Nicolle Galyon may not have won her Battle Round on The Voice, but as you will see, she leaves the show as a winner on so many levels.
The country music singer/songwriter was paired with Mathai for her Battle Round. Coach Adam Levine chose “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles for their battle. The song was tailor-made for the piano-playing Galyon, who lists Bareilles as one of her influences. Everything seemed to be going her way with a perfect song and Levine even saying she could play her piano during the battle.
Then the day before the battle, Levine shook things up by taking the piano out. We will never know if things may have been different had she been allowed to battle from behind her Baldwin. As it turned out, the other three coaches all felt Mathai not only sang better, but also had a more polished performance. Levine agreed, ending Nicolle’s adventure on The Voice.
We caught up with her a few days after her elimination aired to discuss her Battle Round, her upcoming projects and the moment that finally brought her to tears. Continue reading to learn how the 27-year-old native from Sterling, Kansas is on the rise both personally and professionally.
After your elimination you posted a blog over on your page at NBC.com. After reading it, I was struck with the impression that what you’re most taking away from the show has nothing to do with singing, but the relationships that were formed.
I believe that that’s what we’re all put on this Earth for – is relationships. I think the show, for me, was all about who I became because of being on that show. That’s how I look at my whole music career.
I love music and I know that’s what I was put on this planet to do. But I know there’s more going on – something bigger than just the music business. At the end of the day being in the music business and my career make me a better person and can stretch me. That’s what makes it all worth it for me.
The Voice has done that for me. I have just been so challenged and have grown so much because of that show.
You’ve been heavily involved with your fans from the Blind Auditions on. Along with Facebook and Twitter, you’ve been doing live webcasts and really engaging with people. You’ve grabbed the whole experience with both hands and seemed to have really enjoyed the ride. Is that correct?
Yeah. I’m from a town of 2,000 people where everyone knows everything about you. I think having that background makes me feel comfortable knowing that people know me. I like to be known. So having social media as a platform for people to know my story and to know my life and ultimately know my music, was such a gift.
Now I can sit back and be a spectator and watch all of these people that I love so much chase their dreams for the next month on the Live Shows. It’s a really bitter-sweet, beautiful thing for me.
Now that you’re eliminated, are you officially backing another contestant?
Ultimately I’m a fan of everyone, but I definitely have my loyalties to people on a personal level. But, obviously, RaeLynn and I have a relationship that basically supersedes the show. The Voice or no The Voice, we’re gonna be in each other’s lives moving forward no matter what.
So I’m obviously “Team RaeLynn” because I love that girl. But also she’s the only one that’s left hanging in there representing the true country music genre. I’ve told her this many times: “It’s your job now to represent all of us and show the world how cool country music is. I’m not saying that to put pressure on you. I’m saying that because you should be honored you get to be the person that does that.”
I think that her kinda country is cool. I’m so proud that she gets to carry the flag from now on.
Now let’s talk about your Battle Round. What was it like working with advisor Robin Thicke?
I found Robin to be extremely endearing and extremely genuine. That’s funny because both Adam and Robin are such sex symbols.
A lot of people have brought that up in interviews. Everybody wants to know, “How could you even focus when you’re in there with these guys who are so attractive and they just exude sexiness?” Robin and Adam were both extremely endearing and extremely genuine. So that kind of offset how physically attractive they both are. I wouldn’t say that at the time to them, but the truth is they’re so cute! You’re not a girl if you don’t think they’re cute!
I think Robin really related to me. There’s part of the show that they don’t really show. It’s these couch sessions where you sit down and you get to talk with your mentor and your coach at the same time. I felt like in that session that Robin really related to me. I think that he could empathize with what I was putting myself through with going on a show that’s strictly just a singing competition.
He even said to me in one of the segments that he’s never really performed a song that he didn’t write. That was the first time that anyone on that show really, I felt, understood where I was coming from in terms of that. I started writing songs and that’s what got me singing. I’ve only really sung songs that I’ve written. I was really putting myself out there in a way that I don’t think a lot of people really recognized and he got it instantly.
He also gave your voice quite the compliment, describing it as “angelic femininity.”
(Laughs) If you watch the show, then you know there are so many unique voices. I would consider myself to have a unique voice, too. It’s very recognizable and it’s very believable. But it’s not the kind of voice that traditionally gets a lot of attention and hype on a show like this.
