Even though they were eliminated on the eve of last week’s holiday, the spirit of Thanksgiving has clearly gotten through to the members of Lakoda Rayne and singer LeRoy Bell, who all shared positive words about their X Factor experiences on a press conference call yesterday.
“I enjoyed myself very much. [The younger singers in the competition] are good kids. I didn’t really look at it as a competition,” LeRoy, 60, told reporters on Tuesday. “I know a lot of people were asking ‘Who is your biggest competition?’ but I didn’t view the experience that way.”
Dani Knights of the group Lakoda Rayne, who began as four solo auditioners, said, “There definitely is a future for us together. It’s not something we’re just going to let fade out. We were put together for a reason and we feel like it was fate. Yeah, we wouldn’t want it any other way but to be in a group and make music together.”
Read on for more highlights from the interviews:
On their overall experience on The X Factor, compared to their initial expectations:
Hayley Orrantia: Well, a lot of people expected a manufactured group to not be as successful because we were thrown together and had such a little amount of time working together, but we actually came together really well. We became best friends and like sisters, and I know people are like, “Well that’s just things that they say,” but it’s true. But it’s true because we laugh like sisters, we play like sisters, we argue like sisters, and I think it worked out so well to the point where we don’t want to be away from each other. A lot of people expect it to be the complete opposite.
On their future plans as a group:
Dani Knights: Actually, Paige is staying with me right now. She actually found a place close by here in the Los Angeles County, so we are actually planning on as soon as Hayley and Cari finish school — which we don’t really know at this point — as soon as they finish school, all of us will work on finding a place together here in the Los Angeles County and of course working on our music, writing songs.
On their best memory of the competition:
Dani Knights: I think our best memories have definitely been getting to work with Paula every single day of our lives. She was honestly there for us so much. She was involved in the entire process. It wasn’t just an act for TV to make it look like the judges are involved in our lives. Paula was really there every step of the way and she’s just taught us so much not only about ourselves as artists and performers, but on a more personal level and we just learned so much from her. It was definitely such an amazing experience.
On the advantages/disadvantages of being in the “Groups” category:
Paige Ogle: I think that one advantage for us for being in the group category was that we had each other, and I think it was a lot more fun than being a solo artist because in the group numbers, we had someone to goof around with. But I think a disadvantage to that was that America never really got to know us and connect with us.
On why they didn’t “connect” with American viewers:
Dani Knights: Well I mean, all the other contestants had — they did have really deep, deep emotional background stories and our story was just kind of coming together as a group and we gave thanks to the people who were really important in our lives. But I feel like that’s just as important as somebody who had to overcome something really difficult in their lives. Just because we didn’t have a story like that, I don’t think that was a reason that America didn’t connect with us. I just think it was because in seeing our packages that were put on the show before we perform, we had to split up like two minutes between four people — trying to get to know four people as opposed to solo artists, who that whole set of minutes was dedicated to them and everything about their lives.
On what they should have or could have done differently in the competition:
Dani Knights: I think we started to get a voice maybe a little bit too late in the competition. We didn’t want to step on any toes. This was an incredible opportunity. We were working with absolutely the best of the best in the industry and it wasn’t until later that we came to realize, “If we don’t start speaking up, we will not be heard.” And we started to — this competition kind of made us realize what kind of personality we have as a group and what kind of style we have, and that was something we all had to figure out along the process of this competition.
On their best X Factor performance:
Hayley Orrantia: I think the song that best represents us as a group and what we want to bring to the industry was actually our last performance of “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift. Honestly, after we got off the stage that night, the girls and I said, “If we go out, it would be on this performance that we want to go out after.” We had such a good time performing it and for the first time, we were just like, “Yes, this was it. This is what we should be doing. This is the direction where we should head.” So, I think it was a good performance to go out on, because people — that’s something that they will remember us by and something that they’ll be looking forward to in the future.
On the challenge and importance of song choices:
Dani Knights: We literally spent like 14 hours a day trying to pick a song and trying to find the correct song — like 14 hours on one day, the day or two days before the show. So, it would be extremely long days for us trying to find the perfect song, but eventually — you know what was really ironic, was eventually we ended up with the first song we wanted to sing by the end of the day. We picked the same song, so it ended up being super ironic. But yeah, it was really difficult.
