Kendall Schmidt was a teen heartthrob superstar fawned over by millions of prepubescent girls during his time on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush. He was simultaneously signed to Nick Records while the series aired up until last summer. He’s moved on, but his adoring fans haven’t.
“It’ something that you can’t get used to,” Kendall tells me of the fan-girls swarming around him before our sit-down chat backstage at the MIX 94.1 BITE of Las Vegas music festival. “I’m sure they’re artists out there that probably start to feel like: ‘Well, yeah. Of course they like me because I’m me.’ But I’ve also seen from being in a large band, and now being in my own band where I’m supporting everything and doing it all myself. Obviously with a large base... but I’m still starting down here.”
He lowers his hand.
“After seeing that, I realized you can’t take advantage. You can’t forget [the fans] because they’re the only reason you even have a job. Do people think music just sells itself? People still have to buy tickets. For me, I love it. I won’t get used to it. Girls saying stuff is funny. Personally, with Heffron Drive I would love the fanbase to broaden beyond teenage girls. It’s never something you get used to – fans fawning over you.”
He mentioned he just met a 30-something year old fan – a welcomed addition.
“I will say that it’s changing every day.”
I asked Kendall how he plans to break free from being a tween sensation.
“The music is the main thing. You can do whatever you want. There’s all kind of strategies as far as press stuff and whatever… I want to be known (call me crazy) for making good music and having a reputation of a good guy. Nobody’s perfect. I never will say I am. Musicians are role models. I want to maintain my role model position, and also get new people interested – who might be a little older – who might be like ‘what is this role model thing? This guy’s a good guy. He’s not partying and stuff. Should we like him?’”
I said I recently wrote a story on BreatheHeavy about Hilary Duff who said she felt frustrated growing up with the stigma of needing to be portrayed as a good role model because she wanted to explore herself, but there was “this reputation to hold up or whatever.”
“I think for me – especially with Heffron Drive – and riding this new boundary of having the freedom to not have to worry about everything. When I was in Nickelodeon I wasn’t worrying about everything because of the fans. I was worrying about everything because of the morality clause that you have to sign to be with Nickelodeon. If anything happened just on the off chance of just being a normal person and getting into trouble from time to time. I was worried about that stuff.”
Kendall sees where Hilary Duff’s coming from, but adds she was given a huge gift in return for said burden: fame & fortune.
The 23-year-old is juggling a lot this fall – he’s currently working on a holiday song (possibly more), performing and a follow doc that could show an inside look at his family life, who he’s dating and him as a budding musician.
Is he comfortable opening the door for viewers to judge his personal life?
“I think it’s OK to share a peak into your life intimately, but it depends on what it is. I do not think it’s OK to be known as an idiot. It’s amazing with people like Justin [Bieber], who can get in more and more trouble and only gets more and more famous. Although I will say I don’t think his tickets are going to last infinitely. His tickets aren’t going to sell because of his infamy. He’s going to be known forever for his infamy. As an artist I think that’s pointless.”
An artist Kendall does want to emulate? Sam Smith. He hopes the two can collaborate one day because of their shared talent for writing powerful love songs. He'd also like to try a female duet and an electric dance song, because “these EDM guys probably drive themselves crazy trying to think of an original idea.”
Kendall recently moved to Las Vegas to save money, expand his career and grow into his twenties.
“I’d rather be focused on using every single resource I have to get a band going rather than buying a big house. I don’t own anything. I don’t even own my car.” He pauses for a moment and looks over to the left at his equipment.
“I own all my gear though.”