The Voice's Dez Duron on Sex-Symbol Labels, Bieber Covers and 'Feeling Good' Comparisons

dez duron voiceFew artists on The Voice have worked the stage as hard — or as thoroughly — as Dez Duron. “I’m an entertainer, man. My favorite thing is to sing live. The music just kind of flows through me, and I can’t help but move,” says the Season 3 Top 8 finisher. “I thrive off of the audience response. I thrive off the beat. When you see me moving around, it’s just an outward expression of what I’m feeling inwardly.”

Of course, as Duron explains it, “entertaining all of the audience’s senses” ups the degree of difficulty as far as staying on pitch, which is why he spends a lot of time practicing by running and singing at the same time. “It’s important to me to be an elite performer, not just a vocalist,” he adds. “I always want to be taking it to the next level. I’m never really satisfied with where a performance is. I want to get better every chance I get.”

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TVLine caught up with Duron to discuss what he did to improve his skills between The Voice‘s second and third seasons, where he’d previously performed one of his more memorable numbers (“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”), and whether or not he felt the judges’ frequent emphasis on his looks detracted from him being taken seriously as an aritst.

TVLINE | We were reminded several times on the show that you’d been to the Blind Auditions in Season 2, but didn’t get any of the judges to turn their chairs around. Did you go home that day determined to come back for Season 3, and what did you do in the interim to prepare yourself?
It certainly wasn’t my initial intention to come back to The Voice, but I stayed out in L.A. to learn about the music industry. I took voice lessons, learned the guitar, took piano lessons. I also got in the studio and made a lot of music. I [also] did an ad campaign for American Eagle, which was a fun time. Then I got a call from casting to let me know that [I was allowed to audition again], which I wasn’t even initially aware of. I thought it would be a good career move, and it ended up being a great decision.

TVLINE | So you get to the Live Playoffs as part of Christina Aguilera’s team, and you end up with a country song, “Wanted,” by Hunter Hayes. How did you feel about covering something that far outside your genre?
I knew it was a great song with a great melody, and the soul of the song sat well with me. I did a lot of different genres, but the finished product always stayed in one main vein, which is soulful, passionate music. By the time we got through with ["Wanted"], it didn’t feel very country.

TVLINE | You got a lot of feedback from the coaches, even Christina herself, along the lines of “Ladies love Dez,” or “Oh Dez, you’re melting hearts out there.” Obviously you’re a good-looking guy, but did you ever feel like that took focus off your singing?
I was never mad about girls screaming at the shows, or stuff like that. It’s actually something I’m used to, and always enjoyed, but I just kept in mind that [the coaches] couldn’t see me in the Blind Auditions, and the reason that I got there was because of my voice, and the reason that I came on the show was because of music. I didn’t really pay attention to much of the outside stuff. I’m actually super grateful for all the support from everybody on Twitter and Facebook. I love reading the comments and commenting back.

TVLINE | So you don’t feel like that kind of feedback from the coaches stymied you in terms of being taken seriously as an artist?
One of the things this show has taught me is that people are going to talk and have their opinions no matter what you do. You could sing a Michael Buble song, you could sing a Frank Sinatra song, you could sing a Justin Bieber song. Everybody’s going to vote for what they want, so I focus on the music. I feel like me and Christina put together great performances that I’m proud of.

TVLINE | Fair enough. I feel like you really hit your stride starting with Top 12 Week, when you did “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” What was it about that performance that really clicked?
You know, that’s a song that I’ve sung in the car my whole life, and always wanted to sing live for an audience. It’s one of my favorite songs. It’s one of my favorite arrangements. And it’s reflective of what I want to do as far as making my own music — bringing in these classic melodies with relevant beats underneath them. It was an honor to do a song made famous by Lauryn Hill and Frankie Valli. I’m a big fan of both of them.

TVLINE | You had a nice moment with “Feeling Good,” too. Were you aware that reality singing competition junkies like myself had seen Adam Lambert kill that song on Idol and then Melanie Amaro do it on X Factor in recent years? And if so, did that worry you at all?
I absolutely wasn’t aware of either one. When I was researching older versions of the song, I remember seeing Melanie’s name and Adam’s name in the search list, but I never watched their performances. I wanted to adhere to what I grew up listening to: Nina Simone, Anthony Newley and Michael Buble, whose version I did. Even in the competition, I wasn’t focused on the other [Voice] contestants. It was all about doing my best.

TVLINE | Going forward, how will you merge your pop/R&B sensibilities with the crooner side we saw your last couple weeks on the show?
Good music is good music. Both of those styles have a huge place in my heart. I love the urban sound. I love pop music. And you know, the crooner sound is just really old pop music. And there’s definitely a way to mix those. Look at Bruno Mars; I feel like he’s a modern-day crooner. Amy Winehouse found a way to mix those jazz and pop styles, too. I’m definitely going to be doing pop music with a twist — a soulful twist.

