Lakoda Rayne: We found our voice too late in 'The X Factor' finals
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/29/2011
Lakoda Rayne and contestant LeRoy Bell were eliminated from The X Factor, determining the new Fox reality competition's Top 7 acts, during the show's fourth live results show last Wednesday night.
Lakoda Rayne was automatically ousted from the competition after The X Factor host Steve Jones revealed the girls were the bottom act since they had received the lowest amount of home viewer votes cast immediately following last Tuesday night's Top 9 performance show. The X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul -- who was mentoring the girls as her only remaining "Groups" category act -- Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A. Reid did not even have to vote.
During a Tuesday conference call with reporters, the four-member all-girl group talked about their The X Factor experience -- including whether they plan on moving close to each other to continue pursuing their music careers as a group, whether they believed being a group act proved to be much more difficult than performing as a soloist in the competition, why they felt America had trouble connecting to their individual personalities, and what they would have changed to better themselves if they could go back and do the competition again.
How did your overall experience on The X Factor compare to your initial expectations?
Hayley Orrantia: Well, a lot of people expected a manufactured group to not be as successful because we were thrown together and had such a little amount of time working together, but we actually came together really well. We became best friends and like sisters, and I know people are like, "Well that's just things that they say," but it's true.
But it's true because we laugh like sisters, we play like sisters, we argue like sisters, and I think it worked out so well to the point where we don't want to be away from each other. A lot of people expect it to be the complete opposite.
The four of you girls live in different parts of the country. Are you planning on finding a new home base so you can stay together and make music together? What does the future look like for you guys?
Dani Knights: Actually, Paige is staying with me right now. She actually found a place close by here in the Los Angeles County, so we are actually planning on as soon as Hayley and Cari finish school -- which we don't really know at this point -- as soon as they finish school, all of us will work on finding a place together here in the Los Angeles County and of course working on our music, writing songs.
There definitely is a future for us together. It's not something we're just going to let fade out. We were put together for a reason and we feel like it was fate. Yeah, we wouldn't want it any other way but to be in a group and make music together.
What were your best and worst memories of the competition?
Dani Knights: I think our best memories have definitely been getting to work with Paula every single day of our lives. She was honestly there for us so much. She was involved in the entire process. It wasn't just an act for TV to make it look like the judges are involved in our lives.
Paula was really there every step of the way and she's just taught us so much not only about ourselves as artists and performers, but on a more personal level and we just learned so much from her. It was definitely such an amazing experience.
And the worst memory by far, and I think we'd all agree, is having to leave one another. That was definitely the most upsetting thing. I mean, yes it was really upsetting to be eliminated, but I think the hardest part on all of us was having to go our separate ways for a little while until we're able to meet again.
Do you think being in the "Groups" category was more difficult than being a solo artist? How do believe that affected your chances of winning?
Paige Ogle: I think that one advantage for us for being in the group category was that we had each other, and I think it was a lot more fun than being a solo artist because in the group numbers, we had someone to goof around with. But I think a disadvantage to that was that America never really got to know us and connect with us.
Do you feel as though you didn't connect with American viewers because you didn't share any emotional back stories?
Dani Knights: I think that part of why the groups weren't exploited as much this season was just -- Well, I don't really know how to put this. (Laughs) Hayley, want to say something before I try to say it?
Hayley Orrantia: I don't really know. (Laughs)
Dani Knights: Alright, alright. I'll take the reigns on this one. Well I mean, all the other contestants had -- they did have really deep, deep emotional background stories and our story was just kind of coming together as a group and we gave thanks to the people who were really important in our lives.
But I feel like that's just as important as somebody who had to overcome something really difficult in their lives. Just because we didn't have a story like that, I don't think that was a reason that America didn't connect with us.
I just think it was because in seeing our packages that were put on the show before we perform, we had to split up like two minutes between four people -- trying to get to know four people as opposed to solo artists, who that whole set of minutes was dedicated to them and everything about their lives. I just feel like people weren't able to get to know us enough because of that.
