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'American Idol' Contestant Siobhan Magnus on Meeting Hanson, Corsets and Writing Music

by Gabrielle Dunn, posted Jun 18th 2010 3:00PM
Siobhan MagnusSiobhan Magnus, a quirky girl from Massachusetts with a big voice, certainly brought her dramatic flair to season 9 of 'American Idol.'

Magnus was smoky and dark on Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Games,' hit an insane high note on Aretha Franklin's 'Think' and even got emotional on a cover of Whitney Houston's and Mariah Carey's 'When You Believe.'

Still, in our interview last week, Magnus kept mum on which songs she'll be singing during the Idols Live tour this summer, which officially kicks off Jul. 1 in Auburn Hills, MI.

She did, however, give her thoughts on crying when she met her favorite band, Hanson, her crazy costume changes on tour, what inspires her to write angry songs and her weird choice for who should replace exiting 'Idol' judge Simon Cowell.

First off, tell me about performing with Hanson. Are you absolutely dying?
Pretty much. It still hasn't really processed to me yet that that just happened. It was more than I could ever ask for, really, and getting to perform with them, to me, was better than winning 'American Idol.' It was great. It kind of confirmed with me that you don't always need to come out on top and be the winner or anything like that for great things to happen. What matters is, you put in the effort and you work your butt off and good things will happen if you just keep believing.

Who set that up for you?
I think it was kind of a collaborative effort between some wonderful people at 19 Entertainment and Shirley Halperin from The L.A. Times, who I met at the Top 12 party. When I first told her that I loved Hanson she said, "Oh, I know them. They're good friends of mine." And she told them that I was such a big fan and I think she'd kind of been scheming this for a while. She's the best.

Siobhan MagnusDo you know what your tour set looks like yet? Are you going to do any Hanson songs?
I'm not, only because it just didn't fit really with kind of the mood of my set. It's only three songs and it just had to be just right. I can't explain it, but I wouldn't want it to be in the wrong context.

So it's going to be kind of a darker set? Like you did with 'Wicked Games' on the show?
Yeah, it will definitely be something that I think the fans will like. I'm really excited for it.

Can you give away one of the songs you'll be singing?

I'd rather not. I like to keep things surprises. But I am doing a song that came out really well on the show and I get to do the whole song and not just a minute and a half version. [Laughs] It'll be a lot of fun.

Are you planning on any crazy costume changes?
[Laughs] Maybe.

Maybe?! I read about the corset on Twitter!
Oh, that was something else, actually. I was going to a costume party. [Laughs]

What does one wear with a corset?

[Laughs] Well, it depends on your mood. Maybe a tutu or something of that ilk.

So you haven't started picking stuff out to wear for the tour yet?
We're working on it. We've got this amazing dress; but it's lost in the mail right now. I'm a bit concerned. My boyfriend was shipping it out to us so we could play with it and alter it and FedEx screwed up. I don't know where it is right now.

Some lucky fan just opens a package...

[Laughs] Hopefully it'll get here soon!

Siobhan MagnusDo you have a preference for bunking on the tour bus?
Well, I know that we have a girls bus and a boys bus, and there are less girls than boys, so we'll probably have more room. I think amongst the boys there will be a lot more guitars, too [Laughs], so we'll have more room, definitely. I'm not too worried about that. But I don't know. We haven't seen the buses yet, so I don't know who's sleeping where or anything like that.

Didi [Benami] accused you of snoring when I interviewed her.
She thinks that's funny, but I don't snore. She's the one who wakes up at six in the morning and starts meowing. [Laughs]

What? [Laughs] As a wake-up call?
No, It's her vocal warm-up that she does every day.

Are you going to be working on anything for a solo album while you're on tour?

Well, I'll definitely be writing and working on stuff all summer, just for myself. None of us really know -- except for the top 3 -- if we've been offered any record deals or anything like that. We've all got our fingers crossed that something will come up and we all want to be prepared if something does, so I think we'll all be writing. We all write our own music, which is cool. We're not just singers, we're musicians.