TVLINE | Tell me a little bit about your final performance — Justin Bieber’s “U Smile.” I felt like you gave the original track a serious upgrade — stylistically and vocally. That didn’t really get talked about in the feedback that you got from the coaches, but tell me how you made it your own.
You know, it’s a great song. I’m a fan of Justin Bieber. He works really hard. He’s good at what he does. He recorded that song when he was probably 15, or certainly a lot younger [than he is now]. I’m 22, so I knew we had to change it up and make it me, make it a little more grown, and I think we did a really good job — me, Christina and Paul Mirkovich and the band. I loved what we came up with. I had a blast out on that stage, and it sounded completely different from the original.

TVLINE | Do you feel like having made it this far on the show, you’ve put any doubts to rest about whether leaving Yale to pursue music was a good idea or not?
I left Yale because I felt in my heart it was what I needed to do at the time. I needed to chase this dream and The Voice just gave me the courage to do what I needed to do. My family would support me right now if I was singing on the side of the street and nobody knew who I was, and what gives me confidence that it’s the right thing to do is the peace that I feel in my heart and the joy that I get out of making music. Even when I got no chairs [to turn] last season, I knew I was in the right place. I didn’t need to make the Top 8 to know that music is what I’m supposed to do.

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19 Comments
  1. rod says:

    he is a good singer not a great one, and i have trouble seeing him as a top charting artist but he was good on the show and obviously he is hot but i always thought he worked the camera too hard

  2. Aria says:

    “I was never mad about girls screaming at the shows, or stuff like that. It’s actually something I’m used to, and always enjoyed.”
    So much for the modesty… I was never particularly impressed with Dez, but I really do think he got screwed over in the end because of Christina’s attitude.

  3. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    Most people already have no idea who this guy is. In a month even less people will remember or care. Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes!

  4. JON says:

    I pretty much dismissed him as a pretty face this whole time. Not that I was complaining. He was definitely nice to look at. But I was blown away by Feeling Good. That was a good performance. I really don’t see him as a chart topper as well. Maybe an Abercrombie and Fitch model. or someone in 90210.

  5. I think he’s great all around, and I really hope he is successful.

  6. George LaHood Je says:

    Fez is gifted with a God given talent! He is passionate about his songs and has great vocal range I believe he is going to the top! I have inside infoation!!!!

  7. George LaHood Je says:

    Dec is the bomb!!!!

  8. George LaHood Je says:

    Fez is awesome!!!

  9. George LaHood Je says:

    Dez!!!

  10. Sara says:

    Where is Cody’s interview? I would love to see an interview with Cody! Pretty please?

  11. MamaLis says:

    Nice job, Dez. You followed your dream and made it, Top 8! I thought you put on a great show and I know for me, I’ll miss you’re performances in the coming weeks!
    Keep at it!!

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      Top 8 on a show that has produced exactly 0 Grammy winners and sole claim to fame is charting #1 on iTunes SOME nights. True, he did something I certainly couldn’t do. But I have to hold off saying he made it. I still maintain no one will remember him a few months from now. I would be hard pressed to name even 4 of last years top 8.

  12. Lourdes says:

    He really should have finished his degree at Yale. He may have a future in music, but I don’t think his talent is so undeniable that he should just toss away all the hard work that presumably got him into Yale in the first place.

  13. Jillian says:

    There is no stopping this dude. He has got it all. Looks, personality and talent. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he is nearly signed by a label already. He has got to have movie and modelling offers rolling in too. There is something very compelling about him, beyond his looks. He is an undeniable star.

  14. Aqueous says:

    Can’t believe how many comments here are about people not liking him.
    Personally I thought he was one of the most skilled vocalists this season technically speaking. None of the other singers have come close to having more creative and precise runs than he did in my opinion (his final performance had some absolutely excellent runs, not just for the show but that I have heard, period). I also felt he had a great naturally resonant tone that was one of the more unique sounding voices on the show, and his diction was very expressive and creative as well. Honestly I think he would have had a better shot at winning if he wasn’t as good looking. Sorry to come off as elitist but it’s common knowledge in the music industry that audiences are ignorant… nothing wrong with that as long as they’re entertained, but to someone who doesn’t know what the hell they’re hearing I can see how it would be easy to dismiss him as a pretty face. So I’ll say this point blank: Yes he’s pretty, but this show has is called “The Voice” not “The Face,” they’re not going to turn around for you if you can’t sing, I don’t care if you look like Johnny Depp.
    Dez has an incredible voice, natural performing ability, and from the sound of this interview he also has the perfectionist attitude that you can’t make it in music without.
    I’ve got a very strong feeling we haven’t seen the last of him.

  15. Laura says:

    He definitely has a future he would be great in Las Vegas at a Lounge/Bar or in a Show!

  16. Linda says:

    Dez is very goodlooking, but that has nothing to do with the way he performs on stage. He can sing any kind of song and be great at it. I believe he will go far in the music industry.

  17. Mary Beth says:

    I thought Dez was amazing! He was able to take any type of song and make it his own, and had such a great voice. I firmly believe we will be seeing him again, and I miss seeing him perform!

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