What do you wish that America did get to know about you if you had the chance to show them more?
Hayley Orrantia: Something that we all discussed that we wanted to be in the video packages was showing how silly we are because we are four girls who are completely different and from different places. So the one common ground that we had is how goofy we are.
We make silly videos and put them on YouTube all the time and we laugh together and that's the biggest part of us as a group, is that we enjoy having fun together. That's something we really wish we were able to put in the packages and they never really did.
So we decided to kind of take the reigns and make our YouTube videos and promote them online. That way, our supporters have an opportunity to get to know us and see that real side of us. So yeah, just being silly with each other. (Laughs)
Cari Fletcher: We really just wanted to have America get to know us individually. Yes, we love having a good time together, but we all have completely different personalities. The Spice Girls for example, they were four completely different individuals and we are the same way, and I just wish America would be able to get to know us better.
Maybe then, somebody would have a favorite. People would be like, "Oh, I love this about Paige or I love this about Cari or I love this about Dani or Hayley kind of thing," and that was something that didn't happen. We just kind of seemed like four individuals that were just thrown together, but that's not the case at all. We're four different people with different qualities about ourselves.
What do you think you should have or could have done differently in the competition?
Dani Knights: I think we started to get a voice maybe a little bit too late in the competition. We didn't want to step on any toes. This was an incredible opportunity. We were working with absolutely the best of the best in the industry and it wasn't until later that we came to realize, "If we don't start speaking up, we will not be heard."
And we started to -- this competition kind of made us realize what kind of personality we have as a group and what kind of style we have, and that was something we all had to figure out along the process of this competition.
Yeah, so closer to the end, we started to get a voice. We started to really speak up for what we want and we knew exactly what we wanted, what we wanted to wear, and I feel like that may have happened a little bit too late. So, that was one thing. If anybody would like to add on...
Hayley Orrantia: I think that was maybe the only thing because there's a lot you can regret in an opportunity like that, because it is so incredible. But that it definitely one thing that we struggled with during the competition.
Of all your performances, which one do you think best represented the Lakoda Rayne brand and would sound most like something on your future album?
Hayley Orrantia: I think the song that best represents us as a group and what we want to bring to the industry was actually our last performance of "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift. Honestly, after we got off the stage that night, the girls and I said, "If we go out, it would be on this performance that we want to go out after."
We had such a good time performing it and for the first time, we were just like, "Yes, this was it. This is what we should be doing. This is the direction where we should head." So, I think it was a good performance to go out on, because people -- that's something that they will remember us by and something that they'll be looking forward to in the future.
Which act are you rooting for the most?
Paige Ogle: Rachel Crow! Rachel Crow!
Dani Knights: We all kind of have our own little person, but not really. I kind of became friends with everybody and I know everybody wants it just as bad as we do. So, I'm kind of backing everybody up on that, but of course we had our soft spot for Rachel Crow.
I was like the mother of Rachel Crow too, you know? That's just my role in Lakoda Rayne but also with Rachel Crow. So you have your soft spot for certain people, but everybody became friends and we're kind of there to support everybody and back everybody up.
When you girls were formed into a group and you realized there aren't too many groups left out there in the industry anymore, did you see that as a strategic move that might help your futures?
Hayley Orrantia: Oh yeah and there aren't many groups out there right now and I think that's one reason why the judges put us together -- was because there's a gap in the market and it's something that we definitely want to take advantage of, because we love being in this group together and we want to see Lakoda Rayne go further than just The X Factor.
Steve Jones mentioned your "dream was over" after your elimination was announced and you seemed to take his comment personally. Looking back, do you still stand by that reaction?
Paige Ogle: We know that Steve has a difficult job. It's his first year being a host and I think it was just a reaction to what he said. He said, "You're dream is over," and I kind of corrected him, but we don't take it to heart really anymore. Looking back, he said his words wrong. Everybody does it and people need to give him some slack.
