"I'm just way more comfortable now. I'm going to be able to do my thing on my stage and really show everybody what I can do without that dome over me," he told reporters during a Friday conference call.
"It was amazing, American Idol was amazing -- they gave me this opportunity and I would be here without them. But now I can do my own thing and it's the next step."
The 23-year-old from Mount Prospect, IL defeated Crystal Bowersox and was crowned American Idol's ninth-season winner during Wednesday night's live finale broadcast on Fox.
"It could have gone either way," Dewyze told reporters about the finale.
Dewyze described American Idol as a "big game of play by the rules," and one of the rules he least liked was the time constraints on contestants' performances.
"I'm the kind of person that when I'm on stage I like to build -- I like to build up to something. But we get a minute-and-a-half, and that's the game. That was a challenging part of it all," he explained.
"For me, I'm just excited to get on the big stage and really put on a performance and put on a show without time limits, without judging. Going through the process that I did really helped because those are the scariest conditions you can be under -- being judged by people in front of national television."
Another "part of the game" Dewyze discussed was that contestants need to "go up there and play cover songs" and "make it an original," which he feels may turn a lot of potential contestants away.
"I think a big part of American Idol that scares people and actually has stopped people from trying out is the fact that you do have to do things that aren't necessarily your genre," he said.
However Dewyze said he feels he accomplished the task.
"I think I was able to do that. It was frustrating at times; I won't lie. There's some songs I would never sing in a million years, but I signed up for it. That's the rules. You play by them and you get by them the best you can," he explained.
"I just wanted to take every song and make it sound like a song that Lee sang. The judges encouraged me. They said, 'You had some great arrangements.' My thing was, I went to the studio and we were given free range to arrange the song how we wanted, and I did. That was kind of what got me through that part of it because if it was just a matter of going up there and singing songs exactly how they were written, that would have been a lot more difficult than it was."
Dewyze's first single will be his rendition of U2's "Beautiful Day," which he defended when asked if the absence of an original song frustrated him.
"I like that song a lot. It's a really good song," he said.
"Is it something that is necessarily my genre? No. But again, there were songs on the table and I went with the one that would represent me the best because this year they didn't have an original song written for this specifically."
Dewyze thanked fans who supported him and explained why he thinks he resonated with so many viewers.
"I think that throughout the show -- even in the beginning when I was a little more reserved -- I think I'm a real guy," he said.
"On camera or off camera, I stay true to myself. I really wanted my experience on the show to be about me and my performing and my music. I think I can connect with an audience because I know what it's like to be on the other side of it."
In addition, Dewyze said it was always "about that moment" of performing.
"I put my emotions into every song, I connected with every song the best I can," he said.
Dewyze said he received a major lift during his hometown visit at the end of the competition.
"It really gave me a sense that when I came back I was doing the right thing and just keep doing what I'm doing and staying true to what I told myself I'd do from the beginning -- and that's go up there and give everything I have. Sometimes it's not going to be the best, and I'm aware of that," he said.
"That's part of it, learning from it and getting over it and not letting that bring you down."
American Idol's ninth-season finale doubled as a farewell to Simon Cowell, who has left the show to instead focus on launching an American version of his Idol-like British The X Factor reality competition on Fox in Fall 2011.
Dewyze told reporters he doesn't feel like Cowell "stole the spotlight" and instead said it was simply "two big things going on in one night" that were "fun to be a part of."
"He definitely shared the spotlight, and that's okay because he's been a huge part of the reason why the show's been a success," said Dewyze. "For them to say bye to him the way they did was really cool and I thought they did a good job."
"There's a line you cross once you get to this point, and it's like I joined them in a sense. I feel the accomplishments they have," he said.
"For me -- because I won American Idol, which is amazing -- but it's also a new beginning and time for me to really show what I have and what I can do. I just look for them for inspiration. They've been through the same process and they've been able to make their marks on music the same way I want to make my mark on music."
While he's been on his American Idol journey, some of the original material Dewyze did before the show has been gaining additional attention, which he said is an honor.
"As far as anything I did before the show, that's a stage of my life that I'm obviously proud of and I've learned a lot from a lot of my past experiences through music," he said. "But I'm really looking forward to the new album I'm going to be making now."
Dewyze said he's "psyched" about the opportunity to "make an unbelievable album."
"I want the album that I make to be something I'm happy with," he explained.
"I'd like to have some folk-rock kind of alternative vibe to it. I want it to be very earthy, but at the same time be able to reach out to a lot of different kinds of people. I think I've expressed that to the people that are in charge, and they're all for it. They're ready to work with me, and it's a really good relationship."
In addition, Dewyze said he feels that 19 Recordings Limited and RCA Records -- with whom he inked his record deal -- want him to succeed on his terms.
"Truthfully I think what they want is for you to do what you're best at and you're proud of and confident in. That's what they're doing," he said.
"We have a lot more things to talk about, but I'm just looking to make an album that really speaks to everybody -- good stories and good music to back it up."
(Photo credit Vince Bucci/FOX)
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