“ILY.” is the newest new single by American Idol season 7 star David Hernandez. The song was released with a music video starting Benji Schwimmer from So You Think You Can Dance. In the video, Benji plays David’s embattled love interest and trans actress Alexa Abraxas plays the role of their therapist. The video is available now at youtu.be/06twvG00Ij4.
David Hernandez was diligent about ensuring that “ILY.” was not pronoun specific. The initial pre-chorus was written as “I wouldn’t be the man I am if it weren’t for you.” David changed the line to “I wouldn’t be who I am, if it weren’t for you” so that everyone can identify with the song’s message.
David recently discussed his career via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first realize that you wanted to be a music artist?
David Hernandez (DH): I was about six years old when I did my first musical. I think that’s when the bug bit me. I really enjoyed being on stage and I found that music was a great outlet for me
MM: How did you get on “American Idol” and what was that experience like?
DH: I actually parted ways with my record label prior to auditioning for “American Idol.” I have never really thought about it but my manager at the time encouraged me to audition. I really didn’t think I would make it that far. But I drove to San Diego and auditioned at QUALCOMM stadium. The rest was history. Obviously in retrospect, it was life-changing.
MM: How has your style and sound evolved since then?
DH: It’s drastically changed. I still have my R&B stylistic runs but, I’ve learned to sing more from the heart and ditch a lot of the acrobatics. I think the most important thing to remember as a singer is to deliver the message. I definitely would consider myself more of a pop artist nowadays. I write really strong and catchy hooks. My writing style has improved and I think that just comes with experience and in working with the right people. Another part of that is being comfortable in my own skin and being able to share my story authentically.
MM: What typically comes to you first, the lyrics of a song or it’s melody?
DH: For me, it’s usually the melody and a few words. And then I sit down and strategically map out how I want the song to go. The ideas come to me randomly throughout the day and sometimes in the middle of a dinner or meeting. I typically record my ideas on the voice notes on my phone and then go back to it later.
MM: What gave you the idea for “ILY”?
DH: It literally came to me one day after hearing a song by Lewis Capaldi. His songs are just so melodic and his voice is raspy and powerful and I wanted to capture something similar like that for “I love you” but in my own way and style. Also, I feel like I don’t tell the people I love in my life that I love them enough. I think the day just gets away from us and then the weeks and then the months and the years. People come and go and often times you’re left with regret for not telling them how you feel in the moment. That’s the place that the song really came from.
MM: What is your favorite lyric in “ILY.?”
DH: “I’m crazy, I change my mind I go back-and-forth up-and-down all the time” because, quite literally, that is me. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a Gemini and that I do have a few different sides to me. I think it takes a really special person to be my partner. I also tour a lot and I’m hardly ever home so having trust and confidence is definitely needed if you want to date me.
MM: What inspired the theme of the music video?
DH: I sat down with my best friend, James, for lunch one day. We had a couple of Aperol spritzers. We started throwing ideas around about dancing. I’m not a dancer but I’ve always been fascinated by contemporary work. I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate some of that in the video. Initially, I considered hiring two dancers to tell the story for me but I decided that I wanted to give dancing a try. I’ve always learned that stepping out of my comfort zone yields great rewards.
MM: How did you get Benji and Alexa on board?
DH: My very good friend, the musician Brady Kerr, suggested Benji. He has known him since he was a kid. Years ago, I was on a tour called “Ballroom with a Twist “where I performed alongside Benji’s sister Lacey. I didn’t know that one day I would eventually end up working with her brother! He’s honestly the most incredible dancer and a very patient teacher. Obviously, he’s a professional dancer but he choreographed the movements in such a way that really highlighted my strengths. As far as Alexa, she happened to be a good friend of my videographer, Arno Diem. I wanted to highlight a trans actress because I think it’s important to normalize trans people in a professional working environment. Arno put us in touch and we’re really good friends today.
MM: What has been the best thing about working in the music industry so far?
DH: Well, I’m not typically a huge fan of the industry. But I will say that music has connected me to a lot of incredible people throughout my life and really opened up my heart. Music is a universal language. I think it’s so stunning the way that it impacts people’s minds, influences their choices and changes their hearts for the better.
MM: What projects are coming up for you next?
DH: I’m finishing up my next single and I have a few shows lined up. I’m excited to get back to touring! I’d love to create another music video for the upcoming single, but “ILY.” is so important to me that I’m going to give it some time to catch fire and hit the mainstream. Thanks for the love!
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