Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brooke White Shares the Secret to Writing a Good Song And Much More

You never know what you’re going to get when it comes to artist interviews. In all honesty, sometimes they just don’t go very well…

But season seven finalist Brooke White is the kind of person I could talk to for hours about just about anything. I discovered this within the first minute of our interview when she started questioning me about my dislike of peanut butter…

Eventually we did get around to talking about her new CD, “High Hopes & Heartbreak.” And, of course, we talked about “American Idol”…

“Hopes” is already doing well on iTunes, which has Brooke feeling relieved. “It was such a personal process making this record. It’s like putting your babies out there.”

The process started as soon as Brooke finished the Idols Live Tour. Brooke admitted there was some pressure to get an album completed quickly after “Idol,” but there were pressures from other sources as well—namely her. “I was really motivated by myself. The first thing, I got back to songwriting. After the show and after the tour, you’re kind of depleted. But you’re also so full with so many things to write about. [The album] was pretty much finished by the end of April. It went really fast, but it was really rewarding and super fun.”

I was almost embarrassed to hear myself tell Brooke she should be really proud of the album, but she didn’t mind. “It’s a regular reoccurrence to second guess yourself. It’s that slight bit of that insecurity. So it’s always great to hear people say they enjoy it.”

So how does Brooke describe the album? “It is a bit of a throwback. It’s a singer/songwriter album…It has an organic tone.” Brooke also described it as “adventure music,” meaning that the album is not restricted to one particular sound. “It has singer/songwriter songs, some turned out more California country…There’s a disco song…It’s got a little bit of it all. Yet, somehow, the album has a cohesiveness to it.”

Ask Brooke to choose her favorite track from the CD, and it’s a little like asking a mother to choose between her children. “I’m so close to it at this point. I would kind of cling to songs as they were happening. Right now I’m revisiting ‘Out of the Ashes.’ It’s particularly meaningful. ‘Sometimes Love’ is another one. It’s hard to choose. I go through different phases where I reconnect with each of them in different ways…I’m not good at the favorite games.”

One of my favorite tracks on the CD is Brooke’s cover of the Kings of Leon song, “Use Somebody.” So I asked her how it ended up on her CD. “It’s one of my favorite songs of the year. The song itself, the structure itself is great. It’s got great bones. It’s just like putting different clothes on it. It’s a different spin on it. Covers are tricky, but I really love how it turned out.”

There’s no doubt that Brooke is most passionate when she’s talking about her music, but she’s not ashamed to talk about the show that introduced her to America. “‘American Idol’ is a household name. I’m really glad to be associated with it. Of course I want to expand on that. At the end of the day, that’s the opportunity that launched my career. But it’s not solely who I am as a person and an artist.”

However, Brooke told me that she has no intention of running away from her “Idol” past and people still ask her about the show. Among the most popular questions she gets are whether she’s still a nanny and if she’s looking for a job as a nanny. But people also still ask her about her most famous moment on the show—when she started over in the middle of her performance of “You Must Love Me” during Andrew Lloyd Webber week. “I can laugh about it at this point,” she told me. “It was not funny at the time.”

Brooke said people also ask her about playing piano with no shoes and they’ve told her how sorry they are she missed her sister’s wedding. Complete strangers knowing so much about her was not something Brooke was expecting. “Once you get out of the Idol bubble…It was so overwhelming. It’s weird, but not in a bad way.”

Right now, Brooke is preparing to share her music with her fans by going on the road. Word had spread on the Internet that Brooke will be touring with fellow season seven “Idol” finalist Michael Johns, but Brooke says they’re actually still working out the details. She did promise me, however, that a tour will “definitely happen.” And she’s really looking forward to it. “When people are singing your songs with you. That’s when it’s unreal.”

When I mention that I can hear everyone singing along to “California Song” in my head because of the great “na na nas” in it, Brooke gave me the secret to writing a good song. “You put na nas in there and it’s a done deal. It’s the special sauce.” To prove her point, Brooke sings me a line of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”

I could’ve listened to Brooke sing to me all day, but I had to ask her a question about Randy Jackson, who executive produced her album and is also part of her management team. Brooke is the first “Idol” that Randy has made an album with and I asked her if that was flattering for her. “I have no good explanation for it,” she told me. “I never expected or anticipated this was how it would turn out.”

Brooke said that when Randy approached her after the Idols tour that he was “so enthusiastic” about making a singer-songwriter album. “I was kind of like wowed. And I’m very grateful.”

I couldn’t help but ask Brooke if she is getting tired of doing all of these interviews, and she told me, “Not yet.” But it’s clear that Brooke doesn’t mind having so many opportunities to talk about her music.

And if I had put together such a solid project, I would enjoy constantly talking about it too…

“High Hopes & Heartbreak” is available exclusively on iTunes now and will hit stores and all digital outlets Tuesday, July 21st. You can learn more about Brooke at her website

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try and write a song with lots of “na na nas” in it. I’ll be sure to give Brooke a co-writing credit…

Photos Credit: June Baby Records