What do you write about in your songs?
A lot of my writing is kind of like venting or just a way to get out some of my bad feelings. I'm always more inspired to write when I'm upset than when I'm happy. I have a lot more sad songs than happy ones; but I'd like to change that, because it's important to have happy songs, too. I think it's just a lot of stuff that I write with my band back home, when we're together we seem to write more dark stuff. The guys in my band listen to a lot of metal and heavier stuff like that. [I'm] not saying that I'll never write happy stuff, because I definitely want to.

You could always go the angry girl rocker route.
[Laughs] Yeah, but I don't want to be put in a box or be labeled as, "Oh, she's the rocker chick," because I like every kind of music.

Siobhan Magnus
Some of the Idols from last season put out their music independently after they didn't get signed. Would you ever do that?
Yeah. I mean, I just want to get my music out there. I just want to be heard. It doesn't really matter to me the route that I take. I guess I just need to be creating no matter what.

Is there a question that you're getting asked the most that you're sick of hearing yet?
Yeah, there are quite a few. [Laughs] A lot of people ask now who we think should replace Simon [Cowell]. Which is a hard question. If it were up to me [laughs], it'd probably be Pee Wee Herman, but I don't think anyone else would really be up for that.

[Laughs] Oh, that would improve the show's ratings tenfold.
I'd watch it!

I thought for sure you were going to say Courtney Love as Simon's replacement just now.
[Laughs] She's probably too anti-corporate America for that.

There were a ton of 'Idol' alums at the season 9 finale. Did you meet anyone you were excited about?
Everyone we performed with at the finale was amazing. It was really surreal to meet the past Idols. We were at rehearsal -- I think it was the morning of the show, it was the first time we rehearsed that number -- and we were all up on stage and all of a sudden all these people start coming in and we're like, "Oh, there's Kelly [Clarkson] and there's Carrie [Underwood] and there's Ruben [Studdard] and there's Fantasia." And they're all just coming in and everybody was there all of a sudden and you're like, "Wow, we're really doing this, huh?" It was crazy. I just remember the day we walked in to practice and there's Alice Cooper, like, "Oh, hey." "Hey, Alice." [Laughs] He's just a nice guy, a really kind guy. It was just so funny.

Siobhan MagnusDid you talk to anyone cool at the finale after party?
Well, I talked to a few people. At the finale party, that was the first time I got to meet Hanson. No offense to anybody else, but I really wasn't paying attention to anything else, because I was just enraptured in my conversation with them. That's all I really cared about.

How did that go?
I wasn't ready. It was a surprise, so I wasn't prepared. It wasn't very fair. I was at the party and I was talking to some people, and a woman named Lindsay, who works for 19, came up to me -- she knows how much I love them -- and said, "You know that Hanson's here." And I said, "Shut up. No. There's no way." She's like, "Yeah, they're over there somewhere. I'll go find them." And she wandered off. I just stood there like, "What do I do? Oh my God, what do I do?!" Then, Miles, who is the stylist for the guys on the show -- he's actually styled Hanson before -- came up to me and said, "They're here! They're right over there! Let's go meet them." I said, "I'm not ready. I need to go to the bathroom," like, "I can't!" But he said, "Oh, come on!" And he grabbed my hand and pulled me over to them. I had no choice. He just dragged me over. He plops me down in the middle of all three of them, and I looked at them, and I just put my head in my hands and I started to cry. They're like, "Oh, it's okay," and I'm like, "I'm such a loser, but oh my God." It was just so overwhelming. I didn't know what to say, but they were really, really nice.

Did you show them your tattoo?
Yeah. They actually knew about it already, which was cool. Like, that they knew anything about me and that they thought that, that was really cool.

That's so cute. Going back to your own album, would you ever collaborate with any other Idols on it?