On their distinct personalities:
Cari Fletcher: I’ll describe each of the girls. Dani is the oldest one of the group, so she’s definitely the most nurturing and the most caring — the one that you always go to when you need somebody to talk to about something or talk about a problem with. She is very motherly, but at the same time, she’s such a goofball and that’s what we love about her. But Dani is very nurturing and very, very caring. Paige is extremely rebellious. She’s like the one that just has no filter. Whatever comes to mind, Paige just says it. If we’ve all kind of learned something from Paige, it’s that if you don’t speak up and say what you want, you’ll never get it. So, Paige is definitely that kind of girl. Hayley is your sneaker, jeans and T-shirt kind of girl — really down to earth, really funny. She just has a really chill personality and she is hilarious too.
Dani Knights: And Cari, we like to call her our all-American girl. But honestly, Cari is just very, very, very sociable. She can be everybody’s best friend and she’s a really old 17-year-old in a way. She’s extremely wise and I can literally sit down and have coffee with Cari and have these incredible in-depth conversations — these wise conversations — because she’s far wiser beyond her years. You could put her in any situation and she’ll make it comfortable.
On his elimination deadlock with Marcus Canty:
I knew that decision could come. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I thought he was leaning to keeping me but I also know LA had a lot invested in Marcus. I didn’t know how that would go, whether he was trying not to upset the apple cart and let the voters decide without him being the bad guy or what. I’m not sure.
On the audience’s emotional response to his “Angel” performance:
There was a lot of response for that one from people who were already supporting me, but I think it brought a lot of new people in too because it hit a nerve with people. I think it hit a nerve because it’s a beautiful song to begin with and then when I introduced the element of singing it to my mom I think it translated across the board. I think everybody has someone they miss who might have passed, or even didn’t pass, but they still feel that way.
On whether he was eliminated just as he was hitting his stride:
I did feel very comfortable on stage and I think one of the reasons why was that I was kind of hitting my stride partly and then partly because I knew I might be going home. I think there was a learning curve there and I got through that because I explained I was used to playing guitar and singing and also singing my own songs — I hadn’t done covers in ten years — so there was a little learning curve in feeling at ease with someone else’s song and I think I was hitting my stride at that point.
On working with Nicole Scherzinger as his mentor:
Somehow we related and I could understand where she was coming from. It was a lot different to having a producer or somebody else mentor me. At first I didn’t know how that would work, because I was thinking of Simon mentoring me, actually, but with Nicole we got on famously. She had a way of being organic with her ideas on how I should be me and how I could translate that to viewers and cameras and the audience. I was coming from a background of playing guitar and singing so I could hide behind my guitar as a singer-songwriter, I wasn’t used to having a mic and just standing up there. That’s the gap we had to bridge.
On the best piece of advice he received from the judges:
I think the best thing I received was from Nicole who said to just be myself. I thought I was being myself but I think I was holding back because I was going from having a guitar and being a singer-songwriter to singing someone else’s songs and feeling completely comfortable with that. When it finally sank in that I could be myself and I got comfortable with it, it was near the end! I had a great time either way but I think I was just turning the corner in getting really, really comfortable.
On whether he thinks being an amateur should be a prerequisite for the show:
No, I don’t. That was the reason why I auditioned. It didn’t matter that you had a background and a lot of people did have experience, some of the kids hadn’t but some of the younger people did. I don’t think that was a prerequisite. If they had done that I wouldn’t be on the show, half the people wouldn’t have been on the show. I like the fact they opened it to other people. You don’t find somebody who is 40 or 50 or 60 years old all of a sudden singing at that level with no experience. I think that’s what attracted the audience that it did. It made people over 21, over 30 really pay attention and they felt more involved.
On whether he worried that voters on these shows are usually young:
I knew going in it would be that way, that was just a fact of life, but I also knew there was a big untapped audience out there of 25 to 60 year olds who a lot of the time wouldn’t be engaged in a show like this. I think that is what happened with me being there and the overs.
On which performances would best represent a LeRoy Bell album:
I would say the U2 song “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Beatles. I would also say the Sarah McLachlan song “Angel,” but I might do it a little bit differently if it was mine.
(Images courtesy of FOX)