On the first season of The Voice, Vicci Martinez wowed the judges and viewers with her rendition of Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep.” She joined Cee-Lo Green‘s team and made it all the way through the end of the competition, representing her coach and herself in the finals last winter. Since then, she’s been readying a new album (her first with time and money to put into it) and made a few other life changes, including breaking up with her longtime girlfriend. Martinez took some time between radio promotional tour dates to talk with us last week about her recent performance on The Voice‘s second season, how she feels about being a spokewoman for the LGBT community and why she’ll still sing that Adele song when she sings live.
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AfterEllen.com: Did you hear the news about President Obama endorsing gay marriage?
VM: No! I was out to lunch.
AE: He was just doing an interview on ABC and he said he supports it. Everyone on the internet is very excited. [Laughs]
VM: It’s interesting that you say that because my new song “Come Along” — I’ve had a few people say, “Wow, you should get to the Obama campaign.” Like that would be an interesting song.
VM:The song is not really defining anything it’s just saying, you know, it’s time to take a stand and come out and vote, you know, come out and do something so that’s pretty incredible.
AE: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. Are you still planning on getting married? I remember you saying in an interview that you were planning to get married to your girlfriend.
VM: We were but we actually split up.
AE: Oh, OK.
VM: Yeah, it was nothing bad. I got my contract to go work with Universal just as she got a contract to be a dancer in Seattle so we were both kind of going in two different directions. So we just felt like it was maybe just time to cool it.
AE: Yeah. Is it easier to be single when you’re trying to do all the things that you’re doing these days? When you’re on tour and recording an album, do you find that it’s difficult having a relationship?
VM: I don’t think it’s hard having a relationship, I think for us it was just more being away from each other. It was just too difficult. It wasn’t like, “I want to party and be crazy and be a rock star.” Like, not at all. [Laughs] I’ve been in relationships since I’ve been touring which is like 12 years and it’s great that I’ve been able to have my partners go on the road with me. And this was just totally different. She was actually considering moving to LA with me instead of pursuing her dance career and we both were like “wait, that’s not good for either of us.” Because that’s been her dream, so.
AE: Yeah, that makes sense. So did you watch The Voice finale last night?
VM: Yeah, I did. It was great.
AE: How did you feel about it? Do you think America chose the right winner?
VM: I was really happy with how things turned out because I think all the finalists have a career ahead of them. They were all so different but it was nice to know, I felt Jermaine was such an underdog, when you calculate Itune sales and being on the charts and having crazy memorable performances. I felt like lot of people thought that other contenders were going to win but what was cool was it seemed like it was based on their final performances. Which is like what is should be based on, you know? That’s the performance of your life [Laughs] and he did an excellent job. He deserves it.
AE: What was it like for you to go back and perform with Cee-Lo?
VM: Really fun. It was totally different now being on the other side of the fence. Being treated as an artist and not having to freak out and hope that America’s going to vote for you. [Laughs] It was nice to be able to play your own music and do your own thing and not wear a ninja costume.
AE: Awesome. You’ve made so many albums before you even got to The Voice, what was different about writing and recording your new album?
VM: Yeah, the whole process. I’ve been making in these albums in the past with my own money and to get into the studio and be able to afford it instead of “whatever I can get done in one week is what we’re going to do,” you know? This was a process to be able to work with some of the greatest producers out there. And I mean great like capable and people that have also won Grammys and know what they are doing. You kind of want to get things done quickly and I felt like it was very important to make a great record with the risk of people forgetting me from The Voice, it wasn’t that way for me. I took it as I’m going to use this opportunity to make a great record. I’ve never had that opportunity to take the time.
AE: When you’re on tour do you feel pressure to perform songs you performed on The Voice or do you just do all your own stuff?
VM: I have definitely been performing songs from my new album and even last night I did a couple of Voice songs and just said to the audience, “you guys wouldn’t know me if it weren’t for me singing this song on the show.” I think it’s important to do those songs and recognize that because of the show I am where I am now. So I don’t mind playing those songs at all.
