We got a chance to sit down with Todd Kessler, contestant on NBC’s The Voice, to discuss the audition process, the pressure of competing and, of course, Cee Lo’s array of animals. Even though he didn’t make it through the battle rounds, you can still catch Todd performing all over the Chicagoland area with his band “Todd Kessler and The New Folk”.
AC: First of all, congratulations on making it to the Battle Rounds on ‘The Voice’, that in itself is quite an accomplishment. What was the audition process like?
TK: Thanks Tom! The audition process was long and involved a lot of waiting for the phone to ring but was generally pretty harmless. I first attended the open call audition at Chicago’s McCormick Place (aka the “Cattle Call”) and after waiting in line for a few hours got my chance to sing. I was then informed that they wanted me to come back in a couple of days for a call back at a local rehearsal space, and after that I was told to hang tight and wait for a call. Two months later I got the call that they wanted to see me in LA for a final audition and then after one more successful audition I was invited to the Blind Auditions!
AC: You seem very calm and collected when you’re on stage, I assume that comes from the years of playing around Chicago; was the big stage of ‘The Voice’ just another gig? Or did you start to feel the pressure when you got up there for the blind auditions?
TK: Actually, right before going on stage the nerves kind of dissipated and my years of experience kicked in and it became another gig. Of course, as soon as I walked off stage and went backstage I nearly collapsed as the weight of the situation and the weeks and months of waiting and preparing had quickly sunk in….I had made it!
AC: Cee Lo was the only one to turn around for you during the blind auditions, personally we thought that everyone should have been fighting for you. I’m sure you were obviously just happy that someone turned around, but did you expect that someone to be Cee Lo?
TK: At that point in the process I had no idea what to expect. Going out to LA I of course had my ideas of how the whole thing would transpire and thought I had an idea of who I wanted to turn around, but after three weeks of living in a hotel and preparing for the performance, it quickly went from, “I hope Adam or Blake turn around” to “I only need one of then to turn around and I don’t care who it is!” In hindsight I am extremely grateful that Ceelo turned around because I got such an interesting persective from him, one that is very different from my own, and when it came down to it I auditioned for The Voice to get out of my comfort zone and being on Ceelo’s team really helped me do that.
AC: What was it like to work with Cee Lo and Rob Thomas? Their musical stylings are a bit different from yours, did that make it difficult to trust their advice?
TK: Working with Rob and Ceelo was a gift, they are both incredibly talented and successful singers and songwriters and are both incredibly down to earth that I was completely open to what they had to say. Plus, I saw the differences between us as an advantage for me because as I said before I entered this whole process wanting to step out of my comfort zone and learn as much as I could.
AC: Did you feel confident going into the Battle Round against Nicholas? Were you comfortable with the Hall & Oates song choice?
TK: Going in to the battle I knew it was going to come down to taste. Nicholas and I have such different voices and we both have a lot of experience and confidence that I knew we were both going to have a great performance and represent our selves well. Plus, as was made very clear on the show, Nick and I became very close friends and decided from the get go to go into the battle with the mind set that we weren’t singing against each other but with each other, and I think that shows in our performance. As for the song, “She’s Gone” by Hall & Oates, neither of us had heard the song, in fact the first time we both heard it was the night before our first on-camera rehearsal with Rob and Ceelo, so we both went in to the performance on an even playing field, and by the time the battle came around I loved the song.
AC: When you didn’t get saved at the end of the performance, Cee Lo told you to get in touch with him, has that happened, has he reached out to you at all? Are you the new member of Goodie Mob?
TK: I have been in touch with Ceelo via email but am not yet a permanent member of the Goodie Mob.
AC: We know you’re still playing music around the Chicagoland area, what’s next for you?
TK: I’ve got a number of gigs lined up with my band and without, basically I’m still doing what I was doing before. For info go to www.thenewfolk.net
AC: Will we ever see the dreadlocks again? Knowing you from high school, I honestly never pictured you as the type that would end up with dreadlocks down to your waist, what made you cut them?
TK: I know, I had super short hair in high school but had always wanted to grow dread locks. Being in Choir and in sports in high school dreads just weren’t in the cards then but as soon as I graduated I went for it. That being said twelve years is a long time to have long hair so I was really just ready for a change. Will I grow them again? I don’t know, maybe.
AC: And finally, the question everyone wants to know (or maybe it’s just us) did you get to pet Cee Lo’s cat and/or bird?
TK: No, I never even met Lady or Purrfect! It was devastating.
You can keep up with all of Todd’s happenings at his Facebook Page, Twitter Page and website, all listed below.