He may be busy trying to become the next American Idol, but Alejandro Aranda‘s main priority is staying true to himself.
After Sunday’s episode of American Idol, the 24-year-old musician opened up to PEOPLE about what he really does when he has down time during a hectic production schedule.
“I love writing music so I wanted to keep true to that and the show allowed me to play my own songs,” he said. “I try to write a song a day. It’s kind of hard being on this show. But that’s what I’ve been doing.”
“You can find the time if you really love it,” he added. “I’ve written a lot. There are a lot of bad ones about pancakes and stuff. I just get ideas out.”
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During Sunday’s episode, the Pamona, California native gave incredible performances to Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” and an original song called “Blesser.”
While acknowledging the contestant’s real-life heroes for the night, Aranda dedicated his original song to mentor and musician George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, and revealed he was the reason he never gave up his dream.
“The pressures of life and the stress and jobs that you work, you do so much and you try to make something happen and it doesn’t happen,” he told PEOPLE. “The expectations that I had during that time were kind of high. Nothing was really happening for me. The jobs I had were terrible. I was trying to play music and it wasn’t going anywhere. I was trying to get gigs as a musician and I couldn’t get gigs. When George Lewis Jr. came in, he provided me with a laptop, a microphone, a guitar. He put me on the first tour ever as a touring musician. I had my first flight and TV appearance with him. I played my first festival. He’s helped reinvent myself and realized music is everything. Stay true to who you are. Things will work out.”
During Sunday’s episode, Wade Cota and Laci Kaye Booth were eliminated, leaving Aranda, Madison Vandenburg, and Laine Hardy in the Top 3.
The two-night American Idol finale will air Sunday, May 19, and Monday, May 20, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.