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Q&A: David Archuleta releases new Christmas album, will stop in Athens for tour

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  • Dec 11, 2018

Singer and songwriter David Archuleta began his career as a 16-year-oldcontestant in the seventh season of “American Idol.” Today, the now-27-year-old is still performing and making music.  

The Red & Black spoke with Archuleta about his life as a musician, his experiences attending therapy, creating an EP in Spanish and his upcoming performance in Athens.

The Red & Black: As a 16-year-old contestant on the 2007 season of “American Idol,” your success as a musician came early in life. Have you learned any lessons from this success, and how do you think you’ve grown since that time?

David Archuleta: The biggest lesson was that I could do things that I didn’t think I could. My parents always looked at me as a pessimistic person because I never thought I could do anything. I just thought I was being realistic. [The show] was like music bootcamp, so I felt like it prepared me and helped in my career as a musician and artist.

R&B: Relating to that pressure you felt, in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, you opened up about your struggles with mental health, particularly of feelings similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, after “American Idol.” Can you talk a little bit about dealing with these feelings? How did the experience impact your music?  

DA: I think it was taken out of context. I told the interviewer [the “American Idol” experience] was kind of like PTSD, like you still are dealing with things, but I have never been diagnosed with PTSD. I didn’t want people to think I had PTSD. It was taken out of context and they put it in the headline.

[During “American Idol”], I was under a lot of pressure. What doesn’t kill you makes me you stronger, kind of like that Kelly Clarkson song. A lot times when you’re under pressure, you think the best thing is to run away from it. What has helped me get through that a lot of times is just taking a break — taking a pause and saying a prayer. I’m a religious person, so a lot [of] times, I’ll turn to God and say, “Okay, what do you want me to learn from this? How do you want me to grow from this?”  

R&B: In an Instagram post from Aug. 11, you opened up about your experiences with therapy. Can you talk about this experience? How has therapy impacted your music?

DA: I took a break from music for a little bit to rediscover myself. I became a missionary in Chile for my church. When I came back, I actually took some college classes at [Brigham Young University]. One of my favorite classes was psychology. When I was learning about how the brain works and how our behavior is affected, I really wanted to know understand myself better. I wanted to understand the flaws that I have, the brokenness that I have, because I believe weaknesses can become strength.

My way to do that was to go to therapy, and I’ve been going ever since. I tried dating a little bit and going into relationships, but I’ve found there are these blocks. I have major trust issues and I was really afraid of being vulnerable, so I really wanted to understand why. Therapy has been awesome.

R&B: With earlier songs like your 2008 anthem “Crush,” 2009’s “A Little Too Not Over You” and more recent music like “Someone to Love,” your music explores intimacy, romantic love and loss. Can you talk a bit about your creative process? What inspires you in your songwriting and performing?

DA: Like I said, I’m a religious person. I made a commitment to always be close to God and let Him guide my creativity, and I ask to start with a prayer [in the studio]. Everyone has always been so cool about it. We start with a prayer, and I just let that divine guide the writing and creative process, because I feel like He’s the source of creativity and inspiration.

It has been really cool because some of the people, whatever spiritual background they have, always say, “You know, that was a really cool experience.” I want to help connect with people, and I want to help motivate them to keep moving forward. That’s my goal with music.

R&B: In a recent interview with Desert News, you discuss the challenges of a being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the music industry. In particular, you discuss temptation to abandon your values. Can you give a specific about a few of those challenges you have faced?

DA: Anytime you’re a part of a religion, faith or culture, there are certain expectations that are placed on you. When you have a belief and relationship with God, there’s a certain culture people expect [of] you. You feel pressured to be like everyone else. People will say, “Aren’t you supposed to be close to God? Why did you make a mistake?” I’m human. That’s something people need to remember.

R&B: Can you talk about the inspiration for your new album “Winter in the Air”?

DA: It’s the second Christmas album I’ve done. I just really like Christmas music. I wanted to have more fun with this one. The first Christmas album I did, “Christmas From The Heart,” was more sacred, more into the reason for the season. [For] the second album, “Winter in the Air,” I wanted to have songs like “White Christmas and “Holly Jolly Christmas.” They’re more fun and bouncy and happy.

R&B: According to your website, on Nov. 2, in addition to “Winter in the Air,” you released an EP with four Christmas carols in Spanish. The EP was made in honor of your Hispanic heritage. Why did you decide to incorporate these songs?

DA: My mom is Honduran. My aunts and my grandparents — when we celebrate Christmas, we have that side to it. Also, my family even says, “We’ve been waiting for years. When are you going to release something in Spanish for us?” This is my first project in Spanish. It’s kind of like a doorway for a whole Spanish album. I’ve started writing in Spanish, too. Now that I went on my mission in Chile, I feel like I’ve become more fluent, so I feel like there’s no excuse.  

R&B: Your “Winter in the Air” tour stops in places like Orlando and New York City. Why did you decide to stop in Athens?

DA: I try to stop in Georgia often. It’s actually been one of the most supportive states during my career. [The people in Georgia] were very supportive of my first single, “Crush.” I also have family there. I’ve never done a solo show in Athens, so I’m looking forward to it.

R&B: What can fans expect for your upcoming show in Athens?

DA: They can expect some of those fun, bouncy Christmas songs mixed with a lot of those more sacred songs. It’s a busy time of the year and so much is going on. I want people to come and take a break from that and feel a little peace.