Chayce Beckham Talks Debut Single ’23,’ Friends He’s Made On ‘American Idol’ & An Upcoming Debut Solo Album

Chayce Beckham; Photo Courtesy ABC

Will Chayce Beckham win American Idol? Thousands of fans thinks and with his impressive vocal abilities and knack for songwriting, they could be right!

The humble California native released his debut single “23,” one week ago and since its release it has been sitting atop the iTunes country and all-genre charts.  Now, the 24-year-old singer is gearing up to compete for the Idol title this weekend during the season finale of American Idol.

The Top 3 Idol finalist and fan-favorite contestant is set to take the stage on Sunday, May 23, during the three-hour Idol finale for several performances. Beckham will perform six times during the finale, including covers of Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away,” The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Ed Sheeran’s “Afterglow.” In addition to his solo performances, he will also perform duets alongside Luke Combs, Fall Out Boy and Macklemore. See the full song list for Idol’s finale HERE.

Beckham recently caught up with Music Mayhem to talk about his debut single “23,” the American Idol journey, friends he has made during Idol, a forthcoming debut solo album and more. Continue reading to learn more about Beckham.

Let’s start by talking about your audition. So your mom and stepdad signed you up for the audition on Idol, from my understanding, and at the time, did you ever think you would even make it into the top three?

No, I was surprised to get a Golden Ticket, you know. So it was all kind of unexpected for me.It was more than I anticipated. I didn’t expect too much, you know? I was just kinda hoping to get a Golden Ticket, and you know, worst case scenario, I could say I tried. So I think it was just kind of like, yeah, I think I gained a lot of confidence in this show as far as, you know, performing and knowing that this was my purpose, I guess. Yeah, I didn’t expect any of this to happen. It’s all kind of unplanned and, you know, just feels right.

After your audition, Luke Bryan told you that you had him from your first note, and Katy Perry even predicted that you would be in the top five. And I guess she was right because now you’ve made the top three. Like, what was going through your mind when you were announced as the first person to make the top three?

Oh, man, I was just so relieved that I didn’t have to be one of the last people on stage, and I was thinking it’s been a while since that’s happened to me, so if it happened, I thought it was gonna be last night, and you know, it didn’t happen. When they said my name, it was like a wave of relief, but also stress too, because there is just like so much that goes into this stuff, so, yeah, it feels good. That’s like the moment that you have to kind of accept it and soak it all in because, you know, right when you get out of there, it’s back to work. So it’s nice, you know, I don’t know, like I said, it’s unexpected. So if I went home last night, I would have been fine, but to just know that you’re going through and you’re gonna sing again and, you know, go up on stage and do it all over again. It makes it all worth it, you know?

For sure. So this coming Sunday, you’re going to be a part of the finale. Is there anything you’re able to tell us about the finale?

Yeah, so as far as what I can tell you, I’m not really sure what details I can give you about that, but yeah, we are doing special performances with some of our [celebrity] guests. We’re going to be doing some duets; we’re going to be doing some group numbers, and then, yeah, I’ve got about three performances aside from those planned out that are gonna be really special, so I’m really excited to get the opportunity to play those three songs, and go do the duets and the group numbers with some of the celebrities that are gonna be stopping by. So, this is gonna be a really cool show on Sunday, a three-hour event. I can’t wait to kinda be a part of it, I guess, you know. What a freaking experience to be a part of that.

During Idol you worked with Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and more. What has it been like working with such notable artists, not only them, but even just the superstar judges?

Yeah, I mean Brandon Boyd, Chris Martin, FINNEAS and Ross Copperman, the gentleman who produced my record. It’s just what you’d think that it would be, I don’t know, there’s some starstruck moments with some folks, but I think that really when you get down to it, these people are just musicians who just care about music, so it’s nice to get to bond with those people over music and to see them with that passion still lit, and that energy that they have and that hunger that they have for creating good music. You know, it just inspires me to continue on in this field of work pretty much, and just keep on doing what I’m doing.

So they’re all really good people, man, most down to earth guys, and it’s refreshing when you meet people like that in the industry, you know, and they’re not super rude or into themselves. They’re just normal people, and it’s good to sit down and hang out with them and get to work with them. I don’t get too much interaction with the judges other than what we do on stage because of protocol and stuff, but, you know, every piece of advice that I get from these people, If it’s Grammy award winning artists or producers and stuff, you’d be silly not to listen to it and take it in and take as much advice as you can and learn how to bend it and use it to your advantage.

So have you ever received any off-camera advice from the judges?