Yeah, I'd love to do something like that, especially with Lee [DeWyze] -- not just because he won, but he's been my best friend on the show. We're very close and we would just hang out and sing together a lot, anyway, and just kind of goof around and record stuff on our laptops. I really like his voice and the style of music that he likes to play. Also, I think Aaron [Kelly] and I sing really well together, too. When we got to sing with the Bee Gees and we had to work on the beginning of the song singing harmonies with each other, we actually were able to achieve very similar tones in our voice. It just blended really nicely.

Siobhan MagnusThere was a lot of talk this season about the show not really showing off the contestants' personalities. Do you feel like you were portrayed accurately?

Well, I think they had a hard time with me [Laughs], because I think they wanted me to be something; but they were confused and they couldn't really decide. Like, I know that at first it seemed like everybody wanted me to be the rocker chick, because because I have a nose ring and tattoo. But that's not all I am. I mean, that's a part of me, but that's not it. The judges would start to tell me, "Oh, I'm so confused, because you seem like a different person than you did two weeks ago." To me, I just feel like, well, I'm not a different person at all. This is just something else that I like. So I think they initially started to portray me as something but it started to wander, just because they didn't know what to do. I think that's hilarious. I don't want to be labeled, so I kind of did everything in my power to express that I'm not willing to be any one kind of thing.

You were my favorite last season for pretty much that exact reason. But do you think that ultimately hurt your chances of winning?

Thank you! There are a lot of people who, if they can't cling to something that they understand, then they don't want anything to do with it -- and I get that. I really do. But I'm not about to compromise how I feel, just because of the fear of other people not understanding. I'd rather be comfortable with what I'm doing, and who I am and to get voted off but still be proud of having my name on what I've done than trying to be something I'm not, because I think that would be deceitful. The truth always comes out in the end, anyway.

As someone who is quirky, you've become kind of a role model for young girls who might be being bullied for being different. How do you feel about that?
Well, I definitely am honored by that. Being able to be something like that, to be a kind of role model for girls who feel like that is really, really important to me. There were times when I was growing up when I wish I had had somebody like that to look up to. I had to really look. I did have amazing role models, especially in my older brothers and sister, and I'm very grateful for that. But I definitely understand what it's like going through that age, especially in middle school when you're so confused and it's so hard. Kids are so brutal and I was treated like garbage at times. I've been called horrible names; I've had stuff thrown at me; I've been spit on. It's not fun. It's the hardest thing when you're growing up and you're just trying to get by. I'm proud that I never kind of backed down or compromised, because I'm too uncomfortable being something that I'm not. In the end, it made me a lot stronger, because now I feel like I'm able to face adversity with much more confidence and it's not so hard anymore. I know that it takes a lot of courage and it's something to be proud of if you are able to do that.

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I love that Siobhan and Lee are best buds are maybe more. You can tell they are very close to each and have great chemistry together!

June 19 2010 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love Siobhan's voice and her quirky personality. I do hope she gets signed to a record deal. I'd love to have her albums.

June 19 2010 at 3:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice interview with Siobahn. I always like her quirky (if you must call it that) attitude. She reminds me of my daughter Jennifer. Jennifer never was in the with the in-crowd, she hung out with the theatre crowd, but she knew that is what she wanted to have a career in and is currently employed doing what she loves. I never forced my daughter to change her sense of style, her ambition, her career choice, I just gave her the opportunity to be a good caring individual who loves what she does. I think Siobahn parents hopefully encouraged her to do the same. It seems like it, I loved it when Simon asked why she would pick a song, and it was for her sisters, not herself. Good Luck to you Siobahn, do what you enjoy and strive for your goals.

June 18 2010 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a high character young lady! Odd, but absolutely captivating. I think for the combination - besides the solid gold character - of talent, looks, personality, and uniqueness she may well be my favorite contestant ever on Idol.
Hard to imagine Siobhan was ever once at a time when economically disadvantaged, different - she was spit on and treated like garbage by cruel peers. Now things have changed! And if it ends for her in fame, wealth as a successful artist, and a handsome prince sweeps her away...it won't be because the slipper just happened to fit...it was because Siobhan worked all her life for it.
Consider me a serious rooter that it all happens! No way will the talent agencies overlook her.

June 18 2010 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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