'Idol' exit Q&A: Katelyn Epperly on 'molding myself to be something I wasn't'

Katelyn-EpperlyThe bluesy Katelyn Epperly may have been skeptical of her chances on American Idol, but she continued to impress to judges up until her rendition of “I Feel the Earth Move,” which kept her from entering the Top 12. The 19-year-old Iowa native talked with us about her song choice, why she didn’t belong on the Idol stage and how being kicked off has given her some relief.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel this morning?
KATELYN EPPERLY: Honestly, I feel 10 times better than I thought I would. I was a little skeptical my whole life about trying out for this show. I was always urged to do it, but I always thought it was a little too mainstream for the kind of music I like to write. After last night, I was really super upset, but at the same time, after talking with the others that got cut — a lot of other extremely talented ridiculous people, especially Lilly. Lilly and I have been friends throughout this whole thing. We’ve gotten really close. We both are song writers and find each other to be credible musicians. We did a lot of talking. This is definitely just a platform for something else. It was an awesome experience and I learned more from this than I could sitting in a classroom learning stuff like I was before. I’m not upset, just motivated to go out and do more.

Since you were skeptical, were you surprised when they said your name?
I was surprised, I guess based on what I’ve delivered so far. I don’t think I’ve done anything that America tends to think is spectacular. But this is where I fall short with this audience. People, a lot of the time, want to hear super, epic, crazy notes and that’s not my style at all. I knew that going in and I was hoping that people would be interested in tone and originality, but it got me where I did to some extent. We didn’t make that top 12 cut and a lot of that sucks, but at the same time, now there’s not a label slapped on us as person from American Idol. After a while that will all fade off and hopefully I can just continue my career as me.

How would you define, if you can, your musical style?
That’s a hard thing to pinpoint. Kara had mentioned to me on the show, I have so many different things I like to do with my voice because of the different trainings I’ve gone through. I’ve done jazz, I did musical theater back in the day, I’ve done blues, I’ve been in several rock bands. So I can do a lot of stuff. I would say my roots and what I truly like to do is jazz, blues, and folk rock.

If you had consistently stuck to those genres, do you think you would’ve been sent home earlier?
Not necessarily. Being on the show, you have to pick songs that people will at least somewhat know. That’s why it was difficult for me. I know several other contestants this year, and we don’t listen to mainstream music at all really. It was a very big challenge, browsing through music and trying to find a selection of something that people would enjoy. I still stayed true to what I listen to. I listen to a a lot of classic rock so I tried to perform that in a minute-and-a-half the best way I could. That part was difficult. It’s bittersweet. It sucks to have it all when you’re so close to that cut but at that time, there’s an odd sense of relief and excitement for not being just tied to one show. The schedule is really grueling. It’s going to be nice to get some sleep tonight.

How did you feel about choosing “I Feel the Earth Move”?
My grandpa had always wanted me to perform that song. I had a lot of stuff that I wanted to — but I got worked up in not being sure and being last-minute and that probably came out in my performance. I wasn’t completely in it and when they said I looked like I didn’t care, I think, for whatever reason and it was the wrong time for me to do this, I zoned out and went into automatic performing. I’ve been doing it so long that my hands are just hitting the keys and I’m just singing the words and going through the motions. That can be my downfall, too. I’m not a diva. I don’t know how to stand on stage and just make everyone look at me. That part was difficult and it was kind of awkward playing without the keys for my last performance. But I definitely had fun and enjoyed the stage for the last time.

Do you have any regrets?
My only regret is to not get so caught up in the logistics of everything. I got really caught up in cameras. I have a very good sense of who I am, not in a cocky way. I know who I am as a person and artist. I think that this show was kind of so out of element that if felt at times that I was molding myself to be something I wasn’t during interviews, performances. Even my dad said, “I’ve noticed you’re making faces you’ve never made before,” and I’m like,”That’s because they’re telling me to look at a camera and I don’t know what to do!” That part of it is awkward and I wish I would’ve let go a little more and completely been myself, then maybe I would’ve felt a little better about it. Overall really, no regrets. I really enjoyed my time.