Yeah. I mean, in between takes, I’ve talked to Lionel quite a bit, I talk to Luke, and it’s pretty much just Lionel really just hones in on me, just believing in myself and understanding what I’m doing, and if I give a good performance, he really, you know, takes the time to kind of talk to me for a second and say, hey, you know, that’s what you need to be doing every time you go up there. You need to deliver this, or you need to give me more of that, so it’s just all words of encouragement. You know what I mean? There’s no really negative criticism going on. They just want you to be the best that you can, and that goes for everybody that I’ve met throughout the process, so, I mean, that’s what I take from them is just that positivity, that energy that they put out, and it’s kind of what I want to reciprocate.

So have you kept in touch with any of the friends that you’ve made through the Idol journey? Like I know you’ve become close friends with Hunter Metts and Benson Boone when he was on Idol. Have you kept in touch with those guys, and do you plan on making any music with them when the Idol journey ends, whether you win or lose?

Right, absolutely. Yeah, Hunter Metts is a good friend of mine, and I’m actually planning on moving to Nashville after this, so Hunter’s in Nash, Graham’s gonna be in Nash. Wyatt Pike, we’re all talking about moving to Nash. I’m going for sure, so it’s nice to have that group of friends that I’ve made here that are all just devoted to music, and just want to make music, and we kinda all want to get together in the same city and do shows and record music and write songs, so definitely got a lot of stuff going on with them.

I still keep in touch with Benson, that’s my buddy. I’m really proud of him and all the stuff that he’s doing, and we talk at least once a week, like every week. So you know, there’s a lot of people who I’ve met through here. We still all stay in touch. There’s so much love, there’s no competitive edge really, it’s just everybody is so supportive of each other, it’s awesome. And then, you know, some of the other people who I’ve kept in touch with like Ross and Brandon Boyd and some of those people that I still communicate with. It’s awesome to still be able to reach out to those people and talk to them. Yeah, there’s a few good friends that I’ve made here that will last forever.

Awesome. So taking it back to your Mother’s Day performance where you performed your original song, “Mamma.” Can you tell us a little bit about that song and what it felt like to finally take to the Idol stage with an original song for the first time?

Yeah. So I wrote that song in Hollywood. I did an interview, and the producer who did the interview really got into some of the nitty gritty stuff of my life, and really worked me up, got me emotional. So I walked out of that interview, and I went upstairs to go back to my hotel room, and I ended up writing that song in about, you know, 15 or 20 minutes. I kind of just jotted it down, then I called my mamma, and I sang it for her and, you know, we both cried and just kind of talked about life and where we’ve been, and yeah, that was, I didn’t plan on playing that on the show. I didn’t think I’d still be here for Mother’s Day performances or anything like that, so it was just a song that I wrote, and I sang it to my mom because that’s what I felt and, you know, to get to go sing that song on live TV and to finally do an original when I’ve been dying to do one all season, it’s so gratifying, you know? So it was a lot, it was a hard battle like not singing originals for like a long time, you know. And then kind of getting the clear, okay, let’s do an original, and I was just like yes, let’s go.

For sure. So following that performance, you actually were praised by Lionel Richie, who told you you need to actually put that song out right now. How did it feel, like what was going through your mind when he said, coming from a Grammy award winning songwriter, when he told you that this song needs to be out now?

Yeah, man, I’ve been, that’s why I’ve been dying to play original music. I feel the same way about the stuff that I write. I could connect with it so much more, and I could perform it much better. So it’s just, that’s kind of validating for me, knowing that, like, yeah, my original is where it’s at. That’s kind of where I want to be, yeah, so… You know, it’s a cool feeling to hear that from, you know, any of those people telling you anything is awesome. Luke, Katy and Lionel, any of them. They’ve been around, and they’ve seen it all. So it’s definitely something that hits home whenever they give you good critiques on your original work.

So aside from being a singer, you also do songwriting. How did you get into the songwriting realm of things?

Well, I used to be really into hip hop and stuff like that, so it was easy for me to kind of, as a lyricist, I could go from writing a lot of stuff that rhymed to kind of just going back down to a few words that rhymed. You know, I started my band, the Sinking Sailors, when I was 19 or 20 years old and we got together, and I just started writing the music for us. It was just kind of just the way that it went. Yeah, I mean it never was anything that we planned. I wasn’t really trying to write like a great song or anything, I was just trying to, you know, play music with my buddies and that was pretty much it. And now, it just turned into like hey, that’s kind of a good song. You know, I just put more meaning into the lyrics and stuff and have fun with songwriting and not play regular music, so that was just a blast for us to put stuff together and have a little fun with that. I did that for years. So, I mean, it kind of was just a slow thing that evolved over time, and I was into country rock, too, so it was becoming like just a process of writing stuff for a long time. I was good in English. I failed all my other classes, but I was good in English, so I guess writing is just kind of something that I’m fond of.

Did you have any like inspirations or influences that got you into being a singer/songwriter?

