Editor’s note: Tristan Bushman was the winner of the 2015 Youth Charity Jam of the Rockford Area Music Industry. “I knew he was going places; he’s an excellent musician,” said RAMI Chairman Dan Eisman.
By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interview: Hey Tristan! First of all, congratulations on being an American Idol contestant and making it to Hollywood. Take us quickly through the American Idol audition process if you would.
Tristan Bushman: It is quite the process, but they definitely don’t just throw you up there in front of the celebrity judges. There are two-three auditions you have to go through to get to that point. I auditioned over Skype for my first audition, which was in front of executive producers. From there I got the news I made the cut and would be auditioning in San Francisco. So a few weeks later I was in San Francisco auditioning in front of the executive producers in person. I made that cut, and later that day I was auditioning in front of Keith, Jennifer and Harry. It’s definitely a nerve racking day, and you see and feel a lot of emotions, but it’s an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life!
RRI: On television you see hundreds of people waiting in line for the open call auditions. I wonder how many of them actually make it through the door.
TB: Yeah, like I said, my first audition was on Skype, so I kind of got to skip the open call. I have tried out in an open call setting before and it is insane, I would estimate 200-300 people were in San Francisco the day I tried out. There had been quite a few cuts by that point too, it just goes to show that there is so much talent all over the world that people have never heard. One of my favorite parts of auditioning is meeting new people and making connections. I will keep in touch with many of these people long after the Idol experience is over.
RRI: Okay, so eventually you were picked to go to Hollywood for an audition in front of Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., were you nervous at all?
TB: I auditioned in front of J. Lo, Keith, and Harry in San Fran the first time, and that is where I got the golden ticket! I was definitely nervous but it was such a long day, I was just ready to go in there and do it. Once I started singing I just got in my zone and started feeling my song. You have to try and forget that you are performing for three of the biggest stars in the industry; just go in and do your thing.
RRI: Were you able to do any sightseeing in your audition travels or wasn’t there enough time for that?
TB: Yes, I definitely got to do some sightseeing. My family was with me in San Francisco, so it was really nice to go out and see the sights with them. I had been to Los Angeles in 2013 for an audition for a different show, but didn’t get to leave the hotel. So to get to actually go out and explore was awesome.
RRI: How old were you when you first realized you could sing?
TB: Music was always around my house, so I picked up on singing pretty quick. I would say around the age of 5 I started performing with my dad’s band The Louie’s and singing in front of people. I actually released a CD when I was 6 of me singing Avril Lavigne’s Complicated. Obviously my voice has changed a little bit since then, so it is fun to listen to that CD and get a few laughs.
RRI: You live in Ashton just south of us here in Rockford. Are you involved in a band? Tell us what you do for fun.
TB: I jam with a few local musicians every so often, and I love to do that stuff. It just doesn’t make much sense for me right now to play in a band. With school and everything, it is easier for me just to practice whenever I have time without coordinating with anyone else. I have also just always appreciated the art of playing a song, with just a guitar and my voice. That’s how it started, when the song was written, and that’s how it gets performed.
RRI: You’re a Freshman at Sauk Valley College. Are you sort of a big deal on campus now? Be honest.
TB: The first week back I had quite a few people coming up and congratulating me, which was really cool. It’s nice to know my fellow classmates have heard about it, and hopefully I will see them at some of my shows in the future.
RRI: Who is your favorite musical artist or band of all time?
TB: This is definitely the hardest question. I would have to go with Ed Sheeran, especially right now. He is just incredible; to see a singer/songwriter be able to do what he is doing is great.
RRI: Favorite fast food?
TB: I’ve got to go with Jimmy Johns.
RRI: Favorite past Idol contestant?
TB: Phillip Phillips, he is an artist I can kind of compare myself too. I am a big fan of his music.
RRI: When will we be able to see you on television or is that still up in the air?
TB: That is still up in the air. They don’t tell us ahead of time if we will be shown, so I am watching and hoping to be shown just like the rest of you! I guess we will find out as the season continues. Keep tuning in Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. on FOX.