What can we expect from you now?
I’m not exactly sure where I’m gonna end up permanently. I’m going to stay [in L.A.] for another week; I got some friends out here. But I am going to have to go back to Iowa now because I am flat broke and need to stay with my parents. I’m definitely talking to several people that I’m friends with and other good musicians from around the United States that want to start writing and start a new project. My ultimate dream in life is to have several projects with several different musicians and to not just be Katelyn Epperly. I did [Idol] as a platform for something better. Maybe it was my time to get get cut. I’m definitely looking forward to going back in the studio, finally sitting down at a piano and writing a song. I’m excited to see whats going to come out of my writing now that I’m so inspired. It’s going to be fun. I’m kind of excited to somewhat have my life back.

More American Idol top 16 exit Q&As:
Todrick Hall on setting his sights on Glee
Lilly Scott on ‘karaoke singers being molded into a big pop star’Alex Lambert on stage fright and the song he wishes he’d have done

Photo: Frank Micelotta/Fox

Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • Mike

    Slezak could not have been more wrong intitially about her, and that is a good thing. She was definitely more than cannon fodder, and of course America got it wrong by booting her.

    • Sam

      Her hotness should have been her guarantee to stay around. Now there’s not point to watching.

  • Em

    FYI, there are several typos in this transcription … this one being the most glaring:
    “That part was difficult. It’s bittersweet. It sucks to have it all when YOUR so close to that cut but at that time”

    • James

      Grammar police, again? Geesh.

      • Siskel

        Go screw. Grammar is important.

      • Sara

        Stupid people comment on grammar…it really bugs me, I don’t need to see a really stupid comment about grammar when I obviously saw it with my own two eyes, I don’t need someone else to point it out for me.

      • Niix Starkyller

        With the rampant degradation of grammar these days, I’m fairly certain there are those who do need to see comments about it. I M NOT LOOKN 4WRD 2 DEELNG W THIS SHT 4VR.

    • Maria

      Way to stop the flow of the posts. Not the place. Stay on subject.

  • Jen

    I think she is really talented, and I am glad that she wants to keep creating music. I was looking forward to seeing her progress and become more comfortable in front of the cameras.

    • Maria

      Agreed. She actually has a song on Itunes preIdol. Search for Kately and the Bruisers.

  • Fixyourgrammar

    It’s YOU’RE, not YOUR. Words cannot express how irritated that makes me. Educated people–especially those working for MAGAZINES–should know better!

    • ger

      The only thing more annoying is when people repeat the same comment as someone else 8 minutes later.

      • Allie

        lol, so true ger. did they even read the first few posts? apparently not.

  • MC

    Very sad to see her cut. She was one of my favorites this year.

    • bigtoe

      yes she had nice hair

      • Maria

        I think her hair will go on if that’s all you’re worried about.

  • keith

    Unfortunately, I think many dismissed her initially because she’s such a pretty girl. Clearly she is bright and knows who she is. I wish she had been able to stick around. She had a darn good voice and evidently a brain to back it up.

    • Ms. K

      Yeah, she’s a smart young woman! A quadruple threat: talent, brains, confidence, beauty. I have no doubt she’ll be fine

  • melissa

    I really, really liked Katelyn on this show. She has an absolutely BEAUTIFUL voice.

    • Mike

      Yet America would rather listen to Paige Miles, Lacey Brown and Katie Stevens…

      • James

        No, the tweeners would.

      • James

        I think it’s time to block texting from the vote process.

      • Jen

        James, COMPLETELY agree.

      • Sara

        i like lacey, it was katie and paige who i was bothered with

      • Snsetblaze

        Agree with Sara.

