Despite their meteoric rise to fame — coupled with a victory on The X Factor — for UCF's Alex & Sierra, their real focus has always been simple.
"Music is where it's at," Alex Kinsey said. "It's never been for more than anything other than that."
Now Alex Kinsey and Sierra Deaton will return to their old stomping grounds to take the stage, along with Karmin, at the CFE Arena on Aug. 21 during Pegasus Palooza.
The pair has certainly hit the ground running after their end-of-the-year victory on The X Factor, releasing their first single "Scarecrow" on iTunes June 23. The upbeat, acoustic song is a transition away from their softer, more sultry The X Factor performances, Deaton said. The music video alone, in one month, has received more than one million views, about 39,000 likes and 5,500 shares.
But as swift and traceable as their post-victory success has been, their initial foray into The X Factor was not.
After some encouragement from Deaton, armed with the knowledge that Simon Cowell — an idol of theirs — was a judge on the show, the pair recorded their audition tape in a bathroom, with a backdrop of a rather fitting rubber ducky shower curtain.
The online nature of the audition was financially beneficial to Deaton and Kinsey — the auditions were free, could be done from their home and required no travel, time set aside or excess planning.
But the online nature of the auditions also aided them in ways that weren't as easily explained as a break on the pocketbook.
The producer who had reviewed their audition tape, coincidentally and luckily, was a UCF alumnus and had even made use of a rubber ducky shower curtain herself during her time at UCF. Those two seemingly arbitrary aspects of their audition tape made them competitive, and roughly five months after they submitted their tape in January 2013, they received an invitation to perform in front of the judges, most notably Simon Cowell, in May.
"It was exciting and nerve-wracking, but it'd been a bucket list item to sing in front of Simon Cowell," Kinsey said of their idol, who would eventually become their mentor on the show.
"We grew up in the heyday of the American Idol, knowing how harsh he was," Kinsey said. "Having his support was very surreal. It was neat to have him behind us."
Things obviously went well for them, and after consistently garnering praise from the judges, on Dec. 19, Alex & Sierra became the first group performance to win the American version of the hit TV show.
That next month, they were signed to the management agency Atom Factory, which also manages other big names in music, such as John Mayer and John Legend.
"I think that the company we're in is pretty amazing — John Legend, John Mayer and some really incredible artists. The fact that we have that same management is really crazy," Kinsey said. "Our thought processes is 'if the Atom Factory is good enough for John Mayer, it's good enough for us.'"
However, while several aspects of their lives have sped up since their televised victory, one aspect has come to a halt: Kinsey's education.
While Deaton graduated in August last year with a degree in advertising and public relations, Kinsey still technically has one year left in his communications degree. Finishing that degree, however, is easier said than done.
"I would like to return [to UCF] eventually, but it's impossible now," Kinsey said. "This week we're in 12 cities in five days. We're [in Orlando] so little, with promo and everything."
Kinsey did note, though, that he does plan on finishing his degree.
Although they're an inseparable musical duo now, it wasn't until after they began dating in 2011 that the two actually began performing with one another.
To ask Kinsey when he began to sing is to be met with a question of his own: "When do people learn to read?" But that in itself is an answer.
Kinsey, influenced to perform by a particularly inspirational Jason Mraz concert in the early 2000s, has been singing ever since he could read.
He was belting out Beatles tunes over karaoke, and although Deaton's history wasn't as musical as Kinsey's was, she did study theater and dance from a young age.
As they dated, Kinsey at first performed alongside his friends and fellow musicians before starting to pull Deaton on stage with him during his shows. After performing outside of a Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran concert, the duo started to gain a following.
This following, which has grown exponentially since their victory, is bringing them back to their roots at UCF.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Date: Thursday, Aug. 21
Time: 8 p.m.
Where: CFE Arena
Tickets for the general public can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets or at 1-800-745-3000. Student ticket distribution will take place in the Student Union.