Fifteen year old Tristan McIntosh, eliminated at Top 6, is the last of the teens to leave American Idol. In this interview with reporters via satellite on Friday (3/18), the young singer talks about her love for country music, future plans and the challenges of competing on a stressful TV competition reality show at such a young age.
Also, when asked if she had any post-Idol plans to work with in-house mentor, Scott Borchetta, or any other plans in Nashville, her answer was…I can’t really talk about that. In a post-show interview Thursday night, Scott said that he advised her and her mother to get to work and come back to him when she’s 17 or 18.
When Tristan landed in the bottom 2 with Sonika Vaid, what was going through her mind? Did America’s vote and judges elimination surprise her? What I was thinking on stage is that I needed to give the best performance that I can give with what I’ve been given. It was amazing for Sonika to make it through. She was so happy and I’m just so happy for her.
Tristan seemed to finally find her lane on Idol as a country singer. Did it confuse her when Jennifer suggested she should switch things up if she stuck around? It confused me a little bit when she suggested I change it up because I had found my groove in country music doing country ballads. I understand where she was coming from and I will definitely take that advice when I am making my own music.
How was her experience as a minor contestant different than the older contestants? For one, I usually have 3 hours of school a day, while the others are either in the blue room practicing their music or they are practicing with the vocal coaches or on stage. Having a guardian with you means you head home [earlier] than the other contestants because of California state laws. It was such a great experience for me anyways, even being a minor. It may have been more time consuming, and [required packing] a lot more into less time, but it was still great.
Her mother is an officer in the army. How has the military community and her church community supported her during the high pressured journey of Idol? The military community is awesome and they definitely supported me and really helped to get people’s votes. I made it this far because of my church community–just everybody who supports me. My church community is awesome–in my feature last night they were there with a whole bunch of signs. It was amazing.
What advice does she have for the remaining Top 5 contestants if they find themselves in the bottom. There’s no longer “a bottom” anymore–but just to enjoy yourself throughout the whole experience. Think of this: There are really not that many people who’ve made it into the Top 5 and they are one of them.
Looking back would she have performed a different song to save herself? I had wondered that myself, but honestly, I think I went out with what I’m good at, and that’s doing country and being myself and putting all my emotions in my performance.
Who is the country artist she would most want to be mentored by? I probably would want to be mentored by Martina McBride. She was phenomenal. I covered two of her songs this season and since I was very little, I always really admired her and I would watch her videos on Youtube. She’s just really great.
Looking back, was this the perfect time for her to audition for Idol at only 15? Does she wish there were more seasons of Idol so she could have auditioned later on? I honestly don’t think there was a more perfect time. Because I was 15, this is season 15–it’s so amazing for me to even be here. It was a great way to start my career. If you could start it anywhere, why not on American Idol in the Top 6?
A few weeks ago, when she was rehearsing the song “Clarity,” Scott Borchetta shot the idea down and it made her cry. Why did having to change her song make her emotional? It was the Friday after the show. I was still trying to figure out what song I was doing and I had practiced that one all day. I guess I was just really tired. I was kind of overwhelmed with the fact that I had to change my song again. It worked out anyways!
How did Tristan’s military mother take her elimination? My whole family took it really well because just to be in the Top 6 is an honor in itself. It’s amazing to be here. It’s a great experience, especially at 15. As I have been saying, it’s not the end it’s just the beginning. It was a great place to start my career.
Scott Borchetta seems to still want to work with her. Does she have any kind of a post Idol Nashville plan? Looooong pause Uhm. That’s…I can’t really give anything right now (giggle) to answer that question. Sorry.
Where does her love of country music come from? What are her major influences? One of my major influences would definitely be my grandfather. He was the one who always loved country music before I was born, and just really got me into it. When I was younger, he introduced me to some of the artists and some of the songs, and I really fell in love with them, and listened to them and sang them around the house all the time.
Did she ever consider singing pop music? I feel like I always considered everything as an artist. People would always ping me to do pop music. But in the end, I always wanted to do country–it always came back to country.
How difficult was it for Tristan during the competition to choose songs? Did she feel pulled in different directions? Initially, I was not very sure of myself or my song choices, but as the competition progressed, I really came into my own and really stood up for my choices–was really confident in what I chose and felt my voice would sound best with. The competition really helped me find a sense of my own artistry.
Where there times, earlier in the competition where she went with the flow more, and then later stood up for herself in terms of songs she really wanted to do? In the beginning, you’re kind of like “Oh yeah, let’s just do this, maybe it will sound good” and you’re experimenting and you’re not thinking about how it will affect you in the end. As that went on, I became more self-aware of the songs I was choosing and how I would connect to them. And when I connected to them, how they felt and how they looked. Performing those songs really made me feel confident about myself. I kept choosing songs that me feel that way.
Tristan was set to sing “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi if she had made it to the Top 5, what was her thinking in choosing that song? It seemed a bit different than what she had done before? A few weeks earlier I had just been looking over a list of songs because you should always have songs prepared for the week ahead–be proactive. I saw that one. I said “what’s this song?” I like Bon Jovi, and I just hadn’t heard that song. I was listening to it and [thought] “This would be a great song to slow down.” I started practicing it and it just kind of happened. Somebody suggested it on the Idol request, and I was overjoyed, I decided to cover that song.
What was her favorite song to perform in competition and why? My favorite song to perform was probably “Go Rest High on the Mountain” by Vince Gill. It was my favorite because I really was attached to it–the melody and the piano–it all really came together.
What does American Idol mean to her–maybe having grown up watching it and now having been a contestant on the show? American Idol was literally a dream come true. As I was performing, I got a letter from my old English teacher, that when I was younger I said that I was going to be on American Idol because I was watching it. It was really cool to be able to audition for it and get as far as I did.
Who does she think will be the last winner of American Idol? Honestly, every single person on that stage deserves it. They’re just amazing people and amazing performers and artists. Any of them would make a great final Idol.
How has being on American Idol impacted her dating life and what are her must-haves in a partner? – Uhm. Laughs. I don’t know. I haven’t really dated anyone, so this is a bit strange. Humor and a personality and being human. Continues to laugh.
What judge did she learn the most from? I’m taking all of their advice and using it to my advantage. Not everybody gets a chance to go on stage and have three very successful musicians tell them how THEY were successful and how to be successful in this business.
Was there anything that one of the judges said to her that led her to a different song choice for the next week? Or did she just take everything as it came? I took one of their comments–to be more comfortable on stage. As I became more comfortable as the rounds progressed, I really felt more confident as a performer and as an artist. That’s really going to help me.
Being on the very last season of American Idol–has it resonated with her? I’m just taking everything day by day. It’s amazing just to have had this opportunity. I met so many great people and the amazing teams that worked with me–I can’t explain how grateful I am to have had this opportunity.
Which was her favorite week? Every week was really fun, because I got to spend it with great people. All the contestants are amazing people and they always make me laugh. Every week that I spent with them was amazing.
Did she speak with Adam Lambert backstage? Adam was backstage with us for maybe 3 minutes. Those 3 minutes were amazing because he’s a very kind person and very upbeat. He gave us good advice and was really nice to us.
Tristan McIntosh Interviews