It has been nearly three years since Jessica Sanchez's debut album, Me, You & the Music, anchored by the party jam Tonight (with Ne-Yo). Despite some otherworldly vocal performances (such as Crazy Glue and Plastic Roses), the album did not ignite on the charts or generate enough buzz to move forward. She later parted ways with Interscope Records. Taking some time out of the spotlight, the powerhouse has collected herself and is ready to go bravely into the new year, which includes the possibility of a new record deal. "We're talking to a couple major labels. This year, I might jump on some tours. I'm very, very excited," the singer tells Popdust over a phone call earlier this week. And by "we," she means her new manager Mark Lamica, known for his work with business partner and former Michael Jackson manager Frank DiLeo. To say the least, 2016 is looking rather promising.
An official announcement is expected "soon."
She teases, "I'm also working with a couple producers for new music. I'm just ready for the new year." Admittedly, she says coming off her former record deal, the unknown is rather scary. "When you go into a major label, a lot is happening, and you don't want to be this little dot in this big industry. You want attention, in a way. I definitely want to make some noise for myself. That's why we did the EP independently. But having the backing of a major label would be amazing."
Last summer, Popdust spoke briefly with Sanchez about her new music, and she says it is all taking shape, even in the face of a few setbacks. She explains, "I know I've been saying this for a long time, and I told a couple different people this, but I was working with a couple producers. I was in a production deal for a little bit. That fell through. There is a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes that is hard to explain to the fans. When stuff like that happens and things don't go the way it was planned, you have to start all over. At the least, I'll be releasing music this year."
In addition to major label talk, there are discussions for Sanchez to jump on a big tour. "The talk right now is opening for somebody. If I were to headline my own tour next year, that's definitely a really big goal," she says. If she were to open for someone in the new year, she says she'd love to hit the road with acts like Kalani or Bruno Mars.
But so far, her work with Lamica has been energizing. "He is amazing. He hunted me down, went to one of my shows, found a way backstage and was like 'I want to manage you.' We talked about it, and he showed me a contract. We are partners now. Everything has been great. We've been moving really fast. We did the Christmas EP within a couple days and the merch store, too. That's with only being with him for a couple months."
Christmas with Jessica, featuring holiday standards like Joy to the World and Silent Night, came as quite a surprise to her Blujays. "That EP was so crazy last minute. I'm really happy it came out the way it did," she says. "My fans have been waiting very, very patiently. I thought, 'I have to do something for them. I have to give them some kind of Christmas gift.' I was actually really, really sick during that time. Luckily, I pushed through it, and, hopefully, it came out exceptional for the fans."
"Out of all the songs on there, I would have to say 'Santa Baby' is my favorite. It's so simple and sexy. You can do so much with it. Obviously, I did the classic version."
In recent weeks, Sanchez also launched a brand new merch store, a collection of some of her favorite pieces. "I was actually talking with my publicist, and she brought up a website to me and showed me different options. It's cool because I got to handpick what I wanted, with the styles and color scheme," she says of the process. "I'm more of a simple person. Everybody my age likes the simple stuff, anyway. I was so weird about having my face on a shirt. Luckily, it came out pretty well. The picture we picked was not too much. On the hats and hoodies, it's literally just my signature. I love that simplicity."
Her favorite piece? "I love hoodies. I wear hoodies for days. I'm more of a tomboy. I love wearing sweats and just being comfortable. The hoodies also don't have my face plastered on it," she laughs.
Next week, American Idol returns for its farewell season (Jan. 6 on FOX). Needless to say, it is rather bittersweet. "It is so strange. I was on that show four years ago, but sometimes, it feels like it was yesterday. The years have flown by. Out of nowhere, I'm 20. I'm going to miss everybody. I'm going to miss the staff, the judges and the whole thing about it. Every I step into that studio, the memories just hit me, and I'm back in the 'Idol' bubble. It's family. I went through a lot in that process, and I'm sad to see it end. I know they're going to go out with a bang."
Sheepishly, she says "you might see me" for the last season in more than just a performer capacity. "Maybe. There were definitely talks about that. We will see."
Speaking of memory lane, relive one of Sanchez's standout Idol performances below:
[PHOTO CREDIT: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty]