Tim Halperin is startling. The YouPlusDallas team is standing in line for our press passes at the House of Blues box office, when Halperin unexpectedly descends a staircase near our position in line; a bold move for any artist, especially skyrocketed-to-fame American Idol alums. He could potentially encounter a teenage screaming mob at any point in the open. When he catches the eyes of a girl with long blonde hair, she immediately runs up to him upon recognition, freaking out on cue, but this doesn’t shake him. Handling the situation in a professional manner, pictures are taken, hugs are given, and finally, it is my turn to approach the blue-eyed singer. “Hey!” he says, energetically shaking my hand, “Is everything going okay?” Fulfilling our last minute video interview request, Halperin charms the box office into granting us an extra photo pass and we head into the venue to set up for our interview.
His wrists are covered in bracelets, beaded, woven and banded multicolors engulfing his forearms: decoration that will color his time at the keyboard in the hours to come. Wearing a white T-shirt under a puffy brown vest, Halperin guides our team the back way through the House of Blues kitchen and up the freight elevator. The doors open to the exclusive Foundation Room and we settle into a colorful side room, the walls adorned with images of kama sutra poses.
“American Idol,” he exhausts a sigh heavy with the weight of life-changing memories, “good times.” Having recently come off a successful stint on the 10th season of the unflinchingly popular reality television show, Halperin ran into a bit of an issue following the season’s end. “I couldn’t release my own music for a little while and that was hard for me because I had been a singer-songwriter for a couple of years, so coming off the show was difficult; but on the flip side, it was incredible.”
Since Idol, he has noticed a change in the way fans approach him. “You can definitely tell which people became fans after seeing me on Idol,” he says, referring to the doe-eyed girls who approached him outside the venue. Remaining in the competition as a Top 12 male contender gave him a great deal of exposure. “[It] absolutely gave me a ton of momentum. It’s definitely been a whirlwind and felt like a dream the whole time.”
Since his return from primetime, Halperin, a TCU alum, has enjoyed attention from a wealth of local radio stations, the most prominent being the morning show on 106.1 KISS FM, hosted by Kidd Kraddick.
“[Kidd] has doubled this sort of thing I had going with American Idol in terms of fan base, in terms of promotion and in terms of people hearing my music.
Being on his show for such an extended period of time, people got to know who I was as a person. They got to know my artistry because I had my own take on songs – but they also got to know my personality. For an artist – someone who wants a career in music – that is huge.”
A Fort Worth via Nebraska transplant, Halperin is now an official resident of the Metroplex, and despite his national fame, is a default North Texas artist. “I think the Dallas Fort Worth music scene is great, there are some really cool venues and of course some incredible acts that I have fortunately had the chance to play with over the years.
You know, when people think about Dallas or Fort Worth, they don’t really see it as one of the major music towns in the country, but I think it’s really on the rise. To be honest with you, I think there are a lot of music business people who are moving to Dallas. There’s a lot of talent here, it’s in a good place right now. There’s a sort of feel of community around the music scene in the DFW area. Everyone is really in this together.”
If you track Halperin’s time on Idol by watching his clips on YouTube, you can see superstar judge Jennifer Lopez mouth the words ‘I love him’ from the judges’ table during one of his performances. “That was insane,” he recalls. “I had a huge crush on [Lopez] growing up. I think she’s an incredible artist. I love what she’s done and I love that she’s so ambitious as well. To hear her say, ‘I love your tone, I love what you’re doing’ is so motivating for anybody.”
Halperin has a self-motivated knack for keeping up with his fans via Twitter. “I love interacting with people,” he says of the social media aspect of his career. “Don’t be afraid to say hey or ask a question.” Not only does he respond to comments, he gets his fans involved in his music as well. Before tonight’s show at HOB Dallas, he asked fans ten random questions with the intention of putting the answers into a song for a one time only performance. Answers to questions such as “What is the worst pick up line you’ve ever heard?” and “Describe you’re perfect date” were tweeted to the singer-songwriter.
