ーーWhat were you mainly doing while you were staying home these days?
Conan Gray : I feel like this isn’t the coolest thing in the world to admit, but I’ve been playing a lot of video games with my friends. And I’ve been calling them a lot. The main thing getting me through everything is my friends. I can’t see them in person right now, so being able to talk to them about their days has been very good. And I’ve been reading a lot and watching a lot of shows, I think everyone has. And I’ve been writing a lot of music… going a little crazy writing music, but it’s good.
ーーBoth “Heather” and “Maniac” went and are going viral on TikTok. Having one viral track on TikTok is (already) a miracle but having two is crazy! Where do you think the support and the resonation from your generation are coming from?
Conan Gray : I mean, I just write about my own life, you know. I am Gen Z, I live in this generation, I grew up on the internet, just like everyone else my age did. I think I just write about what I am experiencing as true as I can talk about it. I often don’t really know what I’m feeling until I’ve written about it. And so, to me, making music… I make music for myself. I write songs to help me figure out my emotions and then I end up making an album and everyone else kind of gets to hear my secret thoughts. I have no idea what really makes people like them, but I’m very grateful that people relate and that I’m not too crazy apparently.
ーーWhat are you singing about in “Overdrive”?
Conan Gray : “Overdrive” is my embracement of doing all the things you’ve ever wanted to do with your life and not really caring too much about the future or worries or inhibitions or what people are going to think about you and all those things. I’m kind of like an ultra-romantic, and I do this thing where I’ll see someone on the street and I’ll be like, “oh my gosh, that person looks so special and so beautiful and I love them and I’m going to move to another country with them and live this whole entire alternate life with them!” That’s how I’ve always been. And “Overdrive” is very much about meeting this beautiful stranger and what I would do with this beautiful stranger if I could, if I wasn’t so shy. I’m a very, very shy person. So yeah, it’s a fantasy. It’s an escape from reality and it’s just a bit of a daydream.
ーーWhat were the motives or the stories that made you need to want to write “Overdrive”?
Conan Gray : I think all the stories that made me want to write this song were just all the fantasies that I have about everyday life. I seriously daydream all day long. Constantly just thinking, I overthink about people, about what could have been, about all the different lives I could have had. What if I was still in college? What if I have never become a singer? What if I never started writing songs? I think about that kind of stuff all the time. So overdrive is very much my fantasy of “oh, what if I actually had the courage to do all the things that I always wanted to do? What if I had the courage to find some stranger and live the rest of my life with them? It’s that kind of recklessness that I always daydream about and wonder about. I’m really not that reckless of a person, so it’s a bit of my fantasy. That’s the experience that I had that makes me feel that way and made me want to write the song. I actually wrote the song really, really, really fast. It literally all came out in one line. I started singing I went “Only met on the weekend” and then just sang a whole song. It was really weird. I was like, “what just possessed my body!?” It was really funny to write that song. I was writing with Tobias Jesso Jr. and he was like, “what just happened?” and I was like, “I don’t know!!” It was cool.
ーーWhat do you want your listeners to feel from “Overdrive”?
Conan Gray : What I want listeners to feel is just like a bit of relief, a bit of an escape from reality, and I just want people to have fun. Some songs are meant to make you feel miserable and sad and some songs are meant to make you feel happy and then make you just want to bounce around and dance in your underwear, and that’s what I wanted out of “Overdrive.” I wanted people to have a bit of fun because I’ve spent enough time this year being miserable.
ーーSo “Overdrive” has sounds like, positivity, rainbow, vibrant energy compared to what you delivered with “Kid Krow” which even led to crown you as a “Sad Pop Prince.” Why is “Overdrive” driven in particular way and did you have any triggers or inspirations for this?
Conan Gray : Yeah, well, “Overdrive” is very intentionally ‘not sad.’ I wanted to put something out that wasn’t sad. I was like, “Conan, put out something that won’t make people cry.” I want people to cry tears of joy, or just like feel some kind of relief. I love writing. I love writing sad music more than anything on Earth. Everyone knows that the second after the song is out, there’s going to be something else that’s really depressing that makes everyone sad. But I just kind of wanted to start the year off on a positive note, I guess. Really, it’s kind of as simple as that, I wanted to start the year off on like a, “hey, maybe things are looking up a little bit, just a little.” And the truth is, “Overdrive” exists as the opposite of reality. It exists as a fantasy, as my fantasy of life. The life I could live, or the life I wish that I lived.
ーーIf you have another upcoming song for the year from you, will it have the same or a similar energy?
Conan Gray : I really make no promises. I’m just going to write whatever I feel like writing and I have no idea what exactly is going to be coming out next. I just want to keep growing and keep writing and I want to release music that I would listen to. And I don’t only listen to one style of music, I don’t only listen to one mood of music, I’m not that kind of person. I don’t think humans are really like that. Humans are multi-dimensional and have plenty of thoughts. So I think all of the songs that are going to come out for the rest of the year can be all over the place. Some are going to be really, really sad, and some are going to be happy and some are going to be confused. It’s going to be all the range of emotions that I feel every day that I’m alive.
