We had the opportunity to chat with Willett, who openly discusses her new outlook on life after struggling with her weight. She also reveals her thoughts on Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani as a couple, meeting Lance Bass (and Justin Bieber!) and her new music video.
SheKnows: Who or what influences your music?
Erin Willett: My friends, my experiences, where I live. It’s a combination of a lot of things. A lot of my friends are musicians or artists, and their talent always pushes me to think creatively. I also constantly am trying to figure things out, and writing and decompressing is a way for me to analyze and try and grow and understand. I also live in Brooklyn, New York. It is a melting pot of cultures and people. I walk down the street, and there is art on the buildings and people congregating who have been neighbors for years and events and music and freedom. There is an energy in New York that is like nowhere else I’ve been, and I feel free there, and that is inspiring.
SK: You did such an amazing job on The Voice! Why was it so important for you to audition? Did your initial performance help you overcome any obstacles/boundaries? Was it a way for you to push out of your comfort zone?
EW: To be honest, my initial audition was just something I thought would be fun to do with some girlfriends. I never really thought it would go anywhere. Sometimes, as a young artist, I was looking for validation to know I was good enough, and that’s what the initial audition gave me. It made me feel like I was doing something right, even if it is a scary or unstable path.
SK: What made you decide to audition for The Voice and why?
EW: Once again, it wasn’t a big career decision that I had mulled over; I truly went with some girlfriends and had no expectations. I wasn’t putting all my eggs in one basket and feeling like this was the ‘do or die’ of my career; I knew it definitely was a big moment, but I knew if I didn’t get through, I would still try and follow my dreams on some other path.
SK: What was going through your mind when you were auditioning for The Voice, especially as the chairs began to turn?
EW: “Please someone turn around!” There is this anticipation going up on The Voice stage and just wanting to be a part of a team. To be chosen, and not just by anyone, industry elites. There is pressure to be at your best and also proving that you can handle that pressure.
SK: What are your thoughts on Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton as a couple? Did it completely surprise you?
EW: I think if they are happy, then awesome! Blake always was such a genuine guy and hilarious as hell. They both went through personal struggles in the public eye with their breakups, and it seems like they are just letting go and having fun… and after the stress of all that media hoopla, they probably just wanna laugh and have a good time. Erin Willett approves!
SK: What are some of the craziest experiences you’ve had since becoming a household name?
EW: The people you get to meet! Being able to meet fans who look up to me and letting me know they have been inspired by me in some way is so humbling. Also, being in a position where I am meeting people I look up to in the industry.
Meeting Justin Bieber was interesting. We were backstage at The Voice, and he was there premiering his “Boyfriend” music video. I was in six-inch heels, so I was towering over him like a giant. I also hung out with Lance Bass one night while I was living in LA. He was the coolest, most down-to-earth guy ever. We gossiped about The Voice (i.e. Christina [Aguilera]) and talked about where to go in my career. He was super cool, and the 10-year-old me was freaking out.
SK: Do you have any new singles, albums or upcoming performances you’re working on? Would you be willing to give us a sneak peek into your current plans?
EW: I just released my new single,”Out of the Darkness,” which is available now on iTunes. It may be one of my most favorite songs I’ve ever written. It’s just honest about the fears I face trying to “make it” in the industry but also is just a great pop song. The guys at Misson Sound in Brooklyn, New York, brought this song to life. It has really cool layers of percussive elements and is just a truly inspiring song. It’s the direction I want to move in when releasing new music. I also will be releasing a music video for “Out of the Darkness” around the time of The Biggest Loser finale. I am super excited about that. It will be my first real music video, and I can’t wait to showcase my new body and put a story to the new song!
SK: What are some of the biggest struggles you face or have faced and how did you overcome them?
EW: Believing in myself has always been hard. For a long time, I constantly compared myself to others, and it took away from the energy I could have been putting into my career. I started to realize that everyone goes through those doubts, and I need to try and be the best version of me I can — not only for myself but everyone around me. This includes giving myself the opportunity to succeed even when I have doubts. I am only capable of what I allow myself to believe I can do.
SK: What is one of your proudest moments with being on The Biggest Loser? What about your least favorite moment?
EW: My proudest moment was when I made it to Makeover week. It is such a milestone in the process of The Biggest Loser and also a time to reflect on all the hard work you have put in and somewhat of a fresh start into who you want to become after The Biggest Loser. Though I am grateful for everything on The Biggest Loser, I guess my least favorite moment would have to be the very beginning of the season. I had just hit such a low in my life and wanted to start over; I couldn’t figure out what to do next, and I was stuck. Also revealing my eating disorder was definitely hard because it was a secret I kept for so long. I didn’t know how people would react, and I just felt so bare. But though they were hard, I’m grateful for them, because of the amount of fans that have reached out and also the amount of growth I have made from exposing those demons.
SK: What was the most important lesson you took away from The Biggest Loser experience?
EW: That I can be capable of anything if I allow myself to be. I really realized what an obstacle I was being in my own life. Making excuses and not trying because I was scared were my go-to reactions. Nothing was going to change in my life unless I did something about it. It was a hard moment, because I realized if I really wanted to change my life, I was going to have to hold myself accountable and responsible for that change.
SK: As women, we all struggle with some form of body image in our lives. Is there any advice you would like to give to your fans who struggle with body image?
EW: We are so hard on ourselves, it is unbelievable sometimes. The things we say to ourselves or think about when we look in the mirror are so cruel. We have to look at the power we do have and use it to overcome that voice of insecurity. I think mental health is not nearly emphasized as much as it should be in our society, because this cruelty we put ourselves through is part of it. The amount of time I spent on facing my negative conscious has been most of my struggle and changing my mind-set has been the biggest change in my life not my weight. The weight loss has been a secondary change to the mental changes I have made. Weight loss does not fix problems; how you view yourself does. This idea can carry so much further, because if we can just try every day to be the best versions of ourselves, we are offering to the world the best addition to society.
SK: What is your biggest goal as an artist and what do you hope to accomplish in the next few years?
EW: I would like to release an album that I truly believe in, thus it is hard to put a time limit on it. I want to really go deeper and discover myself again through music. I also would like to explore TV and riding avenues to share my self-discoveries to help others have their “aha!” moment.
SK: Tell us three things about yourself that your fans may not know about you?
- I was a tiny tot national champion baton twirler when I was younger.
- I live in a loft in Brooklyn with six other roommates.
- The first song I learned on piano was Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song.”
SK: Have you experienced sexism within the music industry? If so, what happened, and how did you overcome that experience?
EW: Maybe in a way that women music be sexual beings, and as a bigger girl, I couldn’t be looked at in that way for industry standards. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and we are what we want to be, not the label that is placed on us.
We have the power to change that label or not accept that label. I still struggle with this, though, in the sense that I am still figuring out who I am and using my power in the right way. But I also know that I cannot control anyone else’s actions but my own, and how I choose to react to situations.
SK: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
EW: Never considered myself a One Direction fan, but Zayn [Malik]’s new song “Pillowtalk” is fire!