The "Until I Found You" singer explained how his friendship with Elton John came to be when chatting with PEOLPE at the 2023 Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival
If Sir Elton John is on the line, drop what you're doing.
That's exactly what Stephen Sanchez did when the "Rocket Man" singer beeped in amid his phone call with his mom one day, a now-common occurrence he told PEOPLE at the 2023 Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival happens "so much."
Following his energy-filled set at the two-day, oceanside event held in Asbury Park, New Jersey over the weekend, the "Until I Found You" crooner recalled his spontaneous interaction with the acclaimed English musician, while explaining how their newfound friendship came to be.
"Randomly, I was in a Walgreens," begins Sanchez, who recounts the story to PEOPLE exclusively from backstage on the festival grounds on Sunday night. "Yeah, I was on the phone with my mom and I got the phone call."
"I was like, 'Mom, I got to go. It's Elton and I gotta hop on the phone,'" Sanchez recalls. "I talked to him for three minutes and then I called my mom back." He casually adds, "I was like, 'Sorry mom. Elton was calling.'"
Although it could be tough at times to predict when the EGOT winner might give Sanchez a ring, it's an occurrence that he's gotten used to since they first met in 2022. Even the breakout star's mom knows the drill.
"She was like, 'Oh, yeah. No, that's fine,'" Sanchez remembers of his mother's first thoughts when John interrupted their call. "I mean she's heard me do that so much. It's very cool," he adds.
As for how their friendship came to be, Sanchez — who's gearing up to release his debut album Angel Face on Sept. 22 — tells PEOPLE it all began following the 2021 release of "Until I Found You," Sanchez's hit that went viral on TikTok and has since amassed over one billion views on the app.
Sanchez said that John "loved the song" and then invited him to be a guest on his Rocket Hour podcast. They spoke on the phone — which Sanchez described as "an incredibly surreal moment" — and the young crooner was featured on the music icon's show in October 2O22.
However, it wasn't until Smokey Robinson and Barry Gordy's MusiCares benefit in Los Angeles in February that they "finally got to meet in person," Sanchez noted. "We met in person, we sat down, had dinner together, watched The Temptations and all sorts of stuff," he says.
The day after the MusiCares event, Sanchez said John introduced him and his band "in front of everyone" at a Universal Music Group artist showcase. After their performance, Sanchez received an incredible invite.
"We played and then after, [John] was like, 'Man, that was dynamite. I'm headlining this festival in the summer called Glastonbury and I would love to have you come out and sing.' I was like, 'Oh my God,'" Sanchez remembers, still in disbelief.
"We spoke on the phone a few times leading up and he was going to have me sing, 'I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues,'" Sanchez explains — though notes, "And then he changed his mind months in."
"[John] was like, 'Actually, I'd rather have you sing your song because this is not only just a tremendous moment in my career, but in your career and I want to make this moment huge for you,'" Sanchez recalls.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival, a two-day celebration of live music, art and surf culture produced by acclaimed rock photographer Danny Clinch. This year's headliners were The Killers and Foo Fighters, with other acts including The Beach Boys, Sheryl Crow, Weezer and more.
"It has gone so fast," Clinch, 59, exclusively tells PEOPLE of his 2018-incepted brainchild that's had annual shows since, excluding 2020 in light of the pandemic. "Everybody loves this festival because Asbury Park is such a great place to be in the fall," he said while referencing New Jersey's "incredible" surf and weather in September.
Clinch went on to share his excitement about the artists and bands slated to perform. "What's exciting for me is to see younger people wanting to tell their parents what they're checking out," he said, referencing Minneapolis-based guitarist Cory Wong as an example.
"And then you have the older folks who want to share the Beach Boys with their kids or Sheryl Crow," Clinch added. "It's just really another incredible and diverse lineup."
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