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Ask Anything: 10 questions with American Idol's Anoop Desai

American Idol's Anoop Desai answers your questions about groupies, fan encounters and the one song he'd like to sing.

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Editor's Note: Anoop stopped by WRAL's studios on May 27. You can watch his Ask Anything interview or read the transcript below.
Where are some of your favorite places in North Carolina? Restaurants, cities, beaches, etc.? – Heather, Goldsboro

We have beaches, the Piedmont and the mountains. So, it’s like, I love everything about the scenery. I love going to my friend’s mountain cabin in Ashe County. I love going to the beach, and I love Chapel Hill, the Triangle area. I mentioned the cabin in the mountains. It’s really relaxing. But most of my time I spend here, so I love Chapel Hill, obviously … I love Sunrise (Biscuits) and Sunrise loves me … I love Allen & Son, right outside Chapel Hill … When I was growing up, we would go to the Angus Barn every single year ‘cause I love the Angus Barn so much. And they have these things, it’s like a special dinner once a month where you go down into the cellar, and we did that for my 21st birthday. That was amazing.

Hey there Anoop! Have you been to India? If yes, when was it and how was it? if no, do you ever want to visit India? Thanks, Anoop. – Luz Mae, Davao City, Philippines

I have. I’ve been maybe three times. Although I haven’t been for like 12 years now. The last time I went was in ‘97, and that was a lot of fun. I guess my mom was going there on a business trip and so we sorta tagged along. We were there for a month. It was a really great winter vacation. We went all around the country. I still have some family there, but most of my dad’s family is in the United States now, and my mom’s immediate family is in South Africa. She grew up in South Africa. I guess we don’t really have that much family there anymore, but I’d love to go (back) because I think it’s changed a lot since I was there last. And hopefully I can go to India again on a tour someday.

When you were voted off the show, did you move out of the mansion and where did you stay after that? – sww, Chapel Hill

Yes, you leave the mansion. I was in LA for about four or five days after I left the mansion. And then we went to New York for press and then I was here for about a week. And then I went back to LA to practice for the finale. It has been back and forth. And then I’m back in LA in another week to practice for the tour.

Do you notice any difference in female attention since you have had AI fame? If so, how do you handle it and weed out the "groupies"? – purplecrossbutterfly, Raleigh

I have noticed a difference, yeah. I like to talk to everyone. I like to talk to people. That’s my thing. The thing I don’t like is if someone … a lot of people expect you to take pictures with them and they’ll just grab you and say, "Hey, take a picture with me." And those are the people that I’m just like, "OK. Hi. How are you? Good to meet you." I really do appreciate anyone that wants to talk to me and wants to get to know me, especially when I’m in Chapel Hill because I have something in common with those people. I love finding things that I have in common with different people. That’s the great part about this whole thing. You have this level of exposure and you get to meet people you never thought that you would get to meet. It’s been great.

Hi Anoop! You are amazing! What I would like to know is from the time you first went on Idol, what have been some of the most interesting fan encounters you've experienced? Also I know there's been a lot of signs for you from the audience during your run on the show. What are some of your favorites that you remember? – aznchica2002, Los Angeles

Thank you! The signs, to be honest with you, when you’re on stage you can’t really see anything in the audience because we have lights on us. We can see the judges ‘cause they’re lit. I don’t really remember most of the signs. The fan encounters though have been really cool for the most part. I mentioned that there are some people that just will take you and, "Hey take a picture!" There are some people that are very bossy. I don’t like people coming up to me and grabbing me. Actually, at the finale we were doing the press thing and I was walking down. They have fans on both sides. They have cops and these barriers set up. And so I was just sorta shaking hands and saying hi to people. But we had to go, so I didn’t have time to take pictures and there were three or four people who grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go. I was like, "I need to leave." I want to take pictures and I want to sign everything that I can ‘cause I appreciate the people so much that are willing to wait there. But, yeah, people were tugging at my clothes and stuff like that. I was like, OK, here’s the line and there’s you, so.

Anoop, you are one of season 8's favorite contestants over at Idolatry (the hilarious American Idol video show at EW.com). Did you monitor the blogs, etc. for feedback on your image and how you were coming across on the show? – Kathryn, Raleigh

I did. I watched Idol Chitchat and I watched Idolatry. Those were actually two of the only ones I watched. I’m being completely honest. I like things like this (interview), because there are a lot of people that just write things that bash you just for the sake of writing them. ‘Cause they know they don’t have a chance in hell of ever meeting you or saying it to your face. There are people like Idolatry and like y’all who talk about the show because they’re fans of the show. It’s just like they’re having a conversation. It’s banter and it’s witty, which I appreciate. I didn’t really go on to many of the message boards or anything like that. I mean, I read them every once in awhile. I think people that post on message boards a lot of times and notice those things either have too much time on their hands or are saying it because they have a really, really strong opinion. But that doesn’t mean it should affect me. One of the things that you learn in statistics is that the only people who answer surveys are people that have really, really strong opinions. Thank you Mr. Wilson, by the way! So, the people that love you are the people that are crazy about you. And the people that hate you on those boards … what you have to realize is those are the outliers. There’s 30 million people in between that kinda like you or kinda dislike you. It’s either way. The most important thing is just to be you. You can’t pay attention to all the things people say or you’ll drive yourself insane.

While on the show, do you have someone that recommends what you wear, or how you dress, sort of like an advisor behind the scenes and while on the show, could you talk with family and friends each week or were you banned from contacting anyone outside of the show? – Audra, Louisburg

Yeah. Miles and Art at Idol are sort of our fashion gurus, at least for the guys. We’d go shopping with them every week and sort of try to pick out clothes. The only times that we’re ever told "Wear this!" is for like the Ford music videos and for the big group numbers and things like that. They’re great about picking out stuff that we look good in and fits the scene. Like I’ve been saying, all the people that are associated with the show are such professionals and are so good at what they do. It was a pleasure to be around them.

We love you, just wondering did they compensate you while you were on American idol, and was it a lot, thanks – Chris, Durham

Yeah, sure, we got sort of a performance fee, because we’re represented by an agency and we’re in the union. Yeah, we got paid. A lot of the people on the show were not working (their normal jobs), so there has to be some way that they’re able to pay their rent at home or provide for their families at home, so that was good.

Are you looking for new original material to record? Local musicians want to submit material to you. – Val, Raleigh

Yeah, that would be awesome. I can’t do anything. Right now, we’re all represented by 19 Entertainment, so get in contact with 19. That’d be cool. If 19 sees that there’s a lot of interest in me, then maybe they might be more interested in me, too.

If you could stand before America, and sing just one more song, what song would you choose to sing and why? – Odellia, Hurdle Mills

That’s a tough one. That’s a really tough one. I would love to get to sing just one of Steve Wonder's ballads that are so beautiful and some of my favorite songs. “All is Fair in Love” or “You and I.” Any of those songs that just every time you hear them, for me, they sort of evoke an emotional reaction. I would love to get the opportunity to get to do that on stage in front of people. But if you want to hear me sing a song that I’ve never sung before, the place to do that is the American Idol tour. The American Idol tour is coming up and we’re going to be in Greensboro and Charlotte. 

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