AE: Do you ever feel the pressure to be a spokesperson for the LGBT community because you’re out? Is it something that you don’t mind or how do you feel about that?
VM: Whatever is going to make someone have a better day, I’d like to do it. I’ve been able to connect with people and they’ll say, “yeah, I like your music but I also share this with you” and I hear lots of stories of coming out. It seems like it’s getting better and easier for some people to come out and I have my own story of rejection and not having it be as easy for me as it has been for others. There’s a lot of people who share the same thing and when you have someone you look up to shares that experience as you it’s nice, it’s nice to know. It’s like if someone loses a parent, it’s like, “ok you know, you get it. You know how it is.”
AE: Yeah, that’s a good way to put that. What can people expect from your new album? Are there any themes that you stuck with?
VM: It’s definitely an up tempo pop rock driven album. There is a song on there about the break up I just went through with my girlfriend and a song about my father. Letting go of the pain of losing a parent or anyone close to you but being able to go on with your life and learn how to celebrate for sure. And then I have some girl power anthems, songs with a strong message that I feel are important to have out there right now and it’s kind of what I believe in anyway. If you’re going to be able to reach a lot of people hopefully you have something inspiring to say. You know?
AE: Definitely. What else do you plan on doing besides touring that’s in support of the album? Will you be doing any public appearances besides touring?
VM: Touring, yeah, and I’ve been visiting a lot of radio stations and doing radio promos and that’s definitely a big thing to get my record out there. I’ll be doing an appearance at the Gracie Awards in LA and I’ll be doing a performance for the mayor during pride weekend. I thought it was pretty cool that he asked me to come do something like that for the community.
AE: Definitely. Do you do anything around Seattle or Tacoma around pride time or doing any special performances there?
VM: I think I’m going to be in San Francisco for pride.
AE: Oh, OK.
VM: We haven’t booked anything yet but we were planning to show in San Francisco but my brother, who’s also gay, said, “you’re going to be in San Francisco during pride and you better do something instead of just walking around!”
AE: Yeah. [Laughs]
VM: “Play your guitar in the streets! You better do something.”
AE: I was reading somewhere that you were approached by American Idol to audition for them. Was that your experience?
VM: No, I actually tried out for Season 1 and I got through but I didn’t go because I just didn’t feel like I was old enough yet. I didn’t know what was going to happen with that show. It was just the first season and I was just a kid and I wanted to grow up and I wanted to know my craft. I just started playing and singing and I wanted to get a little more educated in this music thing that I like to do. I didn’t want to go out there yet.
AE: I’m just wondering because I spoke to another one of The Voice contestants from this year who identifies as a lesbian and she was saying she auditioned for Idol and they were telling her that she was going to have to change her image, like de-gay herself essentially to be on the show. I was wondering if that was your experience at all?
VM: Oh, I definitely got that too that I needed to look more like a rock star. I went in with my tie dye shirt and my jeans and they were probably like, “yeah, that’s not going to work.” [Laughs] I knew at 16 that I wasn’t going to change myself and I wanted to be confident with who I was and you know I was just a little hippie kid then, stumbling around.
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VM: I’m from Tacoma so it’s easy to be like that.
AE: Is it safe to say that The Voice was the right time in your career to be on a show like that?
VM: Absolutely. You know what’s really weird, a few months before The Voice even approached us I remember sitting down and talking to my girlfriend and saying, you know I was feeling pretty desperate, “I’ve been doing this for 12 years. I said no to Idol, what if I said yes? What would have happened?” I was kind of just getting down on myself. I know that so many careers are launched on shows like this and I just wish there was another show where I can be myself, you know, people would like me for me. I wouldn’t have to sell out and do things I don’t want to do and still be able to use that platform you know a giant talent competition.
VM: Literally a few months later The Voice came. It was pretty ridiculous.
Vicci Martinez’s EP is out now. Her full-length album, Vicci, drops June 19.