For 17-year-old actor and musician Trevor Douglas, performing on stage is something that comes naturally. It’s a passion that he developed at a young age in Fort Worth, TX, thanks to his mother who made it her mission to ensure that her children got the fine arts training that she never got. With his natural talent and his fine arts training, it’s no wonder that Trevor became one of the top 12 guys on American Idol XIV. On American Idol, he delivered performances that were not only unique and fun but riddled with versatility, giving listeners a glimpse at what a promising artist he is. Post-American Idol, Trevor is keeping the dream alive, touring all over the US and doing preshows for artists such as The Jonas Brothers, Hunter Hayes and Ringo Starr. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with this talented young artist about what it was like being on American Idol, how he’s grown as an artist and what his plans are for the future. Check it out below!
What inspired you to pursue music?
My brothers and sisters have always been involved in music when they were younger. My mom never got any arts training when she was a kid so she tried to make sure that her kids got some. And so, my brothers and sisters did it so it just kind of seemed normal to me like, “Oh, they do it. It’s what everybody does, right? I’ll do it, too!” And I never really learned about stage fright or stuff like that because everybody does it, right? Guess not; I learned later! And then after I did it some more, someone told me that I could make it my career, and I was like, “What? You could make a living out of this?” And it just kind of kept going!
Who are some of your musical idols?
It would definitely be Daft Punk because I do a lot of loop pedal stuff. Or Allen Stone, Ed Sheeran, Eric Hutchinson…oh, and John Mayer! Those are some pretty cool people.
What’s your favorite John Mayer song?
Oh my gosh, that’s really hard! There’re so many good ones! I do really, really love his cover of Beyonce’s XO. When I heard it, I was like, “Beyonce, you’re amazing and doing really good right now, but I think John Mayer just did your song better than you!” I mean, she’s really good and doing really well for herself but John Mayer just made it sound so amazing. But, that’s not his song. “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” is really good, as is on his newer album, “Dear Marie.”
Yeah, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” is my favorite one.
I want to try busting my electric guitar out some time and cover that one! I think it’d be really cool because of the harmony, too. I think it’d be really awesome.
So, what do you enjoy the most about performing live?
That would be one of two things: either being about to use my loop pedal, because then I don’t have to take a full band or practice with them or potentially breaking up with them; or, being able to involve the audience. So, it would be one of those two things.
What was it like being on American Idol?
So, the way that I usually describe that experience to people is…you know when you hit puberty? And everything is changing really fast and everything is really weird, and you’re growing, you know? And everything is changing but it’s good. I like to describe American Idol as a musical puberty, like I hit my musical puberty on that show. I kind of had all these fans and stuff and it was awesome and I was like, “Oh my gosh, it’s so cool to have all of these fans!” And at the same time, I was starting to figure out who I was as an artist, but it was like, “What do I do with all of this stuff that I have now?” Does that make sense? I used to call it musical steroids but then someone made the analogy that steroids wear off and I didn’t want to make it sound like it was going to go away, so I stopped using musical steroids (laughs). And there’s a lot of bad side-effects with steroids, so there was that.
Is there a song that you would’ve loved to have covered on American Idol but didn’t get the chance to?
Probably….an original would’ve been really cool. Anything with my loop pedal. That’s actually what I was about to do on the show before I got cut. I have a funny story about that, actually. So, it was Motown week and I had this really cool song prepared to show my versatility—I didn’t get to do that—but the next week was going to be a What Brought You Here week, where you do your audition song, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is gonna be so awesome! I’m gonna do mine with my loop pedal!” And I asked the guy, “Can I use my loop pedal? I think it’d be really fun and I’d be the first person to ever do it and it would really help me out” and he was like, “Oh, I’ll check.” So, they hadn’t gotten back to me yet by the night of the show, and then I get cut, and then I’m sitting there waiting for the bus to take me back to the hotel by the airport, and the guy walks up to me and says, “So, uh, on the bright side, you can use your loop pedal!” But yeah, it would’ve been nice to use my loop pedal, especially for that song, or…I don’t remember which week it was for but I had a cover ready of “Wayfaring Stranger” and it was a completely acapella cover. It was kind of a cover of a cover but I re-did it to suit my voice.
What is the best advice that you got from the judges and mentors on the show?
