I got a chance to speak with Elliott Yamin by phone on Monday about his new album and more, as he gets ready to join 14 fellow Idol alums in a pre-final concert bash, Tuesday May 24 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, sponsored by AT&T.
It’s been two years since the release of Elliott Yamin’s last album, Fight For Love and he vows not to let so much time pass between albums. He spent the early part of this year in Japan promoting an album, Gather Round that was produced especially for the Japanese market. Now he’s hard at work on a version of his album to be released in the United States and he could not be more excited.
Don’t expect a lot of studio tricks or auto-tune. Elliott is co-writing, co-producing and co-arranging his next album, getting even deeper into the process of album making. And he’s doing it his way, working with collaborators to make an album of “organic… gritty, raw soul.”
Elliott hopes to get out on a short tour at the end of this summer.
About Elliott’s collaborators, “Aaron Goldstein , is my co-writer and co-producer and has been in my band since I’ve been off the show. Brett Nolan owns the studio [they recorded in] is an engineer, but also co-produced and co-wrote the entire album with us. Brett’s Dad is Kenny Nolan. He’s the gentleman who wrote “Lady Marmalade” [by Labelle] and “My Eyes Adore You” by Frankie Vallie. He wrote “Masterpiece” by Atlantic Starr. Brett and Kenny own their own studio in Van Nuys. I met Brett through Aaron. It’s just this amazing relationship [that began] almost a year ago. Ever since that time we’ve just been writing song after song, really challenging ourselves as far as writing great material and involving as many live instruments as we can. I’ve never really had the experience up until this point and I just have to say it’s been eye opening–it’s been amazing. The three of us together, collectively did this whole project together. When I say together, we went into our own pockets and brought in horn players and we did it ourselves, our own way, which is really cool.”
How did the new album come together? “We did the entire Japanese album together. The only difference between the two—on the Japanese album, there are 4 songs that lean more towards the contemporary, mainstream vibe. I’ve had success in Japan with those types of songs on the radio. We were in the middle of making this album that was really just going to be an organic, live soul record. The Japanese—they weren’t really feeling the direction that I was going in, so I had to stop with the soul record, and bring up some of these contemporary records to include on the album, so we could have some success with it (chuckle). After we promoted and toured over there back in February I had enough time to come back here and bring up those other songs that fit more in the lane of the album I wanted to release here—a more cohesive group of songs that all sounded like they belong together.
On the vibe of the American release: “I guess you can call it “old school soul”. It’s just really soulful, it’s really organic. I feel it represents who I am and where I’m going. The songs are great because they all come from personal experience. It’s gritty, raw soul.”
When will the album come out? “Originally, I wanted to release at the beginning of the summer, but it’s taking us a little longer than I anticipated for us to get the final mix ready for mastering. I’d say, over the next 10 days we’re going to have a finished, mastered album to be released here in the US. I have a couple of small modest independent deals on the table right now. We’re just kind of sifting those deals, to figure out the best way to release it and I’m excited, because there are a couple of labels who are really interested and we’re just kind of weighing those out right now, figuring out the best way possible to release this album.”
Does he have a single picked out? “I don’t. That’s the big difference between this release and the last couple of releases –we’ve always had a single to kind of go off with. [The single] is still something we’re trying to figure out. Once we have a label, it will be easier. It’s one step at a time. The thing about this album, is that I wasn’t really catering to the radio sound. That’s obviously going to be our biggest challenge. Also, I’ve been blessed to have singles and songs on the radio. That’s something I’d love to continue, moving forward of course. But this time around, I haven’t been on a label–I haven’t had those kind of pressures. It enabled me to really hone in on the sound I wanted for this album and worry more about the quality as opposed to the quantity— [rather than ] making sounds that everybody is trying to make. I’m just really happy that this product and this material personifies me and who I am and where I’m going as an artist. I want to have longevity in this career. And I think the music that we’ve made for this release is timeless and classic. At the end of the day, that’s all I can hope for. If things catch on and something works in the public, that’s an added bonus.
Upcoming plans, “As we speak, we’re trying to put together maybe a 3 or 4 week run at the end of August–try to get out and tour, play small clubs and get the word out about this album– get to perform some of this new material which I’m really excited about.”
Elliott is ready for his next album! “I hit a great stride with this album, and we’ve got so many ideas on the backburner right now that we kind of had to set aside. Needless to say, there’s a whole litany of ideas that we had that we can’t wait to get back to and start writing and creating again. I don’t want as much time to lapse between albums anymore. Nowadays it’s easier than ever to get music out to the public and what I’ve been able to do over this past year in the studio is really build up my catalog and my cache of songs. It’s important as an artist—not to overdo it– but to keep that fan base engaged. That’s something I’ve really been trying to work on. “
Thoughts about this season of Idol, “Where do I start! I thought this season was amazing. I really loved the way the show focused on developing the artist. That’s something I think it got away from up until this season. I think they’ve giving the contestants a lot more to juggle than they ever have on the show and it was just a lot of fun to watch. It’s kind of strange that the two finalists are these young, country acts. I’m not necessarily a fan of their voices per se, but for them to be as young as they are, and handle all the pressures that come along with being on the show, I think they’ve done a spectacular job. I wish them both the best of luck.”
Elliott has met them both, “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both kids. They are both just really well-raised kids, really respectful. It’s been a fun season.”