty consistent
in doing that on the show. I’m the same before the show, I’m the same on the
show, and I’m going to be the same after the show. Idol hasn’t changed me, I
have grown as a person, but I haven’t changed who I am. I think America fell in
love with me for a reason, and I don’t want to change–not just to let them
down, but also not to let myself down. I think you should be proud of who you
are and the decisions that you’ve made as a person. I can say that I have no
regrets on the show, and if I can go back and change anything, I wouldn’t.”
Who will you keep in touch with on the show?
DV: “Oh man. I have to say–Burnell, Laz, Angie, Kree, Janelle, Amber, and Candice. Oh wait…that’s all of them. There’s no way I can narrow it down. These people are my family. We’ve been together for 3 months. I’ve fallen in love with these people. I’ve had
almost all of the top 5 guys–I’ve had them as roomates. The girls–we’ve gotten
closer and closer throughout the weeks. I think that’s the saddest part about
leaving the competition –isn’t leaving the stage, but it’s leaving your
brothers and sisters.
When Nicki told the guys to get off the stage after the group number,
how did they deal with that?
DV: “It was a little difficult. Just because–right when you get off stage, as an artist, you are your worst critic. You’re always thinking about all the negative things that you had during the performance–and if you could change things–you’re trying to play it
back and change it in your head. I really was OK. I did feel a little embarrassed, just because–this far into the competition, we shouldn’t be having little mistakes like forgetting the lyrics. I totally agree with Nicki Minaj when she says that it felt like Hollywood week. But mistakes do happen and the pressure does get to us. We’re still human. But it was a little disappointing just to see that–when you are so far into the competition that THAT was the mistake that we made. That’s a mistake that shouldn’t even be questioned right now. We should know our lines and know are parts. What happened, happened. I think that was a wakeup call for all of us, whether we went home or whether we stayed. ”
Did you think you were going to be saved? Or did you know the
writing was on the wall?
DV: “I kinda knew the writing was on the wall, man. Nothing of course,
was definite until the moment of…even the night prior I was getting this
feeling, and I was like ‘alright. I think I’m going home.’ I wasn’t sad about
it. I’m still not sad about it now. It’s weird. People are expecting me to be
all mopey and crying. But my thing is–making top 10 was winning for me. It’s a
great accomplishment. Some of the contestants on the show that are still
left–they’ve auditioned 2 or 3 times and this is my first time auditioning, and
I’ve made it this far. It’s a great accomplishment and I’m so blessed to have
made it this far.”
Were you pointing fingers at Lazaro after the disastrous trio
performance? Did Nicki over react a little bit?
DV: “Looking back at the video, I know where Nicki was coming from. I
agree with the first half of her critique, when she said that it felt like it
was Hollywood week, that it was a joke, that stuff like that should not happen,
that she was going to pretend that she didn’t hear it. I agree with that. When
she went crazy–when she was like ‘get off the stage, blah blah blah’ and it’s
just like ‘whoa Miss Minaj, I need you to calm down please.’ We’re still human,
we still have feelings. She doesn’t care sometimes. It’s all good, we still
love Nicki. Hearing that, it still is a little cutting while on stage. But the
way my mother raised me was when someone was saying bad things about you when
they’re not true? Guess what, they’re not talking about you. When Nicki Minaj
was saying that we were forgetting our lyrics and we were off-pitch–without
pointing fingers–I wasn’t off pitch, nor did I forget my lyrics, therefore I didn’t
take that to offence. But it still sucks to be up there, seeing your team get
knocked down that hard. But what happened happened. We’re growing and I think
it was a great wakeup call. I don’t think that’s going to happen again on the
What was going through your mind as you waited to hear if you were
saved or not? It seemed like they might save you.
DV: “It wasn’t that tough. I think it was already set in stone. I kinda felt like today
was just going to happen–I thought I was going home. Sooner or later we all
have to go home. I think they are going to save the save for someone really
really special. Not that I don’t think that I’m special, but with all the
talent that’s left–if someone is in the bottom 2 that doesn’t belong there–just
because they have one bad song day–I think they should use that save on that
Are there any song choices you would have changed in hindsight?