I didn’t get much advice. There were some people whose coaches gave them advice but mine didn’t. I don’t know. But one thing that I learned, not really from the judges and the mentors, is how unimportant that your voice is in the whole scheme of everything. It’s important in that there is almost a par like “You have to be this good to be on the show” and then after that, it’s just personality, how you look, how you sound. Does that make sense?
So how would you say that experience changed you as an artist?
It definitely put me on a track where I know who I am to an extent, and how I’m different from everybody else. Being on that show, that’s the main thing: you have to find out who you are so that you’re not being compared to one of the other artists. So it kind of helped me find my own niche as an artist.
If you had to choose own of your own songs to represent you as an artist, what would it be and why?
Well, I only have three original songs out publicly, and it probably would not be any of those; those are kind of old, to be honest, and I feel like I have better ones. But I have two out now. One is called “No Love to Spend.” I do these two at my shows. “No Love to Spend” is really cool because I think it has some really good lyrics and a really cool chord progression. I came up with that song the way that I come up with my better songs, in that I had a really awesome chord progression and a melody but I don’t know what I want to write about, and then something happens in my life and I’ll be like “Oh my gosh, I know what I can write about!” And then I write for that song. So, other than that, I have a really cool one called “Like No One is Listening,” and that one has some great metaphors in the lyrics.
Are you currently working on a new album or EP?
I am! I’m recording the songs I just mentioned. I have three new ones completed and am working on a couple of more. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the new songs.
What do you enjoy the most about that whole process of putting together a recorded album or EP?
It’s a big challenge because I’m always solo when I do shows, and I’m usually on the guitar, so I don’t want to go so full that when people hear me live, they’re like “Ugh, I don’t like that.” So that is the big, fun challenge: trying to figure out how to make it sound good, full, but not so much so that it sounds empty when I’m live.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?
Well, if Daft Punk makes another album, I’d definitely want to be on it. Or Ed Sheeran. Maybe Ed Sheeran and I could actually go in together for the Daft Punk album or something (laughs)
So, in addition to music, you’ve also started to pursue acting. What inspired you to pursue acting as well as music?
Well, I’ve actually done acting for as long as I’ve been in music—maybe a little less, since I’ve been on tour. I’ve been an actor for a really long time. I actually went to a fine arts high school—I’m still a senior, but I’m doing it online now—but I went to a fine arts school and I went there for acting, which I think was probably very beneficial for me, because you see a lot of musicians that aren’t very versatile, and they’ll be like “I need this or that in order to work” and stuff like that. And I’m like, “Dude, you’ve got to learn to be creative wherever you are as best as you can.” And I helped out a lot on stage, too, because things go wrong all the time and you just kind of have to deal with it. So, I think that was really beneficial as well.
As an actor, what would your ideal role be?
Spiderman. I wanna be Spiderman. That, or The Doctor.
On Doctor Who?
Yeah! I would love to play those characters. I’ve loved Spiderman since I was a child. I was Spiderman every year when I was a kid—one year, I even went as black Spiderman to shake it up a little bit. And then with Doctor Who—man, that would be awesome! That’s who I want to be.
So, that actually leads me to my last question: what shows bring out the nerd in you?
Well, definitely Doctor Who! Definitely! And actually, I’m trying to catch up with the new season because I travel so much and don’t really have a TV. I watched The Walking Dead for a little bit but I was watching it with a friend and I can’t quite do scary things by myself, and when they stopped wanting to watch it, I was like “Well, I guess I’m not going to be watching it, either.” But The Walking Dead was so cool! And it was so terrible because I watched it so much that I had an Asian friend that I just kept calling Glenn for some reason. I could not remember his real name; he was Glenn to me. I watched a lot of Spiderman TV shows growing up. Anything Marvel—oh, Daredevil is really good! I watch Daredevil. That’s a really cool one. What else…I’m almost finished with Family Guy; that show is so funny. I actually watched all of Futurama and American Dad. Star Wars; I’m a big Star Wars fan. Pokeman, I loved Pokemon! I watched it a lot; there was a time where I could name all of the 150, but I can’t do that anymore because I haven’t been studying up. Ninja Turtles, and old Power Rangers, and those old Sonic the Hedgehog shows. And I think that’s it!