Home Web internet Internet Superstar Conan Gray Releases 2nd Full Album ‘Superache’ : NPR

Internet Superstar Conan Gray Releases 2nd Full Album ‘Superache’ : NPR

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NPR’s Susan Davis talks to Conan Gray, a singer-songwriter who rose to fame after uploading his music to YouTube as a teenager. He has just released his second album, “Superache”.



(SOUND EXCERPT FROM YOUTUBE VIDEO)

CONAN GRAY: Hello. My name is Conan and I created this YouTube channel a few days ago. I just thought I would introduce myself before saying to myself, here I am; here is a video.

SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

When Conan Gray uploaded his first video to YouTube nearly a decade ago, it’s fair to say he couldn’t have imagined where it would take him. He posted little on-camera confessionals and videos of his daily routines, as well as original song after song, with a singing voice and lyrics that are surprisingly deep for a teenager.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “TREEHOUSE”)

GRAY: (Singing) And I wish I could die right now.

DAVIS: The internet took notice, and so did the record companies. Today, Conan Gray is 23 years old and has been listened to tens of millions of times. He came out with his second full album, “Superache”.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “THE PEOPLE ARE WATCHING”)

GRAY: (Singing) Cut people out like tags on my clothes. I end up alone, but I continue to hope. I won’t be afraid to let someone know me. Life seems so monotonous, but I still have hope.

DAVIS: Conan Gray is joining us now from New York. Hey, Conan. Welcome to the program.

GRAY: Hello. It was an amazing intro. I feel – I’m emotional right now.

DAVIS: Let’s start with YouTube. You know, you created that space for yourself there. What made you want to put yourself forward to kind of build that audience?

GRAY: I was just a lonely, bored kid. I mean, I grew up in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Texas. And I just felt like I needed a place to put stuff on the internet. And in typical Gen Z fashion, I had no idea that this stuff would live on the internet forever. So I just thought I was talking to myself, really.

DAVIS: What do you think of this space now?

GRAY: I’m very wary of the Internet now. I respect him.

DAVIS: Really?

GRAY: It’s a powerful thing, so I like to treat it with as much caution as possible.

DAVIS: Why the caution?

GRAY: I don’t know. I think it’s a space you can really get caught up in. And we forget very quickly that real humans have very different emotions in real life.

DAVIS: I read that when you were trying to make your first album, you wrote a song every day of the year.

GRAY: Yeah. It is more or less that. Yeah. I usually write one song a day.

DAVIS: Is that still how you work?

GRAY: Yeah. I write almost every day. I do all of this because I’m obsessed with writing. It’s the love of my life.

DAVIS: Let’s hear some of your music. It’s one of your leads. It’s called “Summer Child”. Here is a bit of that.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “SUMMER CHILD”)

GRAY: (Singing) Oh, summer kid. You don’t have to act like everything you feel is sweet. You don’t really like the sun. It drives you crazy. You lie, summer child.

DAVIS: Who are you talking to?

GRAY: I’m talking to my best friend. I think we all have those friends who are sort of bundles of joy and always trying to spread love to everyone around them. And I just wish I could tell them, like, I know you well enough to know that you don’t always feel like that, and you don’t have to convince me that’s the truth, and you can be whoever you are. want to be around me.

DAVIS: You talked about adapting your work as you started touring more to try to give the audience in the room some type of experience. But you’re also someone whose career was kind of boosted by the internet, alone in your own space and all the pressures of going viral and going viral there. Is there a tension between making music that feels true to you and making music that people want you to make, especially as you grow older?

GRAY: I think to say that I was never pressured one way or another would be a lie. Of course, I feel pressure. I’m kind of terrified of people. But I think in the end, it’s always honest songwriting that’s very real and very real that ends up resonating with people the most. So the pressure of, I don’t know, all commercialism is always mitigated by the fact that I wouldn’t have any commercialism if I wasn’t just telling the truth with the songwriting.

DAVIS: One of your songs is called “Family Line,” and the opening to that is just heartbreaking.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “FAMILY LINE”)

GRAY: (Singing) My dad never talked much. He just walked around the block until all his anger took hold of him, and then he knocked. My mother never cried much. She took the beating, but she never fought until she said, I’m leaving, and I’m taking the kids. So she did. I say they are just the ones who gave me life. But I am really the child of my parents.

DAVIS: Violence seems to have been a common thread in your childhood. Is it something you talked about a lot publicly before releasing this album?

GRAY: It’s something that I’ve always been afraid to talk about because I think it’s kind of a taboo to talk about things that have been difficult in your past. And over the past few years, I guess I’ve come to realize that there’s nothing to worry about, and the fact that it seems taboo is reason to talk about it. I wrote this song kind of in the middle of me realizing how much it affected me and how it still affects me to this day. And, I think, in a way, singing the songs is really what makes me feel like I’m able to get over it. But writing it is really traumatic. It’s not, like, this therapeutic process. It’s almost like digging up old graves.

DAVIS: Here are some of the last tracks from the album. It’s a song called “The Exit”.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “THE EXIT”)

GRAY: (Singing) You already found someone to miss while I’m still standing at the exit.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.

GRAY: (Singing) I’m still up at the exit.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.

GRAY: (Singing) I can’t hate you for getting everything we wanted.

“The Exit” is a song about the fact that I really write all my songs about, like, the same three people in my life.

DAVIS: Who are they?

GRAY: My high school crush, basically, then my best friend, then another person I had feelings for. But they are the same three people. I mean, I liked the others. I felt emotions for other people. But I just have very few muses, I guess you could say.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “THE EXIT”)

GRAY: (Singing) We had identical wounds, but mine is still black and bruised, and yours is perfectly fine.

DAVIS: I read in another interview that you said making this album was like scratching your ribs for every last drop of what you wanted to say. So how do you plan to make music in the future? What have you learned from your life and its translation into music?

GRAY: You know, my first album was just my introduction. It was just me saying, hello; like, I’m Conan. I had my heart broken once when I was 17, you know? Like – and that’s kind of just a first impression. But with this album, I was like, oh, so I have to talk about other things, I guess. And that’s what made me feel like – like, it was really a miserable process, to be honest, having to open up. I’m such a closed person most of the time, and I think it was just a little, I guess, scary, intimidating.

DAVIS: Do you have any fan comments? – because you really presented yourself from a male point of view. And I wonder if you hear other men say that maybe it’s good for men to have big feelings and big moods in songwriting.

GRAY: I guess that’s something I don’t really think about. I really feel like my music is right for anyone and everyone. But it’s, I think, an important reminder sometimes, I think, for a lot of men that I grew up with, you know, there’s tons of emotions that everyone is feeling. It’s kind of, like, a connector rather than maybe, like, kind of saving grace or something.

DAVIS: Conan Gray – his new album is called “Superache”. Thank you very much for talking to us.

GRAY: Thank you very much.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “DISASTER”)

GRAY: (Singing) It could be a disaster. There are so many factors, like if you freak out, and we lose everything in the critical chapter, where I say I love you and you don’t say it afterwards?

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