“Do rich ladies loaded up on wine try to hit on you?” asked country music star Luke Bryan during Hampton Bays resident Christiaan Padavan’s audition for “American Idol.”
“That’s the Hamptons in a nutshell,” joked Padavan.
The 19-year-old singer auditioned for judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Bryan, and was told “You’re going to Hollywood!” after performing a chilling rendition of Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” The singer made it to the top 98 in the competition before returning home. Indy caught up with Padavan to talk about the experience and what comes next.
Tell us about the process of auditioning for ‘American Idol.’
I’ve been auditioning for “American Idol” since I was eligible. It’s not like it seems on TV. There are pre-rounds with producers and executive producers who decide if you can audition in front of the celebrity judges. I’ve made it to the executives like, twice, before but never made it past them until this season.
I initially auditioned down in Florida, getting a “maybe” from the executive producers who still had me sign all the paperwork and said they’d be in touch. Well, they didn’t lie. They got back to me, I auditioned in front of them again in Manhattan and they liked me enough to put me in front of the celebrity panel the next day!
Out of the judges, do you have a favorite?
I’d definitely say Lionel Richie. He is so genuinely kind and you can tell he really wants to steer those on the right path in their career. Plus, his music career was kind of influential, I guess you can say (totally joking).
This man co-wrote “We Are The World,” was signed by Motown Records, and he and I had a casual conversation about hanging with friends, except his friend was Smokey Robinson. It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to bump into him again down the road.
Why did you choose the song ‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel for your audition?
I chose Vienna last second actually. I was going to be playing a song I co-wrote with a friend and accompany myself but then, at the last second, I thought, “This might be a good one, being from Long Island and all, plus, maybe Billy Joel will even see it!”
I wanted to represent where I’m from well, and all the musical talent that has come out of, and that is still, on Long Island. I’m still hoping Billy Joel sees it and reaches out to me.
Now that you’ve been through the experience, is there anything you would have changed or done different?
Not at all! I wouldn’t change anything about my experience on “Idol.” I stayed true to myself from day one, and that’s all I wanted.
I still wish they got to show my Hollywood Week solo performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and my group round performance of “Attention” by Charlie Puth, but that’s the entertainment business.
I’m lucky I got shown off as much as I did with my initial audition, being that most auditions were never even aired.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Michael Bublé, Queen, ELO, and the list never ends.
You were the iHeartRadio Cold Brew Jams winner in 2018. Tell us a little about that experience.
At the time, a couple of buds and I were going to Five Towns College in Dix Hills and we decided to sign up for the competition. The competition was basically writing your own Dunkin’ [Donuts] jingle to lyrics that were already provided. So, everyone that competed had the same lyrics but a different tune behind them.
A few weeks later, our jingle made it into the top 10, where the public then voted us to the top three. The top three met up at iHeartMedia in Manhattan at the Dunkin’ Iced Coffee Lounge, where we all performed our jingle in front of an executive from RCA Records, Greg T the Frat Boy from Z100, and the previous 2017 competition winner.
After all the groups went, we ended up winning the grand prize of $10,000 studio time at The Cabin Studio in the Manhattan Center. The Dunkin’ team must’ve liked us, because after that competition, we were invited to play for a Dunkin’ Rooftop Pool Party at Hotel Eventi in Manhattan, a Dunkin’ charity gala at The Edison Ballroom in Times Square, and play for the VIP launch party for their newest [partner], Saquon Barkley of the NY Giants. We now go under the band name Away For The Day when we’re together.
What are some of your favorite things to do or places to go in Hampton Bays?
Favorite things to do in Hampton Bays — drive down Dune Road, go to the ocean, go out to get an egg sandwich at Katrinka’s Deli, and always see someone I know. And sing my gigs around town at 1 North Steakhouse, Cowfish, and Rumba.
Do you have any local performances planned for the future?
On April 26, Away For The Day, the boys who won the “Cold Brew Jams” competition with me, and I will be making our Stephen Talkhouse debut in Amagansett at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available for $10 on www.stephentalkhouse.com.