Yeah, I’m a huge fan of The Doors. I like Jim Morrison, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr., Hank Williams, Sr., I mean all sorts of stuff that influenced me as far as an artist. From reggae to blue grass to rock ‘n roll, classic rock, you name it. I don’t know. I think I’ve just always connected well with stuff that was emotional, so that’s kind of where I get my songwriting from, I guess.

With your solo music, would you consider yourself more of a rocker or more like country?

Country music. It’s country but what we do on the show is not always, you know what I mean, not always what I would put on a record or something like that, but sometimes it’s just, it’s just what happens so quickly, and not just the way that the song sounds. But yeah, you know, the last few performances, if you’ve seen them, I’ve kind of really pushed for stuff like steel guitar, violins, cellos, you know, stuff that gives it that country edge, because that is the genre that I’m trying to go into, that I am in, you know. Or the country genre just kind of accepted me.

So you released your debut single “23” this past Friday. I mean it went all the way up the charts. I think it’s still sitting at Number One on the All Genre and the Country charts, at least it was last time I looked. So what was going through your mind when you saw that your song that you wrote by yourself went all the way up the charts to number one?

Man, it’s a great feeling, but like I can’t take credit for all of it, you know. I’ve got a great team of people who worked with me, not to write the song, but to produce it and record it. I wrote that song about a year ago, right around this time, or last May, and I think that I never thought that that song would take me where it’s taking me now, that it would be a Number One song. A lot of people told me when I played that song, that song should be on the radio, it should be on the radio. I was always like, you know, this little old song? Nah (laughing), I don’t think so, man. But sure enough, that song was saved for my debut single, and it did really well, so it’s a full circle experience from where I was when I just got out of a 7-year relationship. I was sitting in my house by myself, you know, drunk, writing that song. All the things I went through after that, leading up to Idol and getting into Idol, and then getting to release that song, and for it to do what it’s doing right now is just more than my wildest dreams could ever have imagined, man. you know. It’s crazy, it’s fucking crazy, man. (laughing).

Yeah, it really is. So you have “Mamma” written, you have “23” written. Do you have a slew of other songs up your sleeve ready to go, or a debut EP or anything that these will appear on in the near future?

Yeah, man, we got a whole album ready to go. Once we get done with this, and we can get into the studio, then, that’s it, the rest will be history. As far as those songs go. I’m done with those, I finished those sometime last year, that’s the way that it goes out. I was gonna do an EP before the show happened, and then I decided to wait and hang onto all those songs. So I’ve got a good few songs that are ready to go and record them, and put them out as soon as we can, so hopefully, I can get a record deal then, and I can go record a record, and put this music out as soon as possible and stay on this wave. Hopefully, it won’t die down.

If you could pick your dream collaboration with any artist of any genre, like who would you pick to duet with, and why?

Jim Morrison. I don’t know why because I feel like he’s just freaking, that’s my personal one, like I was obsessed with him, that was like my Elvis for years, so I mean, yeah, man, if he was still around, I would love to sing a song with Jim.

So lastly, Do you have any advice for those wanting to audition for the next season of American Idol coming up next year?

Advice for that, I think you gotta, you gotta really, really prepare yourself. I think for me, if I didn’t prepare myself, I don’t think this was gonna happen. And, oh well, I think you really gotta believe in yourself, and if you’re gonna do it, you really gotta put yourself out there, and you gotta know in your heart that that’s what you want to be doing. I was lucky enough to find myself along this journey and still be here doing this. It’s insane. But I definitely think you really just gotta know what you’re getting yourself into, and you know, that’s a lot of hard work. Not a lot of people think they’re going to get to Hollywood. They’re gonna sing on TV, and everything’s gonna be just peaches and cream after that. But it’s not, you know, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. It’s 12-hour, 14-hour days.

There’s a lot of days where you sing for 6 hours, there’s a lot of days where you rehearse 4 or 5 times. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of energy, but if you love this and it’s what you want to do, then you have a good shot of doing it on the show. So I would say, do it for anybody thinking about doing it, you know. Make up your mind, and get yourself together, and go audition, and have about 50 songs ready to go (laughing) because they will shuffle through them, and you know, they might like this one, they might not like that one. So, you know, you might love a song, and they might say, you know what, that might not be the best song for you to sing on TV. At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but that’s up to you whether or not you want to heed advice from the people who’ve been in this industry for 20+ years. You know, so, that’s what you kind of have to know what you’re doing, have confidence in yourself, yeah, have about 50 songs ready to go, and just have fun with it because it goes by in the snap of your fingers. I can’t believe this is already, I’m a week away from the finale, and it feels like 10 years ago I auditioned for Idol, but it also feels like it was yesterday.

So, it goes by really quickly, and yeah, get your songs ready, get ready to work your butt off and have fun. And buckle up, because it’s quite the experience. But I would definitely recommend it to any artist who wants to get their name out there. What a phenomenal way to get exposure and introduce yourself to an audience that will connect with you.

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