Kelly Clarkson couldn't have been happier to reunite with her fellow Voice coaches John Legend, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani when the show got the go-ahead to resume in-person production for season 19 — but, she admits, there are some things she'll miss about filming remotely.
"I'm going to be honest," the star, 38, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue, on newsstands Friday. "I liked the live shows last season because I got to ride a four-wheeler to work, and then I got to drink wine in a tiny little room where someone was watching my children. So it was kind of awesome."
When Legend, 41, points out that "you're allowed to drink wine at the studio too, if you want," Clarkson makes clear that "there's a difference."
"It feels unprofessional when I'm in a studio, but if I'm in my own little cabin, it's like, 'Well, you're invading my space,'" explains Clarkson, who filmed The Voice's live shows last season from her rural Montana cabin, where she and her family had been social distancing at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I had a good time, that's what I'm saying," she adds. "I was all right with it. I was."
Though the new on-set safety protocols for season 19 call for the coaches to sit 8 ft. apart in their iconic red swivel chairs, thanks to the lack of a studio audience, "it's much more intimate," Clarkson says.
"You're more connected to the artist on stage because there's not a bunch of people clapping or screaming or yelling or dancing," she says. "It's cool because you can hear a pin drop. The show is 19 seasons in, so it's nice to see a different vibe. I've enjoyed it."
In between shooting The Voice and her NBC talk show, among other work commitments, in Los Angeles, Clarkson has been keeping her daughter River Rose, 6, and son Remington Alexander, 4 (with ex Brandon Blackstock, whom she filed for divorce from in June) busy by spending time at the beach.
"At least at the beach you can separate yourself from people," she says. "So we've been going to the beach most weekends just to get them out of the house. I have toddlers, so basically they're hell when they don't get out. They need to get energy out, and that's kind of our outlet here."
Season 19 of The Voice premieres Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. EST/PST on NBC.
For all the details on The Voice's new season, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
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