DV: “No. Even the week that I first was in the bottom 2–when I sang
“Temporary Home”–though I didn’t have any moments to shine vocal wise, I’ve
always had a personal connection with that song. I’m a firm believer in staying
true to who you are. And I think I make decisions as an artist–and I think them
through before I make them. So the fact that I’ve gotten to where I’ve
gotten–It was my doing and no one else’s. I wouldn’t go back and change
Was there anything that really surprised you about Idol that you
didn’t think would happen?
DV: “Yeah. Looking back at the show, after watching every episode of
every season–when you see top 10 and you see the photo shoots and you see the
commercials, and you’re just ‘man, these people are just rolling in money and
they’re sleeping in and getting room service.’ And the biggest wakeup call is
that we get no sleep. Call times are super early and we have to go through hair
and makeup and dress rehearsals and run-throughs and press. Our schedules are
really really tight. One of the things I’m taking away from this is a lot more
respect for people that work on television programs like this, just because
they work so hard to make us look good. It looks so nice and sweet on the TVs.
There’s a lot of effort that goes into it.”
Have you ever seen an Idol summer tour before?
DV: “I haven’t been to one of the tours. But I’m so excited to do it. It’s been a dream. It’s every performers dream to do that–to perform across the country and have fans shouting out your name, and sing with people you love. What I’m looking forward to the most is that I’m going to be singing with the same people that I was a couple of weeks ago, except we’re not competing in the competition. So the fact that we’re just going to be able to sing and not have anybody go home–we’re still going to be together–I think that’s going to be the greatest experience ever.”
Did the “girls will win” talk put the guys to a disadvantage
DV: “I can’t speak so much on it, because I don’t know who votes for
what. But I do know that though the judges aren’t voting, I know that their
critiques do have a very big influence on America’s votes. As for the guys
being in the bottom 3 last night, I think that our group performance is what
put us there. I think it was well deserved. I think that we weren’t prepared,
and we went up there, and it was unprofessional. Because of that, we were in
bottom 3. I wouldn’t change that for anything, just because I don’t want to be
treated unfairly. And the fact that we weren’t prepared showed how serious it
can be, where you can go home. The girls–they have power, man. They’ve been
consistent with their performances and the vocals. None of them have gone home
yet. That’s crazy! They’re fighting strong.”
Do you think Nicki’s tough critiquing this week was the result of
Jimmy complaining that the judges were too soft?
DV: “Nicki Minaj is one of those characters where she has multiple
personalities–she’s her own person. And it’s weird, because you never know what
you’re going to get with Nicki Minaj. She could have been upset because the
night before she was wearing the same colored dress as Mariah, or that she was
on time. We never know. But I know that I love her as a judge…It’s when she
gets into the exaggerative speaking, where it’s just like, ‘Ah, take it easy!
You don’t wanna hurt somebody else’s feelings.’ But yeah, she is who she is.”
Were you very close to Mariah Carey?
DV: “Our time with the judges–it’s not much. It’s a little bit during
rehearsals, and maybe backstage before we go on. But it’s not like we get to
sit down and talk. After I got voted off last night, I actually had a
conversation with her, and hearing things like–that she was so proud to see the
artist that I was becoming, and that if nothing works out later on down the
road, that she would love to contact me. Hearing things like that from Mariah
Carey–it’s crazy because she is so huge. It’s crazy how big this woman is in
the industry. Hearing that was a little reassuring and I’m a little more at
peace just because if nothing happens, I know that I always have that to fall
Did you have similar conversations with the other judges?
DV: “Nicki might have had to step away earlier, because I didn’t get to say bye to her, she had prior engagements. Keith gave me a big ole bear hug, and he was just being Keith, and I love him and he said that he was sad that I had to go and he said to keep going and that no matter what, I was an Idol in their eyes. Randy said the same thing that Mariah did–if nothing happens, that they would love to contact me sometime down the road, just because I had true talent. Hearing that from such great people makes me feel good as an artist, but also as a person. I enjoyed every moment of it last night.”
DV: “I want to say thank you guys for having me. The fact that I’m leaving the show doesn’t mean that this is the end of Devin. I have spoken about this before–I’m not
changing who I am for America. I’m not changing who I am for family or friends.
I’m not changing who I am unless I want to change, and right now, I don’t. I
think that America fell in love with me for a reason, I’m going to continue to
give them 100%. So whatever life brings, just as long as I have my Devineers
out there, and my God, I think everything is going to be alright. Keep voting
for me in life. To support me in life. That’s all that I ask.”