Interview with Stacie Orrico
- 2001 28 Feb
Stacie: Totally. When we were making the record and trying to decide what songs to record and what songs to put out as singles, everybody thought that Don't Look At Me was our first single. Everybody thought that that made sense for the first single, but at the same time there hasn't been too much of pop or R & B or anything in that kind of music in Christian music and so we didn't know how radio would accept it, especially since there is AC radio and CHR radio and we're trying to decide if that was the best decision. But from the beginning I think we were willing to take risks and try new things and do stuff that was kinda outside of the box and do what we felt passionate about. We put it out there, and for some reason they just really accepted it well, even though it was new and different. I was surprised and just so honored, especially being a new artist and 14 years old and this being my very first single. Just the fact that people were willing to support what I was doing was mind-boggling.
Crosswalk.com: How long have you been doing music?
Stacie: You know what, I knew nothing about the industry, had nothing to do with it until when I was 12 years old I sang in this competition. It was the first competition I had ever had done in my life, I was not trying to get into the industry at all, and ended up winning. Eddie DeGarmo signed me at ForeFront, so he didn't sign me until I was 13, but I got involved when I was 12. It's been like three years.
Crosswalk.com: Who influenced you musically?
Stacie: Well, when I was younger I would listen to a lot of the diva singers like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion and also Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald -- some of the older female singers. Now my favorite artist is Lauryn Hill. I listen to everything from country to classical to -- I love alternative music. For the last couple of months especially I've had alternative music in my CD player, and I honestly have been mostly influenced by secular artists, but musically I've really been inspired by those artists and they've kind of formed me -- at least musically and vocally.
Crosswalk.com: Did you grow up in the church? Did you sing at church?
Stacie: I did. That was actually the only place, except for school. Where I sang most of the time was church and school and in front of the bathroom mirror with the hair spray can.
Crosswalk.com: Are you looking forward to the Plus One Tour?
Stacie: I'm really looking forward to it. It's really gonna be awesome, 'cause you know it's me and Rachel Lampa and Plus One. Rachel and I, it's so funny because we both got discovered at that same competition that I was telling you about. We lived five minutes away from each other in Colorado until I moved to Nashville, but we never met until three months ago or maybe two months ago.
Crosswalk.com: So, is there any competition between you two?
Stacie: Absolutely none. I mean, really, it's been so cool. I know -- you kinda wonder, like both of us before we met each other. We both had each other's records and like each other's music and listened and we both felt like our music was so different, and some of our message was similar and some of it was very different. So it's like we can support each other in some areas and talk about the same things and really push the same things. We're also very different, but I think, even before we met, like we were going to do a show together and we were gonna see each other there and it was like, well, what's it gonna be like? Is she gonna be a snob or what's she gonna be like, I mean I didn't know what she was gonna be like or how she'd react. I was gonna be really sweet. And of course everybody was like, "Oh, you vs. Rachel Lampa." We met and, "Oh my gosh, we were like two peas in a pod." We are so similar and have so much fun, 'cause she is like the only person in the world who is my age, is a girl, is living the same life I am in Christian music, who's a Christian. We're really the only two who are like 14 and 15 years old who are really doing it. And so we meet a lot of the same people, we go around to a lot of the same stations and get to talk about it. I mean it's great and we're so excited 'cause this will be my first -- well I go out with Destiny's Child and in March and in April I'll go out with Plus One, so it's gonna be so awesome since we're all teenagers and get to do it together. It'll be awesome and I can't wait.
Crosswalk.com: So what is it like getting up in front of all those people, people who don't know you, certainly don't know that you're from a faith perspective. You're singing, "Don't look at me, look at Him." Is this scary?
Stacie: It's so different. I mean you go in front of a crowd of non-Christians or predominantly non-Christians and you don't know how they're gonna respond. It's really challenging to me 'cause I try all the time whether I'm singing to a Christians or non- Christians, not to speak Christianese and not just to say stuff that everybody's heard a million times, and really just to talk to them like I was sitting and having a conversation with my teenage friend. But, I don't realize how much of that I still do until I go and I'm speaking to non-Christians and there's so many phrases that I use, you know, that as Christians we understand but you have to just break it down. You have to make it more plain for them, and so that's been challenging and so great. They are so open and they listen and they cheer. I mean I get to talk about everything, about being real and being genuine, you know, in a world where everything can be so superficial and fake and all the way to just talking about love and loving each other well and what that is. Even saving yourself for your husband or wife, and they just sit. A lot of time during the opening acts a lot of people are still walking in and not really paying attention, but they've been so great and just come in and listen and clap and sing and dance. We're so excited that we get that opportunity.
Crosswalk.com: As a teen in the Christian Music Industry, did you feel the pressure to come out with a proactive stance in support of abstinence?
