"Call Me Adam" chats with rising singer and actor Payson Lewis about his cover of Taylor Swift's "Out of the Woods" with Rumer Willis, Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," his break up with Janel Parrish, his fans, staying in shape, and many other aspects of his life and career!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a singer/actor? It's tough to say. I've always had a passion for performance; musical and theatrical. But I never would have had the courage to pursue that passion as a career without the love and support of my family. My mom, dad, and brother have always believed in me, even when I have had my own doubts. I couldn't do it without them.
2. Your latest single is a cover of Taylor Swift's "Out of the Woods" with Rumer Willis. What made you want to cover this particular Taylor Swift song and how did you decide to team up with Rumer Willis? Well, first of all I love the song and, like everyone else, all of Taylor's new record. But this song in particular really spoke to me. When we first started working on it, Ru and I had some "interesting" stuff going on with our relationships...and that's what "Out of the Woods" is all about; Getting through all the stuff that bogs down relationships and that can make you lose sight of the person that you're in the relationship with. But, all that stuff...just trees.
3. What was the best part about working with Rumer? Rumer has become one of my closest friends and working with someone that you genuinely care about and respect is so fulfilling. That and the "onesie parties" we have at her place! Oh, and have you heard her sing?! INCREDIBLE. So, basically there are lots of best parts!
4. Your cover of "Out of the Woods" has over 44,000 views so far on YouTube. What does it mean to you to have that kind of response to this song? It means so much to me that people have enjoyed it enough to share and spread the word about the video. But more than just the number of views, I am BLOWN AWAY by the overwhelmingly positive response it has gotten. I have loved hearing from people who liked the song. It's been really fun getting to interact with people from all over the world who share my love of music and have enjoyed my version of this song.
5. In addition to Taylor Swift, you have covered Sam Smith's "Stay With Me." What do you like most about getting to put your own spin on these popular songs? Do you know if the artists you have been covering ever get to hear your version? If so, what has their feedback been? What's great about music is that it is so deeply personal. There are an infinite number of ways to sing a song. Every single person's version is going to be a little different. I just love taking a song that means one thing to someone and sharing with the world what it means to me. Because in turn, my version will mean something else to someone else. It's never ending and beautiful!
As for the original artist hearing them, I'm not too sure. I was able to send my cover of "Out of the Woods to Jack Antonoff (who co-wrote the song with Taylor) through a mutual songwriting friend. I never heard any feedback. I'm hoping it's because he was just too blown away! :)
6. When you start releasing your own original music, what genre do you think you most likely will want to be part of? I am working on some original music and I really hope to share some of it soon. I think my music is safely in pop territory but avoids being bubblegum. It's "genuine pop," if that makes sense.
7. Who do you hope to get to work with during your career? Wow. That's an incredibly difficult question to answer. There are so many people that I would LOVE to work with. I'm honestly overwhelmed thinking about it. Off the top of my head though, how about Pharrell musically and PT Anderson theatrically.
8. You have a campaign going to encourage fans to help you create music videos with various incentives depending on how much they contribute. From just $1 to $100 or more, fans can be part of your creative process. In creating this campaign, how did you decide on what the incentives would be? What is it like to have fans be part of your creative process? What is their reaction to getting to be involved in this way? To be honest, I'm new to using patreon. But I am incredibly excited about being able to interact with the people who really love my music and want to be more involved. I just thought about what I would want if I were contributing to a musician that I truly supported. I really can't wait to get more involved with all the fans who want to be a part of the creative process!
9. The music industry is vastly different today. What do you find the most exciting aspect to be of the industry today and what are the biggest struggles you face? I think that the most exciting thing about the music industry today is also the thing that all of us have struggled with most. There's no roadmap for success in this industry anymore. We're all just trying to find our way, which is very hard, but very rewarding and exciting.
10. Speaking of struggles, your year-long relationship with Janel Parrish recently ended. In times of adversity, how do you bounce back on your feet? Ah yes. The breakup. I don't want to get too into the details, but we had a really good run and a lot of happy times. Unfortunately, those times had to come to an end. It was VERY difficult for me but luckily I am surrounded by amazing friends and family. They were there for me above and beyond what I ever could have expected. I am very lucky to have each and every one of them and they are almost exclusively responsible for getting me back on my feet.
11. In addition to music, you are also an actor, performing in film, television, and on stage. What do you get from acting that you do not get from music? The two pursuits offer, to me, a creative outlet and a path to the emotions of the audience. I am a very empathetic person. I feel everything around me. That's what I love about music and acting. I don't know though if I can separate what one gives me that the other doesn't. I just think both feed my need to emote and share deep feelings and storytelling with everyone who wants to come along for the ride.
12. What's the best advice you've ever received? My dad always told me to do something every day that improves you and the world around you. It's simple. But it's how I try to live my life. One day at a time. Always trying to make it better and be better than the day before.
13. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer/actor? I guess I've just learned how there isn't anything else I could ever see myself doing. Growing up I had more "sensible" plans for what I was going to do with my life. But I know now that this is what I was put on this earth to do. Once I figured that out, I was free to find out the things about me that drive that sole purpose.
14. How do you want to be remembered? First and foremost, I just want to be remembered for being a good person. I don't think there is anything more important to being good to the people around you. I also hope to uplift and inspire some people along the way.
15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I don't know that it's that super, but I would love to not need to sleep. There's just too much I want to do on a daily basis to fit into 16 waking hours. I could really use those pesky 8 hours of sleep for other stuff if I didn't need to, you know, sleep or whatever!
16. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Brussell sprouts. I don't think people would eat me if I were a Brussell sprout flavored lifesaver. Even though I do LOVE Brussel sprouts...a candy flavor version just sounds weird. I'm all about self-preservation.
17. Favorite way to stay in shape? I HATE working out. But to stay in shape I force myself to do a little regimen of push-ups and sit-ups. 10 minutes a day. It's just enough to keep me looking alright.
18. Boxers or Briefs? Both. I don't discriminate against any underwear. I'm an equal opportunity underwearer!
Payson Lewis is an actor and singer originally from Philadelphia, PA. He graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. While at USC he was a member of the 3-time ICCA champion a cappella group, the SoCal VoCals. Since graduating, Payson has pursued a career in music and on TV with appearances on Revenge (ABC), How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Rules of Engagement (CBS), Love Bites (NBC), VicTORIous (Nickelodeon), and was a Top-4 Finalist on The Sing-Off (NBC).
In addition to other recent TV appearances, he's been seen in a number of notable LA Theater productions including Glory|Struck productions' Bare as "Peter" (BroadwayWorld Award Winner: Best Leading Actor in a Musical) and as "Rocky Horror" in The Rocky Horror Show. He's also been seen every weekend for the last two years in the hit "For The Record" series at Rockwell and, more recently, DBA Hollywood with the likes of Tracie Thoms, Barrett Foa, Steve Kazee, Janel Parrish, and Rumer Willis.