Ahead of his show at The Crofoot in Pontiac on July 12th, singer-songwriter and The Voice winner Sawyer Fredericks joined Mitch Albom on his WJR radio show to discuss his debut album and tour. Released in May by Republic Records, A Good Storm features standouts like Take it All (his first single), Lovers Still Alone, and 4 Pockets. Get tickets to the show here.
Sawyer Fredericks Interview - July 8, 2016
Mitch and Sawyer first worked together in the creation of, “Forever Wrong,” an aching ballad and official love theme for Frankie and Aurora, protagonists of Mitch’s most recent novel, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. The song was featured on The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Musical Companion, the first soundtrack album for a book. The song was released on iTunes in October in advance of the book’s publication, and rose to the number 3 spot on iTunes top songs. Fredericks debuted the song at the November 8, 2015 charity book launch at The Fox Theatre in Detroit.
From his official bio:
His stark honesty and soulful delivery turned him into a national phenomenon during the eighth season of NBC’s Emmy Award®-winning The Voice. As part of “Team Pharrell,” he emerged as the “youngest victor in the show’s history” at just 16-years-old. Moreover, he made Voice history, becoming “the first artist to land 14 songs in the iTunes Overall Top 200 Songs Chart in one week.” All in all, his digital sales exceeded 1 million cumulative singles, making him one of the show’s most successful artists ever.
Mitch: Alright, our good friend Sawyer Frederick’s is coming to town on Tuesday July 12th, seven o’clock at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac. You can get tickets at thecrowfoot.com and he’s on the line with us right now. Hello Sawyer.
Mitch: How you been having
Sawyer: Good, how have you been?
Mitch: Have you turned eighteen yet?
Kevin: Have you gotten a haircut?
Mitch: I keep waiting for you to be legal. Still not legal. How close are you now?
Sawyer: Well my birthday’s March 31st.
Mitch: So less than a year.
Mitch: Eight months away from from being totally responsible for yourself.
Kevin: Don’t rush the boy!
Mitch: Well, you’re doing amazing things. I love your new songs and you know we had a chance to hear some of things you were working on while you were working with us on the Frankie Presto project. Now you’ve got it out in full force: the E.P. that has that single, Take it All, which we were just playing before, which is fantastic. Tell us about the process of doing that and and how it’s going so far.
Sawyer: I mean the co-writing was amazing because it was very cool to be able to share something very personal to me because I’ve always written alone. So like writing Take it All with Dan Roemer was like very very interesting just because also it was a little bit different from my normal genre. It was a little more poppy, which was kind of cool to be able to do something a little different from what I normally do.
Mitch: Right. Well I want to take credit as your first co-writer because technically I was your first co-writer. Because we went to Sawyer and I said, ‘Well, we want to do a song that’s kind of about Frankie Presto, the character of one of my books, and when he meets this girl in his life.’ And you had this song that you were all working on called Forever Wrong. And so really it was so good that we didn’t have to do a whole lot to it. But there was like one line I thought that would match up better and we made a sort of lyrical suggestion, ‘Well how about if you just change this and that so it matches some of the words,’ and you were kind enough to do it. So that was a collaboration.
Sawyer: Yeah, it was.
Kevin: He’s trying to steal Dan Roemer’s thunder. That’s what he’s doing.
Mitch: No no no no no. I didn’t get co-writing credit but that was a collaboration.
Mitch: So I like to think that I warmed you up for the other people. (Sawyer laughing) Because you said, ‘you know that wasn’t so bad. We collaborated! It wasn’t bad, it didn’t hurt.” All you had to do is change two words. I’m sure the Roemer thing was a little tougher than that.
Mitch: Now how has…and I’m going to play a little more of this. [Forever Wrong plays.] It’s such a wonderful song. It’s on the Frankie Presto soundtrack. So now when you go out and tour, I mean do people recognize a song from that? Is it a popular one in your repertoire?
Sawyer: Oh yeah. My fans love that song. It’s very popular and I perform it at almost every show.
Mitch: As well you should, because your fans have become my fans and I’ve never had as many fourteen year old book readers. [Sawyer laughing.] But I think they’re basically just scanning through my books to see if there’s any other reference to you. And they’re like, “Hey this Tuesdays with Morrie thing, is Sawyer in that? You’re a great author, is Sawyer and any of your other books?”
So I don’t know I have to try to think of a book that I can come up with the word Sawyer. Without it being Tom Sawyer and so I could just work it in because I got to tell you you have the most amazing fans. They stand by you thick and thin, and it must be great to perform for them. Because I imagine the same love that you get on the Internet is out there in concert.
Sawyer: Oh yeah definitely. I mean I love just being you know, like I used to post videos of me singing in the house and it just was so cool to be able to get something like that to my audience real quick, online. But performing for them is amazing.
Kevin: How do you feel about Tuesdays with Tom Sawyer Fredericks?
[Mitch and Sawyer laughing.]
Mitch: You know that would probably sell more than the original.
Here is, from the new major label debut album A Good Storm, this is the single, “4 Pockets.”
[4 Pockets plays]
Now when you come to Pontiac and you play at Crofoot there, how big a band are you playing with? Because I’m used to you and your guitar walking out on stage.
Sawyer: I have a guitarist and drummer and a bass player and that’s what I’m performing with.
Mitch: So did the Beatles! I mean that’s basically the Beatles configuration: two guitars a bass and drum. You’re doing well!
