Local singer-songwriter Lindsey Wall doesn’t remember much about her recent American Idol audition.
“I blacked out a little bit. I was just so overwhelmed,” Wall says. “There was so much excitement leading up to it, and I realized that I’m just a small-town girl a little bit. It was unreal to be in that position. I’ve watched the show so many times. It all hit me when I stood in front of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.”
The whole process has been surprising. Three months before she got her audition, Wall got an email out of nowhere from someone claiming to be from American Idol. She never imagined herself on the show, even though she was a fan. It was hard to take seriously.
“At first I thought it was spam, because I was like, American Idol? That’s crazy,” Wall says. “I started reading further, and she was talking about how she heard a song of mine called ‘Honey.’ I just wrote that song in my bedroom by myself, and somebody in the music industry is taken by it. That was so cool.”
Some of Wall’s initial shock at being contacted by a show that focuses on singing had to do with the fact that Wall never considered herself a professional singer. She always sang around the house and had written songs since she was a child, but she’d never taken voice or guitar lessons. Being on a singing competition show seemed out of her reach.
“I was so excited, and so humbled. Of course I would take that opportunity if it’s there,” Wall says. “I never really practiced the art of singing that much. But getting that email made me start to practice more.”
“Honey”—which, it turns out, the woman from American Idol heard on Spotify—is a moody, psych-pop original that’s sprinkled with Americana elements. It’s driven with a heavy dose of emotion and builds from a gentle ballad to a ’70s AM-radio pop-rocker.
“One of my first really strong influences was Stevie Nicks. As far as songwriting goes, I was always inspired by her lyrics,” Wall says. “One of the reasons I resonate so strong with her is because she never took any lessons either. It was just her creating her own sound. I love how authentic her writing is.”
Wall had only recorded “Honey” a few months earlier. She dropped out of college in 2016 to pursue music, because she found herself thinking about music when she was supposed to be focusing on her school work. At the beginning of 2018, she created a Kickstarter for what was to be her debut EP, which managed to raise over $2,000. She recorded the songs at a San Jose studio in late 2017, and with the Kickstarter funds, she was able to release the music in February 2018. Kickstarter backers got the whole 5-song EP (and you can get them at shows), but she only uploaded a couple of songs online—“Honey” being one of them.
“I just wanted to pick my favorites, since it was the first time I released an album to the public,” Wall says.
Once she realized that her American Idol audition was very much a real opportunity, she devoted as much time as she could to improving her skills. She even took some time away from work and left Santa Cruz to travel and do some open mics.
She got the call while she was in Nashville that she could audition—but instead of L.A., the logical choice, she needed to fly to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
She’s very happy with her audition, which didn’t air. She got three “yes” votes, meaning she’s going forward to the next stage in Hollywood. Regardless of how far she gets on Idol, it’s already been significant to her.
“I’m very inspired to keep growing and going,” Wall says. “I’m almost halfway through writing for an album. Hopefully it’ll be a full album this time. I’m playing with this new guitar player Paul Kannapolis. We’re trying to get ready to book a tour. I’m really excited about that. I feel like it’ll be a whole new game of playing outside of Santa Cruz.”
Lindsey Wall performs at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26, at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz. Free. 425-4900.