ーーYou were saying you wanted to show like very happy Conan Gray vibes to your fans and the world. What kind of like impressions you want to your future fans to have of this Conan?
Conan Gray : I guess I wanted to show a side of me that I think I don’t show all the time. I’m not always miserable. I really love my friends more than anything on Earth and “Overdrive” feels like being with my friends and riding in the car and screaming at the top of my lungs. It’s that feeling. I’ve never really spoken about that feeling before in my music, which sounds weird, but I always talk about how depressed I am and not really ever talk about how beautiful life can be. I think I spent a lot of 2019 taking life for granted and in 2020 I thought a lot about the things that I was missing. That feeling of “Overdrive” was what I was missing. It was that feeling of freedom that I really missed.
ーーThe music video for “Overdrive” was directed, shot, and edited all by you. What were like the things you were especially focusing on when you were making this video?
Conan Gray : Me and my, one of my best friends in the entire world, Dylan Matthew. We made the video together, just me and him and one of our friends. That was it. It was just a three-person team. And we made the whole video just like that because it’s a pandemic. I’m not going to go on set and have 40 people. I think it’s insane that people are doing that right now, it’s really irresponsible and that’s a whole other conversation that makes me really upset. So we made it very, very DIY and all I wanted to do with the video is show that feeling of recklessness and show that feeling of excitement and freedom. And I wanted to show it genuinely. I wanted to show it the way that I live my life, the way that I romanticize meeting some random stranger on the street. In the video, I see someone across the train tracks and all of a sudden, I’m imagining an entire life with her. That’s how I live my life. It’s very true to me, so that’s what I wanted to show in the video. Just the way that I am, I’m just a very romantic person. I romanticize everything that happens to me at all times.
ーーWhat we’re the hardships or difficulties of filming this video?
Conan Gray : It was hard. It was really hard shooting this video with such a small team, but it was a lot of fun, because it was very real. It was very genuine. There’s plenty of mistakes in the video that you can see, and it has that like shakiness in that reality that I wanted to get. I didn’t want this video to be this beautiful, fake, glossy thing. I wanted it to be true. And it was true. It was literally just Dylan holding this camera in front of me and it was just very, very real. That’s what I wanted to portray. I mean, it was tough, it was cold. It was so cold and I don’t know why all of my outfits that I chose were like naked. It was so cold the whole video! It was just tough, but I’d much rather deal with shooting a hard video that feels really real and true and safe. I didn’t want to shoot something in the middle of a pandemic with 100 people on set. That’s just not okay, that’s not cool. It’s not good and all the other people who are doing it right now, all the other musicians, I wish I could give them all a wake up call. Like that’s not okay, you know?
ーーIt’s super dangerous right now.
Conan Gray : So dangerous, and nobody cares. It’s ridiculous!
ーーI know you said that it was freezing when shooting this video. Do you have like any memorable episodes from set that you want to share with your fans?
Conan Gray : Yes, well, there’s this shot right towards the end of the bridge, where me and Sada, who’s in the video, jump into a pool. It was like 40 degrees outside that night and the water was like 20 degrees. And it looks so fun in the video, it’s like fun! jump in the pool! So miserable. I was freezing cold. I was like, “why did I do this to myself. I’m an idiot, there’s something wrong with me.” But whatever, it was temporary… it was a temporary setback. I was just like “it’s fine,” but it was so cold. So when everyone watches that scene, I want them to know that it was freezing cold water jumping into and I did it for them. I love them that much. I love my fans that much. I was like “I have to do it for them.”
ーーYou definitely have a story now to write about that experience.
Conan Gray : Yes, yes.
ーーI also know you were majoring in ___ studies back in university. Did you get to utilize your knowledge from there?
Conan Gray : I don’t know who lied to the world on my behalf, but I was only in school for like, one month and then I signed a record deal. I wasn’t expecting it, but I really was only in school for a tiny bit of time. And then I started touring, but I still lived on campus, because why would I move? Like, that’s silly. So I was still like vibing on campus, living my life like going to the studio on the weekends. But I wasn’t in class because I couldn’t, I didn’t have time. I was working all the time, like flying to New York and doing weird crazy things like wasn’t supposed to be happening. It was very like Hannah Montana. I did not get that much information from my one month in school, I’m going to be completely honest. In my one-month freshman year of college, I didn’t learn that much from my professors at all. Also I skipped like all my classes. It was really bad.
ーーSo, I guess you taught yourself all the way.
Yeah. Well, yeah, I’ll say that. It’s just me. It’s all me. I’m so smart. I’ll take the credit, thank you.
ーーWould you please send like a message for your Japanese fans?
Conan Gray : Yes, well, first of all, I’ll start off by saying thank you so much for caring about me and my songs. I miss Japan so much. I think about it every single day. I’m so grateful for you guys. And I can’t wait to be able to see you guys in person and be able to sing my songs with you guys and be taught Japanese again. I’ve forgotten so much, I’m so embarrassed. I just wanted to say that I’m so grateful for them and I hope that they’re staying safe and hopefully so soon I can give them all safe hugs.
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