AMERICAN SOUL: A.I.'S BISHOP STYLZE TALKS WITH MUSICAL RAMBLINGS
Those of you who were fans of American Idol this year no doubt remember the Brokenote Cowboys sketch from earlier in the year and the repeat of it at the finale. It was a motley pairing of three guys singing off key and basically killing their chances to get past the Hollywood rounds. Three no-talent hacks, right?
Not so much.
Remember, these guys had the talent to get past not only the initial 2 producer rounds and the Three Stooges, but also the initial Hollywood rounds. Recently, after being contacted by Brennan Sayre of Sayre Management, I was given the opportunity to download and listen to a song called "Beautiful," as performed by one of the Brokenote Cowboys, Bishop Stylze (nee Michael Evans.)
There's talent there. Yet another example of how American Idol production values can really overshadow really good singers. If you don't believe me, please go download his new single by clicking here. I think you'll agree, his voice is smooth and silky. And with the right promotion, the single is radio-friendly enough to be a hit.
Bishop Stylze sat down with me recently to dish frankly about his American Idol experience, as well as his future plans.
J.D.: First off, what was it like to be on the number one TV show in the country?
Bishop: A dream come true baby!!!
J.D.: What was it like working with the producers of American Idol? I understand some of them can be difficult.
Bishop: I'll tell you that it wasn't that bad, except when they were working to get a reaction from me. I hated that part. Overall though they were cool with me. The executive producer, Nigel, had the "Cowboys" back all the way, so I get to send love out to him as well as Patrick Lynn. I still wanna know when the baby is due, Patrick!!!
J.D.: Okay, time for just a little backstage dirt: did any relationships form between contestants that you saw? I noticed Garet got pretty
close with Leah Barrettsmith. Anybody else?
Bishop: You know...it wasn't that serious on that side of things, unfortunately. All the rookies in Hollywood went that route and were bawling their eyes out when their little fling got sent home the next day. All I have to say is, "stay focused and about your business!!!"
J.D.: What contestants did you form friendships with, and which
contestants did you just really dislike?
Bishop: Us "Cowboys" are friends for life. We talk to each other quite often. While I was in Hollywood the first time, I spent a lot of time with Melissa McGhee, but other than that I didn't really have time for all that. I was there to accomplish my mission and that was to get myself seen in a major way. I couldn't stand the Brittenum twins though! Couple of snitchin', bitchin', punks, as well as this other dude that just gave up on his group on stage. He wasn't trying to sing for anything. It's interesting to see the fear take over people when they're in a position of opportunity and they flake out.
J.D.: Do you think your placement in the Brokenote Cowboy group seriously hurt your chances of advancing in the competition?
Bishop: Man, the way I see it, I was doomed from the start. In my Denver audition, they sent me home to change my clothes and come back to audition the following day. From that point, into the future rounds, it was on for me. I wasn't allowed to be myself from the beginning, so I adapted to my situation to accomplish my goal, thus camouflaging myself as a "Cowboy" and giving the judges hard stares every time I got on that stage. But what I didn't know was that the only training that Garet had was singing to a turkey.
J.D.: Were you upset by the way they portrayed you in the Brokenote Cowboy clips?
Bishop: I wasn't upset on how they portrayed us. We were being real and honest. Outside of Elliott's Mom, we pulled hard on the public's heart strings and let them know that it's good to be alive, and we fight for what we believe in, which is truth, loyalty, and Big Love!!
J.D.: Do you think it put you at a serious handicap to have to perform "cowboy" music, when you're an R&B singer at heart?
Bishop: Yeah I was singing "Cowboy" music, but I'm a "Cowboy" at heart. And how many artists do we know from any genre that take songs from other genres and make them their own? My voice was heard even though I was singing that "Cowboy" music. The feedback that I've gotten is proof of that. Everyone asks, "Why didn't you make it farther? You sound so good?" That's a question we all get to ask the "Freak Show" Paula, Simon, and Fake Ass Randy.
J.D.: Obviously, being put in the cowboy group made you have to reach outside of your preferred genre, musically. How do you handle it when you have to get outside your musical comfort zone?
Bishop: All I have to say for that is that my solo audition in Hollywood was Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell". Nobody can keep me in a box. I do what I want, when I want.
