When season two of “The Voice” premieres later this year on NBC, there may very well be a Tacoma contestant to root for – the fabulous Kim Archer. On Aug. 28, she leaves for Los Angeles to start the auditioning process for the hugely popular reality show, the same one that another of Tacoma’s best and most loved performers, Vicci Martinez, lit up throughout the show’s premiere season.
“The Voice” became a breakout hit from the get-go, attracting many top-notch singers from across the country. What sets “The Voice” apart from similar shows like “American Idol” is that the judges hear the contestants before seeing them, which made for a contest based more on authentic talent. “The Voice” became considered as a more serious search for America’s best and brightest singers, and thusly the auditioning pool of contestants accentuated the music first and all else flowed from there.
This same premise will be in place for season two: celebrity judges Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton will pick which contestants advance through the contest. Then, the few contestants that make it to the finale will be judged by voting viewers, who will choose the one ultimate winner.
However, there is a rather long road to travel before contestants make it to being on the actual show. A multi-tiered auditioning process comes first, and Archer travels to L.A. on Aug. 28 for tier #1.
“I’m super anxious and I’m excited,” she said last week while enjoying lunch at one of her favorite places to both perform and dine – The Hub. “I’m confident I can make it through. I’m preparing about four different pieces so if they say ‘What else ya got?’ I’m ready to go.”
Fans can see Archer perform these four songs live for the first time during her send-off party Aug. 27 at the Tempest. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9. The $5 cover charge will go to help cover Archer’s traveling expenses. Her band – drummer Chris Tussing, bassist Jerome “Jbones” Gates and guitarist Herman Brown – will not be going with her to L.A., but they are certainly cheering for her – and they will be making beautiful music that night at the Tempest to send their frontwoman off with love and best wishes. “They’re like my family,” she said of her band mates. “I love all those guys.”
Archer said the Tempest was one of her first places to perform when she started out years ago, so she would not have her send-off party anywhere else. “It’s coming full circle – sharing with the people who were there to begin with who shared with me. I’ve built a lot of fans at the Tempest. The people there appreciate good music.
“I’m going to get my big bag, fill it full of T-Town love, and take it with me.”
She leaves the next day, and plans on being in the long audition line by 5 a.m. “I have no idea how many people have signed up, but I’d imagine there will be thousands so I want to be in that first 1,000 that gets to audition,” she said, adding that there is a lot of secrecy surrounding the second season of “The Voice,” so information is coming in bits and pieces. Archer said she would not know right away how everything is going to go. “I would think that by November-December I’ll know what’s happening.”
Archer said the four songs she chose are part of her strategy to woo the show’s audition judges. She will be given a very short time to make a big impression. “I chose them based on the opportunity to build emotion as well as showcase the range of my voice. In that minute and a half, I want to show that I can do sweet and sexy, powerful and in-your-face, and that I can also have control over making that happen.”
She sought advice from Martinez. “She’s been very encouraging. She said the thing that will make the difference is to make the song your own. Well, she and I have been doing that for a long time now. I don’t really think it’s going to feel any different than what I normally do – it just really counts this time,” Archer said.
The first audition is a capella. “You just stand there and sing.” And Archer’s audition will not be in front of the four celebrity TV judges, but rather for the show producers who are tasked with narrowing down the audition pool.
“I’ll just be prepared,” Archer said. “If there’s one thing performers learn how to do is to just roll with it.”
Archer said she had not heard of “The Voice” until the show had already begun airing last year, otherwise she would have auditioned for the first season. She auditioned once for “America’s Got Talent” but it just was not a good fit, and that she has never had any interest in “American Idol.”
“The reason I am interested in trying out for ‘The Voice’ is because it is truly about talent. If you look at the four people who were left there (the runners-up at the end of season one), they were the most talented people that we saw. People who do really have great talent are chosen first by the judges then they’re presented to American audiences for voting to choose the ultimate winner. They’ve already proven they have what it takes, and that’s the part that interests me.”
NEW CD COMING SOON
In other news, Kim Archer Band is about six months away from releasing their very first full length CD. It will have 10 tracks – eight originals and two live recordings of cover tunes that the band has made its own, including “Fly Like an Eagle” (the other one is an Etta James song Archer is keeping under wraps for now). The album is being produced by Tussing, her longtime drummer.
“We have six tracks done,” Archer revealed. “They range from good old rock/funk to ballads. People who know what I do, know that I’m about variety.”
She said spending so much time in the recording studio lately has helped her vocally, which could really pay off on “The Voice.”
“It’s forced me to learn my voice and the control of my voice a little bit more, which is good.”
The band is recording the album in analog and re-recording to digital, which makes for a warmer, almost live, sound. Instead of plugging instruments directly into digital recording devices, microphones are aimed at the instruments and used to record the sound. A lot of effort is put into how the mics are placed because a different recorded sound results depending on where the mic is pointed. “It’s well produced but not overly produced,” Archer said. “You can hear the pick on the strings.”
Once the CD is released, Kim Archer Band plans to take the show on the road and launch a regional tour. Archer is working with professional booking agencies to get into the best venues possible.
The first single from the upcoming CD has been released on iTunes. The song is called “Don’t Do It,” and Archer said it will surely have you tapping your foot and singing along (see this article at www.tacomaweekly.com for iTunes link).
Archer says the title is fitting for her current state of mind, in which she is choosing not to rest on her laurels professionally or personally. She has lost at least 50 pounds of late doing the “Insanity” workout, hill walking and eating right.
“I had a birthday not too long ago. I think I came to a kind of a crossroads in what I’m going to do with my career, with my health. I could have become complacent. I have a good gig here in Tacoma to where I can live as a fulltime musician, which is living my dream for me. In many senses I consider myself successful because I’ve achieved a lot of my goals. However, just because you reach a certain level doesn’t mean you stop. You always have to be going for that next level.
“I’m having more fun than I have in a while. I mean, I always have fun, but things are just kicked up to a higher level now.”