David Hernandez chats with HOLR about his time on American Idol and his latest EP, “Don’t @ Me.”
Meet David Hernandez. The talented artist landed a spot as a Top 12 American Idol finalist in the seventh season of the FOX series in 2008, and, since then, he has been taking the music industry by storm!
Today, HOLR is chatting with David to learn all about his passion for music, his experience on American Idol, and his newly released EP, “Don’t @ Me”.
Talk to us about how you discovered your passion for music.
That went back to when I was a little kid. I was like 6 years old walking around singing along to vinyl records my mom used to spin- not sure if any millennials out there know what a vinyl record is-but maybe they’re coming back! I got a very eclectic taste for music as a young kid. That’s essentially when the musical bug bit me!
I wanted to do musical theatre and my grandfather put me in my first musical. And since then I loved being on stage and performing.
As a talented artist, you landed a spot as a Top 12 American Idol finalist in the seventh season of the FOX series back in 2008. Can you tell us about this experience?
Basically, I had just gotten out of a contract with my record label and my manager at the time told me I should audition for American Idol. At first, I was reluctant to pursue anything else but then I did it anyway. I flew to San Diego and there were 20,000 people there. I waited in line for 18 hours and since my best friend was with me we took turns waiting in line and going back to the car to take 30-minute naps or have snacks.
It was definitely a production and I kept coming back to do auditions. There were so many different layers of auditions and I finally made it to Hollywood week. After that, it was “Top 24”, “Top 16, “, and “Top 12.” This was pretty major for a little Latin boy from Phoenix, Arizona who grew up pretty poor middle class.
I will say that it was like boot camp for singers. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. We slept minimally, we ate minimally, and we were always doing for the show. It actually sets you up for what’s to come later in the industry.
I still talk to Michael Orland- my old vocal coach. We actually wrote a song for Carrie Underwood that’s still being pitched. I love being behind the scenes and I’ve learned a lot. I learned how to produce myself during the pandemic and I’ve been writing for film and television.
All of the friendships I created over this experience have lasted me over a decade. I’m always grateful for American Idol for giving me a footing in this career path.
Prior to your success on American Idol, you were also part of a singing group called “Vinyl Four.” What was that like and how did the experience contribute to your musical journey?
Before I joined that quartet I hadn’t really done much in my musical career besides musicals. I saw an ad about an acapella group that would get to be on a cruise ship and thought this was a great opportunity to get more experience and travel. So I auditioned and got cast as the lead vocalist.
However, at the time, I didn’t really know how to do harmonies. I was relatively untrained but I met my best friend in the process. We were on the cruise ship for about 6 months and visited places such as the Mexican Riviera, Canada, and Alaska.
This was such a growing experience because I learned to blend and do harmonies. We came up with the name Vinyl Four because there were four of us and I grew up on vinyl records.
I got to meet so many people on the boat from so many walks of life and I fell in love with travelling and singing all over again.
When I got off the boat, that’s when I got my first record deal and American Idol.
Through this journey, I learned that I could harmonize, blend with other people and write music. I learned that I could also share a cabin with 2 other people for 6 months- which I would never do again!
What can listeners expect from your new EP, “Don’t @ Me” which was released earlier this year?
I just wrapped my EP “Don’t @ Me” which was a clap back at the negativity I have experienced that I have never been able to fully dive into since I was either too afraid or didn’t have the confidence to fully speak to my story. This is one of my favourite bodies of work to date. It’s super personal and I got to talk about some of the shaming that went on when I was on American Idol in terms of my sexuality and my former career.
There’s a song on this album that touches on men’s mental health- and mental health in general- called “When It Rains It Pours.” It talks about the weather in your mind and touches on the pandemic, which has been such a roller coaster for so many people that have struggled with mental health- myself included. Especially- for me- being cooped up and not being able to express myself on stage, or hug people.
I wanted to write about that because I feel like even though we have come a long way in today’s society, men still aren’t allowed some of the vulnerable aspects of themselves or the emotional connection like women are. As a result, I really wanted to be vulnerable in the album.