Former American Idol contestant Wyatt Pike’s new song is a project fit for 2 Park City residents
‘Deep Blue’ available digitally
Singer-songwriter Wyatt Pike stunned his fans last year when he suddenly dropped out of “American Idol” after making the competition’s Top 12.
“At the end of the day, competitive music on reality TV, I discovered, is not my thing,” said Pike, a Parkite who moved to Los Angeles last fall. “As many great things I learned and gained from it, all kinds of stress and the nine yards associated with that just became too much.”
That said, Pike doesn’t regret his time on the show, during which he became a fan favorite and earned the praises of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.
“There are so many components that went into that show, especially behind the scenes,” he said. “I learned great lessons from great players and vocal coaches, in terms of my voice to arrangement and business knowledge.”
Pike also made some great friends, including singer, songwriter and producer Francisco Martin, who was one of the “American Idol” contestants from Season 18.
“When (‘American Idol’) brought back some people from the season before us, a few of us went to hang out with Francisco,” Pike said. “After I finished the show, we didn’t keep too much in touch over the summer, but when I moved to L.A., we reconnected.”
That reconnection proved to be fruitful. Not only did the two become close friends, they wrote a new song, “Deep Blue,” that was released Friday on all digital streaming platforms.
“I was two weeks living in L.A. and hadn’t done any writing sessions, when Francisco invited me over to his house for dinner and songwriting,” Pike said.
The two wrote “Deep Blue” during an all-nighter, according to Pike.
“I got there at 7 o’clock that evening, and at 7 a.m. we were still awake, heading to IHOP with the full song playing on the Bluetooth,” he said. “It was one of the faster songs I have written. We just sat down and it came out of the clouds.”
“Deep Blue” is also the first song Pike had co-written with someone.
“I enjoy co-writing, because there are all kinds of things that I would not have come up on my own that come up when I’m writing with somebody,” he said. “Francisco is a very talented writer and producer, and he sometimes hears a lot of things before I can.”
The two recorded a demo version of the song and Pike sent it off to trusted friends for feedback. One of those friends was Peter Hanaman, another L.A. transplant from Park City, who is a staff and assistant engineer at The Village Studios, known for its work with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Beck and Snoop Dogg, to name a few.
“Peter called me a few seconds later and said he liked the song and wanted to work on it,” Pike said. “We booked out Studio B and he was super pumped to have a day off to work on the song while at his work. I was super stoked to be in a room where a lot of musical magic has happened.”
The moment Hanaman first heard “Deep Blue,” he knew he wanted to produce and engineer it.
“When Wyatt sends me music, I always push him hard to go back and revisit things to see how he could improvise melodies here and lyrics there, but that song he sent me was one of the first that really grabbed me,” Hanaman said. “It was just all there, and I hopped on quickly and asked him to send over the stems, all the parts they worked on in the writing sessions, and ran from there.”
Hanaman, who graduated from Park City High School in 2015, began working on “Deep Blue” in his home studio, before the two were able to meet at The Village.
“I sort of fleshed out the whole song and it started from there,” he said. “It took a while for the thing to come together, especially working at the level we do. We don’t have studio backing, and we don’t have an enormous budget to work with.”
Usually when a record label backs a song, they provide funds for producers, engineers, mixers and someone to master the recording, but Pike and Hanaman didn’t have that luxury.
“All of those hats were worn by us, but it was super cool,” said Hanaman, who has also worked with OSTON, another “American Idol” contestant from Park City. “It came together so easily.”
Hanaman and Pike had crossed paths when they both lived in Park City. They were both involved in the high school band program led by Chris Taylor and Bret Hughes, but they weren’t close friends due to a four-year age difference.
“Coming up in the Park City School District band program, you always have an idea of who has got talent and who is using it,” Hanaman said. “I’m four years older than Wyatt, so we never were at the same school together. But I knew about this kid who sang and played guitar, and kind of had something going on from the time he was quite young.”
The two were formally introduced while teaching sailing for Park City Sailing.
“It was during the summer job after my freshman year of college,” Hanaman said. “Wyatt’s dad ran the program, and Wyatt rowed up as one of the instructors. That was the first time we worked together.”
The two also bonded over the Berklee College of Music.
“Peter was already at Berklee, a place I had a lot of interest in,” Pike said.
In March 2020. Pike’s dream came true when he was accepted into the college, but due to COVID-19, he took classes virtually.
At that time, Hanaman, a one-time member of the Park City Ski Team, had already landed his job at The Village, after spending a few years in Nashville.
“I studied music production and engineering for four years at Berklee, and I had professors who helped me see the bigger picture as far as making it in the music business,” he said. “They showed me that those opportunities happened in three cities — New York, Nashville and L.A.”
Hanaman knew he didn’t want to live in New York, so he found an unpaid internship in Music City, U.S.A.
“Quickly I discovered with the labor laws in Tennessee that you can be stuck as an unpaid intern for as long as studio owners see fit,” he said. “At that same time, I realized unpaid internships don’t pay the rent.”
Hanaman decided to switch states after his family’s Thanksgiving dinner at his grandmother’s house in San Diego.
“I ended up driving up to L.A., after making some appointments with some people I knew up there and interviewed at a couple of studios,” he said. “I got two job offers, flew back to Nashville, packed up my stuff and drove back.”
Hanaman’s instincts and knowledge around the studio helped Pike find the sound he wanted for “Deep Blue.”
“He’s great at putting up some guard rails for me to help with getting a finished product, without me having to try out this and that and three other things on the guitar,” Pike said.
Hanaman, in turn, enjoyed working with Pike.
“It’s already cool enough that I get to work in a place with legendary people, but to work with someone like Wyatt, who has a lot of talent and someone who I consider a friend, is like being a big brother and coworker all at once. And it’s something we can do for the rest of our lives.”
Park City Institute’s 2023-24 Main Stage season includes Grammy winners, historians, dance and a puppy show.
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