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Maybe moving from the Bay Area to Los Angeles was inevitable for 20-year-old Francisco Martin. However, the move 10 months ago was not easy.

There was the weather adjustment. And people are, well, different. And the food. I can’t forget the food. For the talented Filipino-American singer and songwriter, it’s easier to find a waiter who doesn’t have an actor profile than it is to find an adobo.

“I love Filipino cuisine. When I moved, I was homesick for the food, ”said Martin, drawing on his father’s traditional recipes.

“I introduced all of my friends who haven’t eaten Filipino food,” Martin said. “Because of my Filipino roots, I like to share my culture with people. I love this bond with my parents. This is what I grew up on and I am very grateful for it.

Martin managed to squeeze in 40 minutes on Tuesday for a phone interview as he prepared for his first nationwide tour, with a date on October 20 at the Holy Diver in Sacramento and a performance on October 21 at the Brick & Mortar of San Francisco.

It’s been a whirlwind since the former San Franciscan reached the American Idol Season 18 finale in 2020. When Idol judge Katy Perry says “You’ve got an amazing voice” and country star panelist Luke Bryan proclaims that you are “a future superstar”, people are noticing.

And Martin was reluctant to audition for the reality show, seen by an estimated 6.5 million viewers each week.

Bay Area native Francisco Martin qualified for last year’s American Idol final. Martin, 20, kicks off his first nationwide tour this month, including concerts in San Francisco and Sacramento. (Courtesy photo)

“Someone told me about it – my parents,” he said. “I didn’t want to do it. I thought I wasn’t even good enough to try. My parents said, ‘Do it.’ They made me feel bad for not wanting to do it. When I told them, ‘You know what, I’m going to do this,’ they were so happy.

He went through audition, then the “Hollywood Round” and the “Hawaii Round” to make the Top 20. He pulled off Perry’s mega-hit, “Teenage Dream”, to make the Top 11, and went Raised in the Top 7 by making James “Fall like the stars” of Arthur. Martin moved closer to bigvtime, advancing two other niches with “You’ll Be in My Heart” by Phil Collins of Tarzan and “River” by Leon Bridges.

Playing in the Top 5, he was eliminated.

“As I got through the tricks and kept going, my parents got more and more excited and I started to get more excited,” said Martin. “When there were five of us, that was the only time I thought I could win.”

Just making the final “changed my direction in life,” said Martin, managing to ignore the competitive nature of the contest.

“It was less of a competition for me and more of a creative outlet,” he said. “I didn’t compare myself to anyone. Everyone was so different, proving to have a unique sound. I looked at him like, ‘I am who I am and if America loves me that’s great.’ “

Martin said it took six turns to relax.

“The first week was super scary. I was running without sleeping, ”he said.

The goal from the start was to build a fan base, get a recording deal and a tour, Martin said. Check, verify and verify.

“I’m grateful to make music every day, to release new music. I’m having a good time, ”he said. “It’s a dream come true.”

It could have been a nightmare, for sure. Martin was studying pre-law, preparing for a career as a lawyer. It became evident that his heart was in music, having learned the drums as a child and – in true Filipino tradition – participated in many karaoke projects.

“When I was little, my father introduced me to music. It was a hobby, something for fun. Music started for me because I loved to do it. After ‘Idol, after I signed, released my own record, wrote with other people, I started to look at it seriously, ”said Martin.

And the stress followed.

“It started to get overwhelming,” he said. “It was a ‘thing under pressure’ that took away the fun. I constantly compared myself to other people’s music. It became a spiral in my head that I had to put out. It didn’t make me appreciate the music.

Martin has become a supporter of mental health, especially his own.

“I learned to love it naturally,” he said of the music. “I took a break for a few weeks and reassessed her. Now he is starting to feel what he felt before.

If this move to the music industry 10 months ago was an adjustment for Martin, it was worse for his parents.

“It was very hard for them,” said Martin. “They were calling every five minutes when I first moved. If I didn’t answer (text or voicemail) for a day, they would panic.

Much of it is about trust, Martin admitted. This includes his own confidence to put his career in the hands of others and for others to trust him. Like when he wanted to put on a white bunny costume for the music video for the song “Bittersweet”.

“It was my idea,” he says. Of course, “I thought ‘this is super weird’, but I didn’t give up on the idea. I thought it would be fun.”

It worked.

“Surrounding myself with people I trust makes things more fun and more engaging,” said Martin. “Confidence is important. And you learn to compromise.

Now there’s this nationwide tour, which runs from mid-October to mid-November, touching about 13 cities.

“It’s so stressful,” Martin said. “Rehearsals start this week. I started to panic. But there is excitement and I am grateful. It’s my first time on the road and it’s crazy. I’m glad it’s going and people are buying tickets to see me play. I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s going and I’m getting the first tour under my belt.

That usual challenge of eating on the road for the 5-foot-11, 165-pound musician and singer?

“It’s a challenge for me to eat here in LA,” Martin laughed. “Sometimes I forget to eat. I won’t be hungry when I wake up and I will have coffee for breakfast. It’s so unhealthy.

Francisco Martin is at the Holy Diver on October 20 in Sacramento and at the Brick and Mortar in San Francisco on October 21. For more information on tickets, visit https://franciscomartin.org/tour.

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