Erika Van Pelt, a Top 10 Finalist on the 2012 season of American Idol, took some time to speak with Type 3 Media’s Kristen Pierson during her American Idol Live tour stop in Providence, Rhode Island.
Type 3 Media: How does it feel coming back to Rhode Island to play for the hometown crowd?
Erika Van Pelt: It’s amazing. I’ve waited all summer for this. I’m the last one, this is the last hometown show for all 10 of us. This happens to be mine. I’ve waited so long to get back to New England. I’ve been gone since the beginning of June. I feel like a lot of hard work has come to this point so I’m very very excited.
Type 3 Media: You’ve been touring almost non-stop all summer; are you planning to take a break when you come home?
Erika Van Pelt: No, I don’t have it in me to take breaks. When I got eliminated from the show back in March, because of contractual obligations I wasn’t able to work until we came back out for the finale and then the tour. That was the most boring month-and-a-half of my life because I wasn’t allowed to work. I’ve always worked since I could. I started babysitting and cleaning houses when I was twelve years-old. So, maybe a couple days to hang, sleep, relax, and then I’m going to get right back to work.
Type 3 Media: Do you think there’s anything that will change when you get back, maybe a different reaction toward you because of your celebrity status?
Erika Van Pelt:I hope that if there is that it’s a good one and that it’s for positive things. I’d love to get more involved in Rhode Island charities now that I have a little bit of notoriety associated with my name. Rhode Island doesn’t always get the notoriety for positive things. This is my home and I love it so much. Whatever I can do to bring more positive light to Little Rhody, I’ll do whatever I can.
Type 3 Media: So once the tour wraps up, what’s next for you?
Erika Van Pelt: Recording, hopefully. I’m taking things one step at a time right now. I don’t have any management or label contracts yet, but I’ve always sort of worked on my own to get where I am. I started my business and all that other stuff, so I have no problem putting in the work myself. So, if I have to fund my own record, that’s what I’m going to do.
Type 3 Media: What has been the most memorable moment of the tour so far?
Erika Van Pelt: There have been a few actually. It’s been a compilation of seeing all the different cities. Like when we went to Minneapolis, I got to go to the Mall of America, which is a fun novelty kind of thing. I spent a lot of time in Seattle and got to see a lot in Pittsburgh. It’s just one of those things, we try on our days off to go see things. For me, that’s been a highlight. Being from the East Coast, I’ve never lived outside of New England, so to be able to see the rest of the country like that has been really cool.
Type 3 Media: Have you taken any of your tour-mates out to sample the local cuisine?
Erika Van Pelt: I didn’t get to the quahogs, but I took Skyla out to get Del’s a couple days ago. We actually had two days off in Cambridge and dove down and brought her with me. We went to go get Del’s lemonade, I told her she had to have it, and of course she loved it. Who wouldn’t? I loved it and I needed it. Going an entire summer without Del’s just wasn’t OK for me.
Type 3 Media: What flavor do you like?
Erika Van Pelt: I like the original. I tried a bit of my friend’s grapefruit, which I’d never had. That was kinda yummy.
Type 3 Media: You changed your hair dramatically during the show; are you planning to make any more changes, like will you go darker again or stay blonde?
Erika Van Pelt: That’s a good question. If you look back at what my hair has done over the past 10 years, it’s gone permed, straight, long, short, dark, or light. I just keep changing it, I always do. I don’t have any other vices. I feel like I change my hair and move my furniture around, that’s what I do. I’m going to stay blonde for a little while, and I do like it short so I may keep it short again for a little while. But there’s no telling, it could be anything.
Type 3 Media: What do you feel is the most important lesson that you’ve learned from the entire American Idol experience?
Erika Van Pelt: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to stay true to myself, not just as a person, but as an artist too. It was very stressful, going through that whole competition was really daunting. I don’t like competitions as it is. I’m one of those people that doesn’t feel that art should be judged, ever, and music is an art. I felt like it went against my natural flow to even do it in the first place, but now that I have it just reminded me that I have to be 100% myself. I never wanted fame and fortune, that’s not what I was after. It’s more about substance for me. I just want to make good music, I don’t care if 10 people listen to it or 10,000. It’s important to me.