Stacie: No, not at all. This is just something that I just feel passionately about. Especially when you listen to secular music, like 90 percent of the time it's just sex, sex, sex and it's OK. So if I can make an attempt to give people an alternative, I mean I have been amazed in talking to people, non-Christian teens, about abstinence who have never even heard that - like, "Save yourself for your husband, what?" It's never even been something that's been talked about. It's like just wait until you're ready and make sure you really care about the person, 'cause I have this song Everything on my record, which is about saving myself for my husband and a love song to him and about purity. When I first got that song, it was just a love song and didn't really talk about the waiting aspect of everything, and I was passionate about getting that in and so we changed it -- I mean God has used that so much. People wanna know that they have something special for the person they're gonna spend the rest of their life with. They wanna know that there is something special that they can save just for that person and so I'm very passionate about it.
Crosswalk.com: Stacie, you know we live in a world where there are constantly comparisons and you are consistently compared to Brittney and Christina and the list goes on. Do you compare yourself to them?
Stacie: No. From the very beginning, I was like, I do not wanna be compared to them 'cause I don't even listen to that. I mean, I am such more of a rock alternative music listener than pop music. I never listen to Brittney or the Backstreet Boys and don't really even like it. It's so funny. It bothered me a lot at first; I mean I was like I don't wanna be compared to her. And the first couple of articles after I did my first couple of shows it showed pictures of me and the dancers and it was like "Christian Brittney Spears." At the same time, it's been cool 'cause so many moms have come up to me 'cause their little girls have come up to me and we've been talking, and they've said thank you so much for being a good alternative to what our little girls like to listen to. We don't have to feel like we have to sit there and listen through it and we feel comfortable with them listening to that. That is so rewarding and that makes it all worth it. They can call me whatever they want. I mean really, I wouldn't wanna be called Christian anybody, even Lauryn Hill, my favorite artist. I wouldn't wanna be called Christian Lauryn Hill. Hopefully we can do something a little different than anything that's out there. So I have been more influenced by the R&B urban side, but hopefully on the next records I'll be writing more R&B urban than so much teen pop.
Crosswalk.com: During this interview, you used the word "genuine" at least three or four times, which is fine, and it's the title of your album. Is that a key word in your life?
Stacie: Yes. Every time I use it I feel like it sounds like I'm trying to plug my record, but it has been such a challenge being 14 and already dealing with so many pressures to be real, especially when you're living under the microscope. You kinda have to be on all the time, and you'll be worn out all the time and you don't wanna do this thing. I wanna really be real with these people, and it's so easy to just be like, "Oh my gosh - life is so good and I'm a singer and I'm a ditz." It's important to try to be real with people and the whole record kind of formed when we were trying to decide what to call the record, everything just kinda seemed to circle around being genuine and being real and being who it was that God created you to be. That's been something that people have really been able to link on to and just a challenge that I've been able to give to teens, as well as me being challenged by that in my own life. People ask me, "What do you think are the biggest issues that teens are dealing with today?" Well, obviously drugs and alcohol and stuff like that are major ones, but it does all come down to people just being insecure and not feeling the love that they need and so they feel like they can't be real.
Crosswalk.com: Let me ask you another question. What do you think when you as a performer or a singer - your main competition in the pop world is coming from someone like Eminem. How can you even relate to that?
Stacie: Do you mean as far as content?
Crosswalk.com: Well, I mean, a lot of your audience is listening to Brittney Spears and they're voting Eminem the #1 male artist and her as the #1 female artist. How can you compete as a Christian artist?
Stacie: I know. That's huge. You know I have been raised in a Christian home and I am dealing with a lot of things that a lot of other teens are dealing with in the secular world. I haven't ever been involved in drugs or alcohol, and especially Eminem, with such extremes, talking about murder and horrible, demented things. That's where I just have to pray that God will let me use the simple things and balance it out. I mean, when God talks about His truth and His word, He talks about the power of that and hopefully the
power of truth itself would overcome all those horrible things that feel so heavy and so dark. And just realize that the light will consume the darkness, and there's very few of us doing this as young people and more are coming up. All the young artists I have met are doing this, and I know that God is calling. Hopefully, together, we can go and flip the crazy world upside down.
Crosswalk.com: How are your mom and dad doing with your newfound fame?
Stacie: They are doing well. I am from a big family. There are five kids, so there are seven of us, and my older brother is my tour manager. It's been so funny, because we knew nothing about the industry, and you learn quickly, but we were total industry dodos and had no idea, so we never planned on being here. My family is so supportive, and so we all moved down to Nashville and my dad has switched jobs and my
brother has given up college for a few years to go on the road with me. Obviously, a big sacrifice on my brother and sisters' part. But they are doing well. Thank you for asking.
Crosswalk.com: Do you go to school?
Stacie: I am home-schooled. Last year was my first year. It was good. I mean when I was in school I was very social and played sports and did the plays and was all-academic and on the worship team and social clubs ... It's been so great. I would definitely still be in school if I wasn't in the industry, but it's a lot easier to make my own schedule and get stuff done when I need to.