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David Archuleta aims to spread Christmas spirit at Orem show

Winter is in the air for Utah-based pop singer-songwriter David Archuleta as he prepares to bring his Christmas tour to the UCCU Center in Orem next week.

The “American Idol” Season 7 runner-up recently caught up with the Daily Herald in a phone interview on his new “Winter in the Air” album, holiday tour and career plans. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

DAILY HERALD: From your perspective, how does your new Christmas album compare with your last Christmas album?

DAVID ARCHULETA: I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a second Christmas album, even though I was already considering it as I was making that first one, “Christmas from the Heart” is what it was called. But I wanted to make sure that I captured the essence of what Christmas really is about, so I definitely made sure it was a more reverent album, especially because that time of life, it was so hectic with “American Idol.” I saw how someone in the spotlight can get a lot of attention and recognition and a lot of compliments and praise and people wearing your T-shirts and listening to your voice and buying your pictures to put on their walls and stuff like that. It’s crazy, and so to do an album about Christ and to remember who receives the glory and who receives the honor and the praise and always deserves it, the Savior, was a really therapeutic project to get to do, so I’m happy that I have that album.

And then this album, I mean it still has songs that are sacred and reverent like “Mary, Did You Know?” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” That’s what Christmas songs, most of them, are about anyway because that’s what Christmas is about. But I wanted to have a little more fun this time as well because I do love the happy, bouncy, cheerful songs as well like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Holly Jolly Christmas,” so I did that. I put “Holly Jolly Christmas” on this album with “White Christmas” and songs that just, maybe they’re not as reverent, but they still capture that special feeling that you feel during the holidays with your family and songs that bring memories back to you. And my first single is actually an original that I wrote with a couple of my friends, “Christmas Every Day,” and it’s kind of that same thing, I was like, “I want to push myself and write a fun, bouncy Christmas song that people would get sick of because it’s too catchy and it, I don’t know, gets stuck in their head or something.”

D.H.: What’s unique for you about making a Christmas album versus just a regular album?

D.A.: I think it’s an opportunity to make sacred, reverent music that everyone will open their ears to listen to. ... Christmas music is commercial enough, it’s heard everywhere enough each year during the holidays, that people are comfortable with it and they’ll receive the spirit of Christmas into their lives, into their houses and into their hearts, and I think it’s very special because I’ve recorded more sacred songs before, and that reaches a different audience. It usually gets to people who are open minded, who are your fans or who are looking for more spiritual songs. Christmas music, it reaches an audience who doesn’t really look for spiritual music. They’re not looking for what’s playing on K-Love and Christian radio, but for some reason with Christmas, they allow it, and I think it’s a powerful thing and it connects everyone.

I think it connects everyone to what really matters most in life, which is that spirit that you feel and that love of a higher being. You allow that to enter, even if you don’t fully understand it. And I just love it, singing all these songs about the most important thing to ever occur in this world, the birth of the Savior, and what he brought in his life and in his death and up till now. I just love it all and to sing about it every night on Christmas concerts, it’s just super cool.

D.H.: What is your plan for your tour concerts and what can audience members expect?

D.A.: I’ll be singing just the Christmas classics, as well as a few of my Christmas originals that I have written. I have one original Christmas song on my first album, and I have written three original Christmas songs for this new album, so it’ll be a mixture of songs from that first album and now my second Christmas album.

That and also with a little behind (the) story of why some of these songs were chosen and why I’ve chosen to sing them and just the thoughts that come to me. I’m hoping that people can come and they can kind of just sit … like when you go into a Jacuzzi and you just kind of go and sink into the warm water and just kind of relax, that’s what I want people to do with the Christmas memories, that they can come and feel just that good, holiday, Christmas spirit when they come and have little, nice flashbacks of their favorite times of the season.

D.H.: What’s unique about performing in Utah?

D.A.: It’s the hometown crowd. It’s where I grew up. I never know who I’ll see that I know from my childhood at the concerts there, which is pretty funny to see as well, and you just always have a special connection with where you grew up and the people there. There’s an understanding that you have of each other, so it’s fun that even though I travel and perform in other places … whether it’s different states, different countries, and you are able to come back home and bring what you’ve learned and what you’ve seen, what you’ve experienced, back home.

D.H.: What are some of your goals moving forward with your music?

D.A.: I am already working on another pop album, so I’ve been writing for that, so I don’t know exactly what will happen with the timing of everything next year, but I will always continue releasing new music and just performing and seeing what else I can share.

I’ve taken a lot of this year just kind of trying to understand myself better and going to therapy, and it’s been a really great thing. I think there’s a lot of stigma about therapy and taking time to get to know yourself because they usually think, “Oh, you do that if there’s something wrong with you,” but it’s kind of like going to the doctor. Just like you need a physical checkup, maybe there’s some minor issues that you can work on and improve on and be aware of, be mindful of, it’s the same with your mental health. And I guess we’re moving into times that we’re more aware that we have mental health needs and mental health awareness, so a lot of the songs I’ve been writing have been kind of about that, about realizing, “Hey, this is who I am, and I’m OK with that.”

The things that I bothered myself with, I understand more, and I think it’s growing to love myself, and I feel like I’m accomplishing that. I don’t think I was able to say that I loved myself before. Maybe I felt like I was being selfish or egotistic doing that, but I’ve realized you can do that and be grateful for who you are, even with the flaws that you have and the things that you may not do as well as other people, you can still love yourself, and so I feel like a lot of the new music is coming from that place, kind of transitioning. I guess a lot of my last album was about that, but this is slightly deeper, but yet a lot more fun because I feel like I’m coming from a happier a place. …

That’s kind of where I am and probably more relationship-based songs as well because I always avoided them before, but I feel like I’m ready to write more of those kind of songs this time, moving forward.