Sawyer: Oh yeah.
Mitch: Do you enjoy performing you know with more and more people as opposed to just the you know the thing on The Voice and standing by yourself with the guitar?
Sawyer: I think I like a both things equally just because there’s a lot of things I like about performing by myself and you get a little more freedom. But I feel like you really get into a nice groove when you’re performing with other people.
Kevin: Has Taylor Swift called you for a date yet?
Sawyer: (laughing) No.
Mitch: Yeah. He’s laughing, but I’m waiting for that, because really there’s like ten million teenage girls who are going, ‘say no. say no.” So that was the right answer.
Hold on the line we’re going take a brief break we’ll come right back. Sawyer Fredericks, our friend, is coming to Detroit, to Pontiac to be specific, on July 12th. This Tuesday, seven o’clock at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac. Right back here on 760WJR.
Mitch: We’re talking with Sawyer Frederick’s who’s coming to town here on the twelfth, Tuesday night seven o’clock at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac.
Now I know you’re on tour here now but some people who may not be familiar with your background don’t know that you actually, when you’re not you know recording, you’re living on a farm up in upstate New York. I mean I presume if you haven’t turned eighteen you’re probably still living there.
Sawyer: Oh yeah.
Mitch: Just tell everybody like what a day is like for you there versus what a day is like for you when you’re on the road or in Los Angeles recording or things like that.
Sawyer: Well the days on the farm can change by the seasons. So like during the summer I’m probably going to be doing a lot of haying during the winter I’m going to be taking care of the animals in the barn.
Mitch: And there’s never a part of you that says you know, ‘I won the voice and now
I’m pitchforking.” [Sawyer laughing.] ‘Hey, what’s matter with this picture here?’
Sawyer: Hey, I like the farm.
Mitch: OK, all right well maybe it was The Voice that seemed strange then. Probably.
Sawyer: Oh, yes, most definitely.
Mitch: Do you find that that keeps you grounded? You know, that you’re still kind of back where you are and I imagine in that town is that Fultonville, is that what it’s called where you live?
Sawyer: Well, I yeah. Yeah, I technically live in the town of Glen.
Mitch: I imagine the people there who’ve known you since you were a kid don’t treat you a whole lot different.
Kevin: The girls do!
Mitch: Hey Sawyer, come on! And do you do you prefer, I don’t know if you’re even dating, you know, at this age, but I mean do you prefer people like from your small town in the background there as opposed to people you meet after you’ve already become well-known? Because you never know, you know it’s hard to know if people are liking you. For your fame in your music or for who you are.
Sawyer: Yeah I mean I actually don’t have like a lot of friends where I live because I moved up here when I was eight years old and I was homeschooled. So I never really went to school so I didn’t make like a lot of friends. So most of my friends actually live like really far away from me.
Mitch: Oh, you’re like an airplane away from them. ‘You want to play cards tonight?’ ‘Well let me check the airplane schedule, see if I can…” That has to be difficult then I mean what do you do when you’re home.
Sawyer: I have well, I’m here with my brothers so I’ve always had them, they’re like my good friends and my cousin lives with me. I mean I basically just perform, and I used to do like farmer’s markets which was really fun for me. I live on an eighty-eight acre farm, so I got stuff to do.
Mitch: You got plenty to do, yeah. Will you still go out and like perform in the local farmer’s market just for the heck of it?
Sawyer: I actually really want to start doing that again because it’s like when I’m home like after touring that I think it might be a little like a hassle. Now that I have a bigger fan base that can’t really just sit under a canopy.
Mitch: Behind the pickles!
Sawyer: I’m going to get […?].
Mitch: Well I don’t know on the other hand you bring a lot of customers to the farmer’s market so they’ll probably like that.
Sawyer: Yeah well I want to set up some kind of like big farmer’s market thing.
Mitch: I think that’s going to be great and you know you sound every bit as delightful and down to earth as when we last saw you when you were here in town. And you did such a great job at the Fox Theatre.
Sawyer: I’ve turned into a complete diva.
Mitch: Yeah it really sounds like that. The hat, the hair, everything still in place? Still sporting the same look?
Sawyer: Not at this moment.
Mitch: Oh, no? Well, which did you lose? The hat or the hair?
Sawyer: Well, the hat is not on, and my hair is up.
Mitch: The hair is up, OK?
Kevin: Got a man bun going.
Mitch: Good to know. Maybe it’s better that this is a phone interview.
Well I really again really love your your new record. The EP was great.
Sawyer: Thank you.
Mitch: And the new album is fantastic. He just shows such enormous growth. And the fact that you’re only seventeen years old is really good news for everybody because it means you got a lot of years to go as a songwriter and performer. We look forward to seeing you when you come to town. I know you’re going to have a great crowd out there in Pontiac. And you know Detroiters are great audiences anyhow. And if you could if you could get them screaming for you at the Fox Theatre, which I’m pretty sure none of your fans generally get to go to unless they were going to like Disney on Ice when they were kids, or graduation. But they’re going to be out at the Crofoot and they’re going to enjoy seeing you. And please give my best to your mom who’s just a delightful woman.
Sawyer: Oh, I will.
Mitch: I look forward to seeing you when you get in to town.
Mitch: Alright, take care. Sawyer Fredericks our guest here on the program. Again his new debut album, A Good Storm. And he’ll be at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac seven o’clock on Tuesday night July 12th. Go out and see it.