Photos courtesy of The Voice | NBC
The 23-year-old Westchesterite talks about his punk rock past and what it takes to perform for the music industry’s biggest legends.
Many people get understandably nervous at the prospect of a night of public karaoke. It takes a special kind of guts, however, to audition with and Ariana Grande song in front of Ariana Grande.
On this season on The Voice, that’s exactly how 23-year-old Valhalla native David Vogel immediately made a name for himself, belting out an acoustic rendition of the pop diva’s own “Breathin’” in front of her and returning judges Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Blake Shelton. Obviously, Grande snatched him up, barely able to keep from pressing her button until Vogel had finished.
We caught up with Vogel ahead of last week’s knockout competition — in which he was initially defeated but then, in a shocking turn of events, was “stolen” by judge-mentor John Legend to continue on as part of Team Legend. Here’s what he had to say:
Westchester Magazine: So, to get into it, what convinced you to try out for The Voice?
David Vogel: I grew up watching singing shows with my family. We would come together at 8 o’clock at night and we always used to watch them, and I guess I always kind of dreamed of doing it and seeing what could happen. It kind of took a backburner over the years, and then COVID happened and I kind of lost a lot of work. My creativity went down, I was kind of in like a lull, just cause like the music world stopped — I wasn’t playing shows, I wasn’t able to do too much creatively, and so my brother sent me the link to do the virtual audition and was like, “Dude, you can do this right in your bedroom, like just give it a shot.”
So, I did it and got an email and they were like, “You made it through this first round. Send in some more videos,” and one thing led to another and we’re here. I still can’t believe it honestly, but I’m very grateful!
WM: Auditioning with an Ariana Grande song in front of Ariana Grande…That was a pretty ballsy choice. Were you nervous that could’ve backfired?
DV: For sure, I think that it could’ve been two ways that it could’ve gone, right? It could’ve been received very well and she would’ve loved it and everyone would’ve loved it, or it would’ve been like, “Why did you sing my song and why did you change it?” But I was willing to take that risk and see what could happen because, obviously, I think she’s a great artist and I admire her and her music, but I knew I couldn’t do it the same way she does it. I couldn’t sing it the same way she does. So, I was like, “I’m just going to put my twist on it, do my thing, and we’ll hope that she turns. It worked out and I’m grateful.
WM: You definitely gave it a little more of a rock & roll edge and you absolutely crushed your guitar battle with Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” Is that something that you’re actively trying to showcase this season or is it something innate to how you perform?
DV: I don’t really know what I envisioned coming into the whole competition. I didn’t think like, “Yeah, I’m gonna do punk rock or singer-songwriter,” and all that stuff. I think it just depends on the song choice, and where we’re at in the competition.
I knew I wanted to bring my artistry to the show, which is bits of the rock and indie pop stuff, alternative. I grew up on like emo and punk music, pop punk music, so I knew it had to make its way in in little bits. So, the “Sugar We’re Goin Down” song was a perfect fit and I felt really comfortable with that. Obviously, “Breathin’” was a little outside of my comfort zone, but I had to put a little edge on it, make it a little more rocky.
This next performance is going to be really different, which I’m excited for, because that’s where I actually started in music: me and an acoustic guitar, singing a sad love song, just being super vulnerable. I connect to all three of those genres, which is really great and I’m excited for tonight.
WM: It almost feels a little bit more like your band, JADN. You guys dropped a significant number of tracks in the last year or so. Can you tell us a little about what’s the same, what’s different there compared to a national singing competition right now?
DV: In 2018, me and my brother started writing a song together. It was the first song we ever wrote together. We both grew up doing music, but we never just kind of…got there, to be able to write together and create original music. It just kind of happened that we started writing the song at like three in the morning one night over Christmas break and we were like, “This is really good, we should see what comes out of it.”
Eventually we were like, “Wow, we should totally put this out.” We reached out to a couple of our close friends and we were like, “Hey, you guys wanna make a band and put this kind of music out?” and they were like, “yeah,” so, we finished that song and made a music video for it. We released it in August of 2018.
From there, we were like, “This feels right. This feels really good. Let’s continue to do this.” I had been writing more in my life than ever, so I had a little bit of a discography. Our bandmate, Nick, also had been writing and had some songs. We kind of all joined forces and brought some songs to the table and rewrote and made it fit the genre that we were kind of vibing with. So, 2019 came around, we had been working on stuff for a while, we had released our album, called “City Skies,” and then we started gigging like crazy, man. We played New York City. We played PA. We played small places. We played some bigger shows, opening for some cool people.
And then, obviously, 2020 came, so that all stopped, but we were able to just work on recording more music for the future. We actually went to South Carolina and stayed on our friends’ farm and recorded our entire album on just like a beautiful farm with horses right out our door, and it was an amazing, amazing time. Just to — during 2020, kind of a very tough year for all of us — to get away for a bit, reevaluate some things, write, and it was a great time.
So, now we’re here and we’re doing this, but we’re still doing the band and I’ve been writing a lot more for them, but going from playing New York City gigs to The Voice stage is very different, but I feel like it’s giving me clarity on how it can be, you know? Starting playing in front of 100 people versus national television, it’s really cool.
WM: Alright, last question, and it’s the one we’re sure all our readers have been asking: Without endorsing anyone in particular, what shampoo do you use?
DV: (Laughing) I honestly don’t even know the brand, but all I know is that it has to have like argan oil and like biotin and all these like things that make it smooth and silky and lovely. I don’t know the brand, I can’t give you it!
WM: David, thank you so much. Where can our readers find more of you online?
Westchester Magazine readers can root for David Vogel on this season of The Voice, airing Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 pm. EST on NBC.