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‘The Voice’ Contestant Will Champlin Reveals Why He Almost Chose Team Blake + How OneRepublic Inspires Him [Exclusive]

will-champlin
Tyler Golden/NBC

The first indicator of Will Champlin’s starpower was when he began to sing Gavin DeGraw‘s ‘Not Over You’ during the blind auditions of the ‘The Voice.’ The second indicator was when not one, not two, but three of the four coaches fought for Will to join their team.

Ultimately choosing to become a member of Adam Levine‘s team, Will has gained a fan following through his powerful performances of OneRepublic‘s ‘Secrets’ and Imagine Dragons‘ ‘Demons.’ The singer took a break from rehearsing to chat with PopCrush about why he chose ‘The Voice’ over other shows, what’s on his playlist and what working with Adam is really like.

First of all, congratulations on making it this far. That’s amazing!
Top 10, it’s awesome.

Why did you choose Team Adam? Blake Shelton and Cee Lo also turned their chairs around.
I thought for the genre and general direction I was going in musically, everything from the hook-driven rock bands to electro, in my production and my songwriting and everything like that in my performance, I believed that Adam was the right person. I think that Adam was the perfect person to [help me] become a better performer at that stuff.

Judging from what you’ve already sung on the show, I can see how that would be a good fit.
He’s such a versatile artist and frontman and visionary. He makes great records, too.

Blake was the first person to turn when you were performing. What went through your head when you saw that he was interested in you?
I’ll be honest with you, it was kind of a toss-up between Blake and Adam. I know that I have a rootsy side to me — a little bit Americana, soul — that maybe Blake would have related to a little bit more. I have a taste for the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, but I think ultimately I leaned in the direction [of Adam] and used those elements. Adam is really kind of open to every kind of music possible. I could use a lot of those elements in my music, but use them enough to where they emphasize the rock-soul side of me.

One of the most interesting parts of the show is that pretty much everybody in the blind auditions is really talented, but of course, not everybody is chosen. Did it ever occur to you when you got up onstage that for whatever reason, none of the judges would be interested?
Yeah, I felt like, “Maybe I’ll get a turn. I don’t know.” That’s how I put it, I think. “Maybe if I just really dig in deep enough … they’ll like it enough to turn and give me a shot.”

It paid off!
It definitely did. It didn’t happen right away in the song. I had to kind of work into their ears a little bit.

Why did you choose ‘The Voice’ instead of ‘The X Factor’ or ‘American Idol’ or any other talent show?
I chose ‘The Voice’ because I knew they had a lot more respect for each artist, as opposed to the other shows. They don’t get it. I don’t think those shows ever got it. I was turned off by some of the other shows and how they did things … I’ve seen many people leave that show, trying to maintain their artistic integrity — I’ve never really seen them leave with it. It’s just kind of like, they don’t really leave with much musical artistic integrity after that, after those phases. It’s like, way more in ‘The Voice.’ That’s why ‘The Voice’ is legit.

Is there a former reality contestant whose career path you admire or want to emulate? There’s people who’ve come off of a show and had wildly successful careers.
I’m tryng to think right now. I can’t think of very many. There’s very few, to be honest with you. That’s unfortunate. I just know what I can put out to the world, musically. I’m very hands-on with my own music. I took the time and learned how to compose tracks and sounds and everything. I soak that up all the time. I’m like a junkie for production. I really like using it to my advantage, to my own artistry … I’ve seen a lot of my friends go through different reality shows and they just get caught up in a lot of stagnant positions, unfortunately. This is the kind of time in my life where my priority is using my music to survive. With already being given exposure already, [it] doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and go further. I’m definitely a fighter, like Christina Aguilera would say.

What was it like working with Adam?
I’ve learned a lot from him. For a song, his whole approach is to stay with the melody as much as possible. Especially with a new song and it’s really fresh in people’s heads, stay more on the money with it, but find moments in there to do your own thing with it. Like [OneRepublic’s] ‘Secrets’ song I did a few weeks ago, I really had to rearrange it because it’s four years old and that would probably remind people enough — with a different kind of arrangement and a different spin on it. I was lucky. It gave me the liberty to take the reigns with that and change up the groove and change up everything I could about it.

Clearly, OneRepublic really liked the cover. How did you react when you saw they tweeted out that it was the best version of ‘Secrets’ that they’ve ever heard?
I was surprised! I didn’t know what the reaction would be because sometimes someone won’t want their music being redone too much. I guess I hit it enough where they thought it was cool and they thought it was different and I did my own thing with it. It sounded like they respected the originality of it, doing my own thing with it, and that felt so good to hear. Especially being able to be co-mentored by Ryan Tedder as well.

He’s done so much producing and other things as well.
He’s one of my favorite producer-writers, as well as artists, too. He’s somebody I try to follow in those same paths. I myself want to have a band. I’m envisioning a OneRepublic-type, that kind of setup where it’s really one artist driving the ship. I really like that kind of setup, for my own situation in the future. To be able to work with other artists as well.

How do you prepare for the show each week? I think the people at home see a small piece of it, but they don’t get the full idea.
There’s a lot the public doesn’t see. Things happen so fast here. You’ve just got to roll with the punches and be on your A-game because a week rolls by so fast. You only have a couple of days to prepare for the next performance. It’s very fast and furious and I’m just getting used to it.

Do you know when you’ll be able to choose the songs you perform on the show?
The coaches choose the songs for you. You can get them changed, but if they find the right one for you, I usually go with it if it’s working for me. If not, I try to get the best song I can. I think that’s important for any artist to fight for the best song you possibly can.

Can you share with PopCrush readers what’s on your playlist right now?
Hold on, I’m going into Spotify right now as we speak. ‘All Over Now’ by Eric Hutchinson, Zac Brown’s ‘Goodbye in Her Eyes.’ ‘Say Something,’ by A Great Big World, of course, that Christina did on the show. ‘Hey Brother,’ Avicii. Jeff Buckley, ‘Lover You Should’ve Come Over.’ Mumford & Sons. What else do I have? ‘Wagon Wheel’ by Darius Rucker. ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe, ‘Wake Me Up’ by Avicci. ‘Song for You,’ Herbie Hancock and Christina Aguilera.

Next: Read Our Recaps of the Latest Episodes of 'The Voice'

Watch Will Champlin Perform ‘Secrets’ on ‘The Voice’

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