J.D.: Can you describe for us what it was like being on stage and behind the scenes at the finale?
Bishop: Busy!! As well as a whole lot of waiting. The Motto in L.A. is "hurry up and wait". Honestly we were all nervous as hell. Especially before we went on stage, but then I saw the trailer. That boosted me with so much confidence that it was nothing when I got on that stage. It was a dream come true. And to have my voice sound like butter through that sound system just had me feeling myself for Real!!! I know the best thing to happen though was that we came on right before Prince... Now that's what's up!!!
J.D.: Now that Idol is over, are there any contestants in particular that you've kept in touch with?
Bishop: Matt and Garet for sure, as well as Kellie Pickler and Melissa McGhee.
J.D.: You described Kellie Pickler as sweet, but sort of a brat. What's up with that?
Bishop: Yeah man... When I ran into her the second time I was in Hollywood, she was trying to make fun of the song that the producers were working to get us to sing, which was "Stand By Your Man", and being a little too stuck up for her own good. But after a little game of "I'm going to push you into this chair as we're walking down the hall," she was cool from then out. She is honestly a sweet girl and a tiger too. She's a lot smarter than what people give her credit for. And no I'm not hooking you up!! Just know that she wears a 6 1/2 size shoe.
J.D.: What sort of changes has being on the show brought about in your
Bishop: People recognize me a little bit more on the street and my Myspace has blown up, but things are all still a work in progress before I get to the top of the mountain.
J.D.: Tell us a little about your experiences in the music business prior to Idol.
Bishop: Typical... People saying they can do things for me and never coming through. People trying to work me for everything that I had. But also running into some real players who know what they want and are getting it. Giving me good advice and lessons in my writing. Giving me the opportunity to be put on projects that are coming out in the near future. It's all been a rollercoaster ride.
J.D.: I recently listened to your new single "Beautiful" on your management's website. There seem to be a lot of spiritual themes in your music. Do you try to incorporate spirituality in a lot of your music?
Bishop: Yes and no... A lot of what I'm working on right now has less of a spiritual vibe to it. I'm still a very spiritual person, though at that time my spirituality was guiding me heavily through hard times, and that is what would come out when I wrote. I'm all about balance. Not everyone is like I am, so if I can give people something to think about spiritually and have the fun and beauty of life mixed with the struggle then I feel I have covered all bases and allowed people to be invited into a new way of being.
J.D.: Listening to your Myspace page, I can tell you draw from a lot
of influences, like the incomparable 2pac, and many others. In fact,
somebody was telling me that you remind them a lot of TQ. Who influences you most as an artist, and how much of what we're hearing comes just from you?
Bishop: Everything is from me. Being a Colorado Springs suburban boy, Tupac helped me get through the tough times in the Bay Area streets. I also have a big influence from Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. All politically innovative, smooth and full of heart and Passion. I appreciate the reference to TQ. Lets me know that the Thug that runs through my veins is definitely apparrent.
J.D.: Where do you picture yourself as an artist five years from now?
Bishop: Number 1 on the charts and well on my way to taking over the industry and the world.
J.D.: If you could change one thing about the world by your music, what would that be?
Bishop: That people would not be afraid to go for what they want... No matter the risk or consequence.
J.D.: So, is there a special someone that "Beautiful" is directed to?
Bishop: A friend of mine that died earlier this year. She's looking over me now.
J.D.: Where can we go to purchase a copy of your EP?
Bishop: Three places... On the Streets in Denver, CO., Colorado Springs, CO., and everywhere in the Bay Area especially at the ball games with my Boy Track Star! And also at www.myspace.com/chocolatemonkeestyle.
J.D.: Will you be making any appearances soon?
Bishop: Yes, we're working on things right now. Everything will stay posted on the sites.
J.D.: If you could give us just one piece of wisdom that you've learned, what would that be?
Bishop: Don't be afraid to do YOU!! You'll be surprised at what comes into your life.
Good advice! Thanks so much to Bishop Stylez and Sayre Management for hooking us up (even if I didn't get a Kellie Pickler hook-up out of the deal.) I hope to update you more as Bishop's career progresses!