Conan Gray Had Deep Feelings from a Young Age
By: Violet Yan
Conan Gray is a singer in LA who has deep feelings. His debut song, "Those Days," was inspired by the time he spent growing up in the small Texas town of Rockdale. In a recent interview, he recalled that the major activity was visiting Walmart and that the tagline was "one hour away from everything." He was 12 when he wrote the lyrics and 7 when he used to live in Rockdale. The idea that he had such intense emotions so quickly made people laugh.
After seeing a video of Adele singing in her bedroom, he was inspired to write "Those Days" and wondered whether he could do the same. YouTube also helped his career to be a singer. He made videos when he was younger including him playing the guitar and creating videos about himself. “I was just doing it because what else are you supposed to do when you live in a random town in the middle of Texas?” Gray said. “I had no real gauge of the fact that real people were even watching these videos.”
It isn’t surprising to Gray now that he had such deep feelings at a young age. He is one of several Gen Z singer-songwriters who have exposed their souls on social media to get through the traditional obstacles of admission into the music business. “Heather,” one of his popular songs, is about him being jealous of a woman who is dating his crush.
According to Eddie Wintle, who has been managing Gray since 2016, "part of what defines Conan is the way he's connecting so directly to this entire generation of kids who grew up on the Internet. The sky's the limit for what he can do as long as he keeps doing that, in my opinion.” Gray’s emotions occasionally overwhelm him, and his new album wasn’t fun to make. “I was just presenting myself on my debut album: ‘Hello, my name is Conan, I'm 19 years old, and I've had my heart broken once,’” he added. “The second record, though, made me realize that I would have to reveal my true identity to the public.”
Gray was inspired to write "People Watching" by a couple whose connection he admired. He talks about battling thoughts of inadequacy and self-doubt as he pursues his career in the music business. He explains, "If I want to evolve and not be this stunted human being, I have to let myself make mistakes."
“It took a while to figure out what we were making,” said Dan Nigro, who produced “Superache” and has worked on nearly all of Gray’s post-YouTube music. One turning point came in February 2021, when they completed the singles “Astronomy” and “People Watching.” “This felt like a new iteration of Conan that was more mature than ‘Kid Krow,’” said Nigro. “It gave us the confidence to be like, ‘OK, we have the beginnings of something really special.’