      • Hannah86

        Yeah, I don’t have a problem with Lacey. Katie is too young and look like she records herself singing Kelly Clarkson songs in her bedroom and youtubes it. Paige I’m sick of. The judges say every week she has the best voice, which confuses me because I’ve never heard it.

      • Aaron

        I had resigned myself to Lacey making it this week, considering she delivered a better than average performance, but I was absolutely flabbergasted to see Paige make it. Simon saying she had more potential than Katelyn? Where in god’s name is this talent, because it’s never been shown on camera!!! F***ing hate Paige!

      • poetjanet

        vote for the worst picked Paige and Tim, that’s why we lost the others we liked and didn’t expect to loose.

  • glen

    Bluesy. Really? Did not get that, Not saying she was the worst of the pack last night. But I found her to be a mediocre talent and rather smug, so good riddance.

    • Jayne

      Check out her stuff on the internet and then talk Glen. You’ll see that she really isn’t the type of artist the American Idol puts out, so I can totally understand what she means by saying she was trying to act like something she’s not. She was probably just really uncomfortable…sometimes that can come off as arrogant if you don’t know the person. I don’t know Katelyn personally, but I’ve heard that she’s a very nice person…it’s too bad you probably just got the wrong impression on her!

    • Jayne

      oh…forgot to note the song I was referring to: check out “Lonely Drifter” by Katelyn and the Bruises…it’s on myspace and facebook. You’ll hear the bluesy vibe she’s referring to! I really like that song…would buy it if it was available!

  • brandy

    Ugh. I’m still bummed today about these results.

  • James

    Good to see that Katelyn’s relieved to be done with the show. Her Tuesday performance was flat. Still, I would’ve loved to see her continue on, especially over Paige after her butchery Tuesday.

  • charlotte

    She definitely has more musicianship than Katie Stevens by a longshot! I was really shocked to hear that Katelyn and Lilly were the girls that were cut. Really shocked. Paige may have “potential” but hell if we haven’t heard it at all.

  • Jim K

    I think they should change the voting method and have America vote for the person that they want to leave not the one they want to stay. I think there are some large fan bases out there that are voting not on talent but on looks and something I can’t quite put my finger on. This might save some of the better talent that just doesn’t have the large (I’ll vote for them no matter how bad they do) fan base. Just my humble opinion.

    • Margie

      I agree. It’s too accidental the way it is now. Don’t you wish the judges’ save existed this season?

      • Snsetblaze

        If it did, it probably would have gone to Lilly for the girls and Alex for the guys but it likely would not have been used this soon.

  • Josh

    She really won me over in week 2 with The Scientist. She looked so radiant behind that piano. She should not have gone home last night!

  • tracy

    I loved her, but hate when contestants try to spin Idol in a negative light after the fact. Would she have thought she was too original for the show had she made the Top 12? The “Idol” label that she now seems opposed to being stuck with hasn’t seemed to diminish the unique talent and artistry of folks like Kelly Clarkson or Jennifer Hudson. I was so sad that she was voted off, but this interview…I don’t know, it just rubs me the wrong way.

    • Cassidy

      I don’t think she’s spinning Idol in a negative light – she’s just stating that she’s not the “type” of contestant they are looking for, obviously. I mean, she’s not a Kelly Clarkson or Jennifer Hudson. She’s more Colbie Caillat, Ray Lamontagne and Sufjan Stevens. Those people would never have done well on Idol.

      • Liam

        Then why audition? It’s not as though the AI demographic is a mystery. It’s a bit self=serving to sell the show (and the other contestants) down the river when you get the boot. I thought she was great during H-Week and really enjoyed “The Scientist”, but what she did to Carole King on Tuesday was truly criminal.

      • Snsetblaze

        I’d add Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to Cassidy’s list.

  • rosie

    At first, I wasn’t a fan and couldn’t understand why the judges chose her for the top 24. Then she sang that coldplay song and I became a HUGE fan. Sad to see you off the show. Good luck!

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