I think the things that make my voice unique, Robin really understood and appreciated. I know he used the words “pure” and “purity” a lot. That really is what makes my voice unique. It has this honest, purity to it.
Adam chose “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles for your Battle Round with Mathai. That seemed to be right in your wheelhouse. What was your reaction when you heard that would be the song?
I was flattered because I feel like if there’s any artist that I would want to emulate for my career, it would be Sara Bareilles. So in that moment I remember thinking, “Sara Bareilles is going to see me do this!” That was the first thing I thought. “If I’m singing her song, then she’s going to see me do it!” I cared more about that, almost, than anything else. She wrote that song and I know where she was coming from when she wrote it.
I was so flattered that I got to do that song. But I was also a little nervous because it was so in my wheelhouse that I thought, “How can I make it my own?” You don’t just want to copy the artists. You don’t want to sound too much like the artist. That’s what makes an artist and artist is that they don’t sound like anybody else.
I turns out Sara Bareilles did see your performance and even tweeted you after it aired. What was your reaction to seeing that?
I just felt so loved! If there’s anybody who can understand what was goin’ on with me on that show, it was her. Because you don’t accidentally become Sara Bareilles, the girl that plays piano and still gets played on Top 40. You deliberately have to be stubborn. I just think she, if anyone, would understand how much of a risk that is to just leave your piano.
Now I just want to meet her and I want to hug her and I want to tell her “thank you!” and I want to apologize for doing any bad things to her song! (Laughs) I feel connected to her even though I’ve never met her.
Speaking of leaving the piano, Adam originally was going to let you use it during your Battle Round, but then, as we all saw on the show, took it away from you. The look on your face was almost one of distress. Was that what you were feeling?
It was! My head was spinning! What you don’t understand is that we had rehearsed that song for three weeks. We had tons of rehearsals on that song. It wasn’t until ultimately the day before the taping for the show that he decided to pull it.
Had he told me three weeks before, “You’re doing ‘Love Song’ but you’re not playing the piano” I would’ve had time to adjust to that; to sink into that idea. But it was so last-minute. We had done the song and had worked out the staging and blocking. We were going to incorporate the piano so much in the performance that it was like, “Oh, my gosh! We have to unlearn everything that we’ve learned in 24 hours!”
Was there so much going on during the actual Battle that you didn’t have time to even think about your piano not being there?
I’m the kind of person that just blooms where they’re planted. So if you put me in a situation where I don’t get to play the piano, I can somehow spin it to where it’s a positive thing. I looked at it as a challenge – a welcomed challenge – and also an opportunity for me to show that I can sing. That’s why I love the show, because it’s about singing.
The piano to me isn’t a crutch. It’s an extension of who I am. I think on the show it made it look like “this piano girl is going to have a meltdown without her piano.” I didn’t feel that way at all. I was like, “Cool! I get to show that I can do that, but I can also do this, too!”
Another thing they didn’t show was when we were using the piano, when it was still in the program, I was grabbing the mic in the middle of the song and getting up and owning the stage halfway through it. So it wasn’t like I wasn’t going to be getting away from the piano already.
I think that might have been where Adam’s decision came from. When he saw I was grabbing the mic in rehearsals and getting away from the piano and I was doing a good job of it. He was like, “You don’t need the piano. That’s not necessary because you’re obviously comfortable enough working the stage without it.” That’s how I took it.
Yes, I was nervous and very caught off guard. But I was also empowered in a way. I think he saw something in me. I think he saw the potential for me to own it. And I felt that I did own it. No matter the outcome of the Battle Round, I still stand behind my performance on stage. I feel like I did a really good job just being reckless and fearless and being brave in going after that.
As we all know, Adam picked Mathai as the winner. You seem to have such a genuine respect and appreciation for her as a performer and as a person. What can you say about her?
I think we were both equally shocked to be put together. I think we both were vulnerable in the beginning to each other’s circumstances. She was thinking, “I never thought I’d be with you!” and I was like, “I never thought I’d be with you!”
We both have this artistic maturity about us that allowed us to be a fan of each other’s strengths – even though our strengths are so different. I’m the kind of person who is fascinated by people that can do things that I can’t do. Mathai can do a lot of things vocally that I can’t do. So I’m really a fan of her music.
