[EXCLUSIVE] Conan Gray’s About To Take Over The World, One Playlist At A Time
“If I could describe myself in 3 words it’d be, chaotic, heartbroken and sarcastic,” says Conan Gray during a special interview with TeamCLEO. It’s pretty spot on (duh, he is describing himself), but even more so because those three aspects can be seen in his music.
Conan Gray is a Youtuber turned pop star whose music is the perfect anti-romance anthem. We caught up with Conan to get to know him better before he takes over the music world.
Where does inspiration usually come from for you?
I think that it comes from a bunch of different things.
When did you realise your love for music?
I grew up in Texas, in this really small town in the middle of Texas, so there’s actually a bunch of country music in there. By the time I was 12 or 13, I discovered pop music from Taylor Swift and Lorde and Adele, and then I really started to fall in love with pop music.
Do you ever see yourself doing country music because you grew up in Texas?
I have this inside joke with my fans that if you take any one of my songs and sing it in a country accent, it just sounds like a country song. I think that I do technically like write country songs, I just kinda put them in pop productions to hide the fact that I’m super Texan.
What was the pivotal moment in your life where you decided, okay music is what I want to do?
I don’t know… hmm. I think I really grew up on the Internet, and I started making videos when I was 9 years old. And (with that) I never really had any goals you know, I kinda just made videos because I liked to and once I started songwriting it just quickly became this forefront. And the second I put out “Idle Town” it was just kind of painfully clear that music was kind of the direction that I always looked to and I find so much comfort in songwriting. I still love YouTube — I watch a lot of YouTube, I watch a lot of Bon Appétit — and it’s always going to be a place where I find a lot of comfort and solace. So yeah, I don’t think there was a specific moment but yeah, I’ve always been writing songs and I’ve always been making videos.
Speaking of “Idle Town”, how did you adjust to this sudden attention on your music?
I think there was definitely a bit of growing pains for awhile, I was so confused. And to this day, I’m like, what is going on? Why do people care? I think with people listening, I think it’s a weird thing but simultaneously so amazing to have people care but also so much pressure to have people care.
Do you feel like it has affected you in any way?
Um I don’t know, I don’t think it really affects me. I still have the same friends back home in Texas, I still write all my songs by myself in my room and I think I try to do everything I can to keep some things familiar aspects in my life in tact that way even though everything is changing so much around me, there’s one thing that I can control is the way I write my music.
What is your song writing process like?
It’s definitely pretty different with every song but I feel mainly, I almost always start with a random melody that kind of just pops out in thin air and I can’t explain it. Like trying to explain it would be like trying to explain to someone how to breathe, I don’t know you just breathe. So I just kinda start with a random melody and it usually comes in an annoying annoying time, like when I’m in the bathroom, at 3am or when I’m in public which makes it awkward but then I record it into my phone as fast as I possibly can and then after that I will finish it off on my guitar.
Who are your biggest music idols?
My favourite pop star of all time — absolutely Taylor Swift, no doubt in my mind. I love her so much, I feel like she raised me, she’s just my favourite and I look up to her song writing style so much, she’s such a great writer and you can really tell in her songs.
Let’s talk about “Maniac”, can you tell us a little backstory on the song?
Yeah! I wrote this song while I was in New York, I just had gotten this crazy text from someone I haven’t talked to in months, like seriously haven’t talked to in months and I don’t know why they’re texting me but they texted me and was like, “Conan, you’re so manipulative and crazy, and you’re telling all your friends all these crazy stuff” and I was like, “What are you talking about? You’re calling me insane but you are the crazy one. Don’t you realise that you’re the maniac?” And so I got into the shower after that and wrote “Maniac” in the shower.
Have any of your fans come up to you and say how this song has helped them or how you’re such an inspiration to them and if you have, how does that make you feel?
Oh wow, it’s so special to have anyone care. Especially because my whole childhood I felt so lonely and feeling like I was the only person who felt the way that I feel and to have anyone, stop me on the street, or tweet me and tell me something like that and tell me that my music meant something to them, and that has helped them go through a lot of the painful things that I’ve gone through is so special.
And also I’m such a big music fan so when I think about my life now, I think about it in song — like songs for a certain era — so to have my songs defining eras for other people and making impact for other people is so freaking cool like how can I ever ask for anything cooler. So yeah I feel like my fans are exactly, like we’re all the same — we all like the same thing so it feels like we’re all just friends.
Because of that, do you think the raw emotions in your songs helps in having the connection with all your fans?
I think I kinda just try my best to write songs about my own life. And I guess I don’t think too much about having things relate to other people, because I feel like anything human is relatable. And I feel we have so many things about humans that make us different but we all have sorta the same issues just at a different scale. So yeah, I just write about my life and my life is human life, I don’t necessarily keep other people in mind.
If you could try a different genre, what would it be?
I really love, like really intensely love EDM music, I love Martin Garrix, I love Zedd and I also, really really love grunge music. I feel like grunge music really influenced my debut album and I listen to a lot Nirvana, Radiohead, and lots of stuff from the ’90s that I really really love. I don’t know! I listen to a lot of different stuff and I write songs in a lot of different genres. So yeah, I feel like I listen to a lot of different genres of music, so why should I only write in one genre?
For 2020, what can we expect from Conan Gray?
For 2020, you can definitely expect me to be touring my debut album. Hugging lots of fans and be writing more music. It’s not just about the album you know there’s so much more and I’m excited to release some fun summer songs. I’m writing songs all the time so I’m excited to keep putting out music because that’s what I want to do forever and ever.
Conan Gray’s debut album Kid Krow is coming out 20 March.