“I’ve had an aversion to doing any kind of competition for a long time,” the singer says. When he was 18, he tried out for American Idol in San Francisco, where he waited in line overnight, only to be cut off after six seconds of singing, and then left disappointed, he says.
However, in the spirit of brotherly love, which is what King Niko is all about, his bandmates have encouraged him to compete in something like X Factor or The Voice since they won the CWMA. “It was nice of them to say, but I never took it seriously,” Wynder says.
When King Niko played with Royal Bliss on Halloween 2011, Wydner was able to talk with RB’s frontman, Neal Middleton, who had auditioned for The Voice last season and made it all the way to having a televised audition (watch a clip here), although he didn’t proceed further.
“His segment aired, and I thought it was so cool. If a rock singer can do that -- I thought you had to have a really pop voice -- and make it as far as he did, I thought I’d give it a try,” Wydner says.
So, he worked with Camden Chamberlain at Kitefishing Studios -- ”I wanted to do this the right way” -- to record a take of “My Girl” last February. But he ran into awful luck: Every time Wydner tried to upload the video onto The Voice’s audition site, it would either freeze or not complete. “That happened for weeks. Once, I left it on the screen for four days,” he says. But nothing worked.
So, he forgot about it. “‘Reality TV is so fickle,’ I’d tell myself. I was more rationalizing than anything else because I was upset,” Wydner says.
But when a post about The Voice came up in his news feed a few weeks ago, Wydner saw it as something of an omen. And then things just sort of sync'd up for him.
Basically, without getting into too much of the little details, he knew a guy who knew a guy and, in general, Wydner is a smooth talker and an overall nice guy. It was all serendipity and luck. And he sent a couple of killer videos to someone at The Voice. One was him and bandmate Ben Moffat singing a surprise song (watch it here) for City Weekly contributor Bryan Schott’s daughter; the other was of him guest singing with Panic at the Disco (at about 7:30 in this video).
Wydner then received a vague e-mail about him potentially getting booked.
“That’s all I can think about. I can’t relax. Every break I had at work, I was checking my e-mail,” he says. Eventually, he found out that he'd been given an industry-referral pass. Now, he goes to Los Angeles to sing at the VIP industry-referral audition August 15.
So, he’s honing his skills on these three songs that he’ll sing at the audition:
“Nothing Compares 2U” by Sinead O’Connor
“At karaoke, that’s my song.”
"Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees
Originally going to do “All These Things I’ve Done” by Killers, but this has "more range, [it's by a] Utah band and, also, it's a newer song."
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adelle
“It’s really challenging with that super-high note. I’ve seen this sung on two auditions on the show. They are good and impress, yet I feel like I can do better.”
If he makes the cut, he goes back to perform for Carson Daly and other NBC execs, and if that goes well, he moves on to the filming of the show, Wydner says.
Wydner will be in good Utah company if he proceeds. Dia Frampton (of Meg & Dia) finished as runner-up on the first season, I’ve already mentioned Middleton, and Wydner thinks that there has been at least one other guy who received a VIP audition.
“Provo has their thing with the indie bands signing to labels. Maybe this could by our thing; Salt Lake City could be all about The Voice,” Wydner says with a laugh.
Ransom, we wish you luck.