You said country music best represents your sound as a group, but the two times you girls landed in the bottom two, it was after you had performed a Keith Urban song and the one by Taylor Swift you had previously mentioned. So why do you think your country songs were the ones that failed to click with viewers or keep you in the competition?
Hayley Orrantia: It was actually interesting because when we performed our Keith Urban song, one of the things we considered to be a possibility of why we were in the bottom two -- but we have absolutely no idea if it was true -- was that the [Country Music Awards] were on the exact same night.
And so, we assumed that maybe our country audience was a little busy looking at their other country artists they love instead of voting. But then we decided to perform the Taylor Swift song and I don't know. It is something that we're comfortable with as a group and I think people enjoyed seeing that from us.
We got the best comments from the judges on those and the best reaction from our supporters, so I'm not really sure why we did get in the bottom for those songs, but I think that's something that we need to go for. There's a gap in the market for that and it's something we all love doing together.
Could you talk about your song selection and how much of a challenge that was week to week?
Dani Knights: We literally spent like 14 hours a day trying to pick a song and trying to find the correct song -- like 14 hours on one day, the day or two days before the show.
So, it would be extremely long days for us trying to find the perfect song, but eventually -- you know what was really ironic, was eventually we ended up with the first song we wanted to sing by the end of the day. We picked the same song, so it ended up being super ironic. But yeah, it was really difficult.
You girls tended to get a lot of mixed signals from the judges about your ensembles and music genres. What did you take away from them that made you realize what you needed to show them in order to really gain their support and approval?
Cari Fletcher: I think that throughout the entire process, in the beginning, we were still trying to figure out who we are. So, we remember when L.A. Reid was saying, "Okay, Lakoda Rayne has an identity crisis. Are they pop or are they country?" And that was something that we just had to overcome ourselves too.
We even needed to figure out what we were, and by the end of the competition, we did it. But the judges criticism and everything like that, it was something that we took into consideration each week.
But everything that they said kind of just helped us grow into what we are. Everything that L.A. Reid did say was something that we took into consideration for future weeks and things like that. It just helped us figure out who we are.
Could you describe each of your distinct personalities and talk a little bit about the relationships that have formed between some of the finalists back stage?
Hayley Orrantia: Normally when we're asked something like this, we give one word for each of the girls. Cari, you should answer this one. You normally answer this one pretty well!
Cari Fletcher: I'll describe each of the girls. Dani is the oldest one of the group, so she's definitely the most nurturing and the most caring -- the one that you always go to when you need somebody to talk to about something or talk about a problem with. She is very motherly, but at the same time, she's such a goofball and that's what we love about her. But Dani is very nurturing and very, very caring.
Paige is extremely rebellious. She's like the one that just has no filter. Whatever comes to mind, Paige just says it. If we've all kind of learned something from Paige, it's that if you don't speak up and say what you want, you'll never get it. So, Paige is definitely that kind of girl.
Hayley is your sneaker, jeans and T-shirt kind of girl -- really down to earth, really funny. She just has a really chill personality and she is hilarious too. She just makes us laugh 27/7.
Dani Knights: And Cari, we wouldn't let you answer for yourself, Cari. That would just be awkward. (Laughs) And Cari, we like to call her our all-American girl. But honestly, Cari is just very, very, very sociable. She can be everybody's best friend and she's a really old 17-year-old in a way.
She's extremely wise and I can literally sit down and have coffee with Cari and have these incredible in-depth conversations -- these wise conversations -- because she's far wiser beyond her years. You could put her in any situation and she'll make it comfortable.
She enjoys a good laugh, so she is definitely a little goofy too. I think that's one thing that all of us do have in common in Lakoda Rayne, is the fact that we are all goofy and we all love to have a good time and love to hangout and meet new people. I think that's one thing that we do have in common.
Paige Ogle: Rachel and [Drew Ryniewicz] are pretty close and me and [Marcus Canty] are from the same place, so we have that bond. Other than that, I think everybody just kind of keeps to themselves.