Team Blake artist Reagan James, though just 15, has already released an album (Remedy came out in 2013) to her credit and is now looking to go make the live playoffs for The Voice (TV Line spilled the beans on the Knockout pairings last week).
I was highly impressed with James’ approach to songwriting and music, and during our interview she gave refreshingly candid answers to my questions – even explaining why she tends to be “all over the place.”
Check out our chat below, as the Burleson, Texas resident discusses about her passion for music, getting coached by Blake Shelton, and, of course, the joy of eating black olives! (For more info on Reagan James, check out her official site)
Good morning Reagan, how are you?
Hi I’m good. How are you?
Great. First off, I have a stupid question. You’ve said in previous interviews that you love black olives.
Oh my gosh, yes!
Do you like them by themselves, on pizza, or just on anything?
All three of those answers are a ‘yes.’ I love them anywhere – anytime (laughs).
How awesome is it to be on The Voice and already have an album out?
It’s so great, because if I didn’t have any of that, I’d just have to point (people) to YouTube videos or things like Instagram and Twitter. I wouldn’t actually have a product that I could give them. It’s cool that they can already go and listen to my stuff and start following me right now. So it’s a blessing, I’m so happy I did that (laughs).
Coming from a musical family and learning how to play guitar, how important is learning how to craft a song through writing along with having a working knowledge on the musicianship behind it? There must be more layers to your work than just the singing aspect.
Yeah. Writing is my biggest passion. It comes before everything. I think that being able to sing and play instruments and write altogether is . . . I’m really happy that I have all those abilities just because you can completely change somebody’s day with your lyrics. You can completely alter how someone’s feeling – and I love it.
Blake Shelton has a way of connecting with artists, no matter what the genre. What has he taught you along the way? Is his ability to relate to the people he coaches a big reason for his success?
I think, it doesn’t matter how good the coaching is. If you’re not comfortable in your skin, you’re not going to get anything out of it. You’re going to be too worried about what you look like (and) what you sound like. The best thing that Blake’s done for me so far is providing me with a sense of comfort within myself to an even bigger extent than I already had.
I’ve always been really confident and aware of my talent. Whenever I’ve been able to work with him, everything is so positive, and encouraging, and instructive. It just boosts my self-confidence. If you can boost your self-confidence, the rest will come and you’ll be able to take the input that people are giving you and you won’t take it harshly. You’ll take it as a good thing. He’s boosted my self-confidence a lot.
You’ve heard it time and time again about being wise beyond your years. I’m wondering where that sense of maturity, especially with how you approach your craft, comes from?
I think that where you are has to do with what you’ve been through. It doesn’t have to be with how long you’ve been alive. The things that I’ve experience and the things I’ve done over the course of my life has shaped me and molded me into the person I am today.
I don’t really have a complete explanation for it – but definitely music has a lot to do with it. Writing – it forces you to get outside your comfort zone and to look at other people’s perspectives on things.
I know you can’t say much about the Knockouts without getting into trouble. But can you, I guess in a vague fashion, talk about the song you chose for this round?
The reason that I song the song that I chose (laughs) – is it fits perfectly into my genre. Lots of chances to go really big and a lot of chances to show off my falsetto. It has a good variety and I think it’s really fun to perform. I think everyone’s going to like it.
I was talking to Matt McAndrew the other day and he was talking about how writing was an autobiographical process. Is that the same for you?
I write a lot of different styles. What I find myself doing a lot of the time is (although) I am still young I really want to write deep stuff that everybody can grasp onto.
But as a kid, I haven’t been through everything yet. I like to be able to look at other people’s lives and experiences and take those things and put myself in their shoes and write like I’m living what they’re living. So I do a lot of that.
I also do a lot of imagery writing – metaphorical stuff. And yeah, I write about my feelings all the time. Not like organized poetry, but (more like) free writing. Then I take that and put it into song form.
I’m writing all the time. Like the notes on your phone? I have hundreds of those.
How great is to have your family and friends supporting you?
You look at some artists and they’ll say they have no support from their families. They’ve come up all on their own and they don’t have anything. Looking at them, and then I look at my situation and I feel so blessed. I have so many people – my whole town is backing me up.
There’s never a moment when I’m alone in this game. I always have people to go to and talk to and help me. That’s an amazing feeling.
Is music your main thing down the road?
Music is my main thing forever. I could see myself writing, producing, performing – all that stuff. That’s why I have such a hard time when people ask what my genre is. I don’t want to fit in one box. I want to do everything.
If I want to go record a country album or if I want to go hip-hop or rock, I want to be able to do that and not be held in one category.
Part of your confidence as a writer and singer, does that come out of your innate curiosity for life? Do those elements add color to your music?
I think what brings out the most colors is the fact that I question myself daily. One day I’ll have one view on life and the next day it will be completely changed.
That seems unstable, but at the same time I’m thankful that I’m all over the map because it allows me to reach so many other people. I can connect with everybody because I have all these thoughts that, if you’re human, you’re going to relate to at least one of them, you know?
Thank you for your time Reagan! Good luck moving forward.
Knockouts continue this week as The Voice airs Monday and Tuesday nights (NBC, 8 pm et/pt).