“There’s some pretty nasty pickup lines out there, but the most clean of those that I’ve heard is pretty bad,” Halperin says with a laugh. “That whole, ‘you know the distance from here to here is the same distance from here to here?’” he says, miming the distance around his shoulders, “which is a way to get a girl to let you put your arm around her. So I may or may not have used that for myself a couple of times. But it’s just so cheesy it’s funny. It definitely worked.”
Underneath his adorably goofy exterior, Halperin is a hardcore romantic. Admirably so, the kind of guy you’d want a boyfriend to be more like. “My perfect date,” he begins, his blue eyes searching for the ultimate answer, “I’m a very nostalgic romantic kind of guy. Obviously, I write love songs pretty much for a living, so the kinds of dates that I love are sort of spontaneous.” We’re listening. “For instance, if I’m going to go on a date with somebody, I would like to surprise [her] and maybe drive out about an hour or two to an unknown, sort of off the radar restaurant, have dinner and maybe go to a drive-in movie. The unexpected kind of things.”
Fidgeting on the Foundation Room sofa, he continues to open up a little more. “I try to be as vulnerable as possible with my music. ‘The Last Song’ – that song is sort of coming to that resolution place – if you’ve broken up with somebody, you tend to think about them and memories with that person. It’s coming to that place of being ready to move on,” he says. “So far what I’ve seen is that people relate to that song, whether it’s a break up or not. A lot of people are moving on from things in their lives and are getting to that point of moving forward, so its been encouraging to see that kind of response.”
Tonight, Halperin is performing at House of Blues Dallas, his first show at the venue. He enters the Cambridge Room from the double doors situated stage right, and audible gasps escape the mouths of the front row audience members. Used to the ever-present cameras on Idol, Halperin makes big eyes at our videocamera, gives his friends at the side stage a bro-hug and rushes onstage to greet his clamoring fans.
Halperin has an endearing quality about him; almost a nerdy charm, positively bubbly as he talks to the audience through awkward one-liners. “I kicked my water over in a fit of joy,” he announces after an explosive version of “Crash Course.”
Dallas Observer’s Daniel Hopkins is the drummer-for-hire, learning an impressive 15 songs in a day’s time. The set includes “She Sets Me Free” followed by “She Runs,” a song that garnered buzz before American Idol.
As you’re reading this, the only way to currently get a hold of Halperin’s music is to purchase one of his five tracks available on iTunes (which for uber fans merely serves as an amuse-bouche), download the (free) Acoustic Sessions from his website, or exhaust the refresh button on his YouTube account. But that is soon to change. “This is totally a secret so you can’t tell anybody,” he jokes, and announces the release date of Rise and Fall, his first full-length album, to the crowd. Earlier in the day, he explained the meaning behind the title to us. “The last couple years of my life have sort of been this cyclical thing, whether it be relationships or the whole American Idol experience. I think ‘Rise and Fall’ definitely not only illustrates my life, but also all these songs are just an example of that.”
Halperin’s supportive fans, along with a significant amount of Idol exposure, have given him the ability to pursue music full-time. “I don’t know if you guys know how awesome you are,” he says to his audience. “I didn’t foresee [myself] being able to do this where I am right now, so [your] support means the world.”
During our video interview, the soulful Midwestern boy let us in on a secret. “I’m going to release the album September 27th, which is the same week my American Idol contract expires. Coincidence?” He asks this with a sly narrowing of the eyes, his expression moving into a coy smile. “I’ll let you be the judge.”
Now Hear This: “Memories on the Ground” from Halperin’s Acoustic Sessions. By the way, you can download it for free. Free music. I said it’s free, right?
Tim Halperin’s debut album Rise and Fall will be released on iTunes September 27. Photography in this article by Emili Carmichael
Laura Stillo is the Arts & Entertainment Writer and Creative Social Media Producer for YouPlusDallas. Follow her on Twitter at @laurastillo.