But beyond that, I think we both live for something bigger than being on a television show. We realize that how we treat each other is the most important thing. I just can’t say enough about both of us! I mean she was awesome to me, but I also feel like as human beings, we both won because we did something that was pretty remarkable on television that few people will ever get to do. We did it with a lot of grace and class.
That’s what people are ultimately going to remember. I don’t know if ten years from now people will remember the song that we sang, but they will remember how we hugged each other and how we made them feel when they watched us interact with one another. I’m just proud of both of us and I’m so thankful that we were paired together.
She even told me one night in her hotel room, “I probably would’ve never taken the time to get to know you because you’re so different than what I thought you were.” So that was a beautiful thing that we got paired together because we now know each other in a way that we never would have otherwise.
I think I just talked about her for 25 minutes without taking a breath! (Laughs)
Your little brother Cooper’s joyful reaction when you passed the blind audition was so precious. How did he handle it when you were eliminated?
They put Cooper on camera and asked him how proud he was and he just said some things that were absolutely beautiful. And then he started crying. As you know, a lot of people cried on the show, up to that point. Way back before the blind auditions, people were crying in their interviews and then crying after blinds and crying before battle and after battles.
I got through my interviews and got through everything and didn’t cry on stage. But when he started talking about me in that room, I started crying. I remember the last thing I said was, “Dang it! I told myself I wasn’t going to cry on this show!” And the camera people were like, “Cut! That’s all we need!” So it was my final thing to say on camera – that Copper made me cry. (Laughs)
What are a few of things you learned from either Adam or just being on the show that you now carry forward with you?
I’ve been asked this a lot and the answer that’s so obvious to me is to always bet on yourself.
This show really taught me to be stubborn about who I am. If you lose yourself, you don’t have a chance as an artist. That’s ultimately where all of my creative juices come from; is knowing myself and being honest with who I am. This show has better taught me how to tune into that voice that goes, “Yes, Nicolle. That’s who you are!” or “No, Nicolle. That’s not you!”
I’ve learned that and just betting on yourself in general. No matter who I would’ve been paired with on that show, you have to bet on yourself. You have to go, “No matter what the circumstance, I can win this!” Because if you don’t think you can win this, then you’re never going to win it.
You’re still working as a songwriter in Nashville, but what’s next for Nicolle Galyon the singer?
Well, Nicolle Galyon the artist…I’ve started pre-production on my EP which will probably be five songs and will probably come out in May. We started that a few weeks ago and I’m really excited.
I have the blessing and the luxury as a songwriter of creating music every day. It’s almost to a point where it sometimes feels common-place. Being on this show with other people who don’t get to make music for a living, made me really appreciate on a whole ‘nother level how lucky I am to live in Nashville, Tennessee and get to make music for a living.
So just doing demos for other artists, I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. But I realize it’s time for me to put myself out there as an artist. The fact that I wasn’t doing that before is worth me doing the show just to figure that out.
So I’ll have an EP out on iTunes this summer. I can’t talk about all of it, but I’m writing with a lot of other artists — some on the show, some not on the show – and writing for their projects. It’s just been cool to see the little seeds that have been planted because of this show that have nothing to do with the show.
I hope that someday I have my name on a song or two on RaeLynn’s record. I hope there are other things that come out of the show that had nothing to do with the show.
It sounds like a like of things already have.
I think people know that I’m fearless now. I think people in this town always knew that I could write songs, but now, whether they love or hate my music, they know that I’m fearless and a force to be reckoned with. If you can get up there and do that on TV, what can’t you do? I’m definitely not operating out of fear! (Laughs) People should know that about me by now! (Laughs)
Finally, what would you like to tell your fans as you officially leave The Voice and head off to your next bog things?
First of all, thank you! In this world it’s so much easier to be critical than it is to be complimentary. I have had nothing but an outpouring of love from fans – people who have known me for a long time and people who don’t know me from Adam.
I entered into this show anticipating a lot of criticism because that’s what comes with these shows. It’s part of what makes them enticing. But I have been so surprised with the outpouring of love from all corners of the world. People have really reminded me of the goodness that is out there.