Kristen Merlin on Shakira’s Sapphic video and singing country while gay

If there are two things you need to know about me, it’s that I live for singing based reality TV and I become nearly incapacitated when talking to charismatic and talented women who just happen to be super hot. Or maybe it’s the former that defines the latter. Whatever the case, I’m sure there’s more to know about me, but those facts are the most pertinent in regards to my getting the opportunity to talk to Kristen Merlin of The Voice.

The Voice - Season 6

The Boston-based country singer is one of the most talented in this year’s competition, and that’s not my lady-loving bias, that is straight from the mouth of Adam Levine. My bias comes in when I say, HOW IS SHE SO HOT?! If you haven’t tuned in yet this season, or ever before, now is your time. Seems Kristen is positioned to win the entire competition with her pop-country swagger, fast vibrato and have I mentioned how energetic, personable and seriously, the hot thing? Now all she needs is votes, which I think we can handle. I for one am not opposed to breaking out the puffy paint to go to town on some T-shirts. Team Merlin is on the prowl.

AfterEllen.com: Being a country singer from Boston seems like a paradox. Had you ever thought about moving somewhere known for it’s country music, like Nashville?

Kristen Merlin: Growing up my parents always listened to country and during that time it was more bluegrass which I wasn’t into at all. When country started leaning more towards a pop/rock kind of mix, that was something I really started getting into. As for moving, I’ve been to Nashville and don’t know that I’d wanna move there. Ideally I would love to live on the west coast!

AE: Already planning for stardom! On the show, you had said you really wanted to be on Blake’s team. Were you surprised to have to choose between Adam and Shakira instead?

KM: My heart kinda sank once he didn’t turn around at first, but then, how can you be upset about having a two-chair turn. No matter who it was, it was still a great experience and they obviously both have so much experience within the industry. It wasn’t too much of a let down. The choice was going to be hard because Adam is amazing and so is Shakira. I felt that Shakira was really genuine and very heartfelt in what she said. I wasn’t thinking strategy; I definitely needed to go with my gut for once.

The Voice - Season 6

AE: I think you made the right choice! A friend of mine asked who your coach was, and without missing a beat was like, “I hope it’s Shakira.” So obviously we’re all jealous. How is it, working so closely with her?

KM: That’s hilarious. She’s awesome! She’s quiet, which is funny. I thought, I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting her to be so quiet. She always chimes in with the right thing to say. She’s very focused and dialed in to just helping make what you have shine brighter. So she she’s not trying to tear me down or rebuild me, she saw something in the beginning and just wants to enhance it. It’s really awesome to see what she has to offer as far as feedback, like what does she hear when I sing and where does she think I should take it? It’s cool because she has a different spin on country.

AE: Speaking of Shakira, I assume you’ve seen her video for “Can’t Remember to Forget You” with Rihanna. Can you confirm this rumor that I’m starting that you’ll be staring in the next one?

KM: Oh that would be so much fun! I thought it was really cool. I wasn’t even expecting her to go there. It’s interesting to see the comments, some people seem disturbed by her acting like a lesbian, calling her a poser, while others think it’s super hot. I just think she’s a beautiful person in general and her music is awesome, so that’s not what I end up focusing on.

AE: Country music isn’t exactly known for being gay friendly. So what’s your experience been?

KM: I have been nervous about that since I started leaning more towards country, and for that reason. I know that it’s not that its not accepted, but certainly not widely. I don’t know of many gay country singers, or at least outwardly gay. But its something that I’m hoping that maybe my being on The Voice, it’ll help get to a point where people don’t even think about it, breaking that mold.

AE: There have been a few gay contestants on The Voice, some were out and others chose to keep it separate from the competition. What’s your take on that since you’ve been so open since the beginning?

KM: To me it’s not something that I ever really think about, I’ve been myself since forever. I mean, I came out when I was 16 and didn’t think twice about it. I think it was more my mom that worried, wondering what people where going to think or is it going to be a difficult world for you. I was like, OK well if they accept me that’s cool, if not too bad. I mean, I wasn’t going to hide something. I didn’t feel like I needed to hide. So coming on the show, I don’t think it’s something that makes me who I am, it’s just a part of me.

AE: Will we be seeing any non-country songs from you this season?

KM: I’d be down for doing any of that. Honestly, when I’m back home doing cover shows I do everything, I go from Elvis to Eminem, you know. I’m all across the map. I’m definitely looking forward to perhaps dipping into another genre, maybe putting my spin on it.

AE: How are your nerves going into the live shows?

KM: I am nervous as hell! Every time I’ve taken the stage, and this is the biggest competition I’ve ever been in, it is nerve wracking in general. Before we were always trying to win over the coaches and now it’s like, I have to put my faith in America and hope to win over their votes. For me, I just I hope that they connect with me, because I love what I do. I hope that shines through on stage. This is my passion, this is what I feel that I’m born to do.

Sold! I for one will be voting for Kristen, and you better believe I’m getting my mom in on it too. If you’re a voting novice, there are plenty of different methods! Find her on Twitter and Instagram @KristenMerlin, use #MerlinNation and by all means, download her songs on iTunes! Voting aside, if that’s not enough Kristen for you, check out www.KristenMerlin.com for live videos, all sorts of photos and her song, “Confusion,” which I currently have on heavy rotation.

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