J-14 recently sat down at the SiriusXM Radio studios in New York City to chat exclusively with American Idol season 8 winner Kris Allen, who's currently a celebrity mentor and judge for the web series and talent search Kidz Stars USA. New episodes air every other day featuring the top four finalists Taylor Mae LaCour, Timyra-Joi Beatty, Kiana Brown, and Joshua Bernstein are battling it out in vocal challenges until the winner is announced on October 21. To check out these talented kids, watch the webisodes featuring Kris, and for more information head over to KidzStarUSA.com

We stepped behind the scenes of the web series where Kris dished to us all about what it was like working with the kids for Kidz Stars, the status of his sophomore album, and life after Idol.

J-14: You're currently the celebrity mentor and judge for Kidz Stars USA. How do you think it compares to American Idol with kids so much younger that are dealing with being pushed in to the spotlight?

Kris Allen: It's definitely different, but I feel like for the most part these kids are handling it better probably than maybe I did before all this stuff. I think the competition is a little bit different, but kind of the same deal. They put a video up on the Internet and said, "Hey listen to me sing. I feel like I'm good," and these kids are really confident and maybe that's why it comes across so easy for them. It really does. It's something that I wasn't. I mean when I was that age I didn't expect anything. I wasn't like 'listen to me I can sing' you know so it's been really cool to just watch them just kill it, really. They're so good in interviews and everything. Yes, they have voices but we did interviews in one of these studios and they were all just so good at it, just really mature in their age and it was cool.

J-14: What's been the most rewarding part for you of this process?
Kris: Just for me I feel like I've gotten a lot out of it and like I said it's been very inspiring. These kids are so driven and so, "I want to do this. I love music. This is what I want to do." I wasn't like that. I feel like I'm like that now but sometimes it gets forgotten in the business and all that stuff. These kids just love music, that's why they're doing this and that's why I started making music so it's been very, very inspiring for me. It's been so humbling. It's awesome.

J-14: What's the status of your sophomore album?
Kris: Right now we have a lot of songs and we're trying to get in to the studio as soon as possible. There's no time lines for anything right now. I wish I could say a single's coming out next week or today, I wish I could say that. I can't but the stuff is good. It feels really good, I'm really excited about it and I want people to hear it. It'll get out whenever is the right time, you know? We're going to try and get on the road but we don't want to get on the road unless there's new music so. We're going to hopefully put out a single this year and then get on the road.

J-14: Some new songs of yours leaked on to the web recently. Do you want to confirm or deny if they're new songs or old songs?
Kris: There were three songs that were leaked. One of them, I think the first one was a song that is possibly a contender for the album. And then the two others were songs that were from the last record. I wrote "Love Too Much," with Kevin Rudolf and the other one, to be honest, I didn't remember writing the song which shows you how long ago it was. I was listening to it and was like, "What song is this?" because I didn't remember the title at all and I was listening on my phone and was like, "I don't remember singing this song, I don't remember writing this song." I'm glad that they liked that stuff because some of the stuff that's going to be on the album is better than that so.

J-14: How do you think the sound of this album is going to compare to your debut album?
Kris: The first album I think for what it was it turned out really good, but everything happened really fast. This is obviously not happening really fast for this album. We had four months to make the record and three of those months I was on tour so it was kind of like days off, let's go in to the studio and record a song. So we've obviously had more time to write, a lot more songs to pick from which is going to be hard. There's a large number of songs that are really good which I guess is a good problem to have. I'm very, very excited about this. I really am. I think the songs are better. I think it's going to have a little bit more of a cohesive vibe to it. I'm just excited.

Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Mazza/J-14

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