Conor Maynard opens up to Student Pocket Guide about relationships, embarrassing dating moments and hangovers. The talented singer-songwriter also talks about his new music, tour and offers tips to aspiring musicians…
Conor Maynard Interview by Ben Farrin
Hey Conor, thanks for taking the time to speak with us! How are you keeping, and where are you now (what can you see)?
Right now I’m in London. I’m in my flat and I can see that one the candles in my living room is about to finish, so I’m going to have to get a new one. So yeh, really interesting stuff!
You recently released a really catchy and new original track entitled P.G.N.L. Can you tell us the story behind this song please?
I wrote it about 6 months ago about my then girlfriend. P.G.N.L. stands for ‘Pretty Girl Named Layla’ and that is her name! I wrote it when we were still together and then we split up, however we are still friends so it’s all good and she loves the song.
Part of the lyrics from the song say “I know I talk some bullsh*t when I drink, but oh well” – what’s your go-to drink, and best hangover cure!?
Interestingly I don’t actually drink anymore, I stopped about 6 months ago basically because I didn’t have a hangover cure. The hangovers were so bad I was like I can’t really do this. I just thought I’d see how long I can go without drinking because it wasn’t really improving my life. But my go to drink when I was drinking depends on what mood I’m in. If I’m going out with friends and not really feeling the mood, I’ll probably have an espresso martini to help wake me up. Otherwise, it’s an ice cold Corona with a lime in the sun, yeh that’s my go to!
The song talks about exchanging numbers and hooking up – what’s your top tip when it comes to dating and relationships?
For me, it sounds cliché but the most important thing is to be yourself. It’s so important, if you click with someone while hiding your personality it doesn’t really make any sense. It’s essentially clicking with them on false pretences. I think be confident, for me it’s all about talking to people, communicating with them – you can normally feel if you’re into each other straight away. I also think this can be a hard one sometimes but don’t take it so personally if it’s clearly not a vibe. Sometimes you’ve got to remember there really are plenty more people out there, you can’t be hung up on someone if it’s not meant to be.
As a high-profile artist, how do you go about meeting someone to find love? For instance, would you ever be found on an online dating site?
Well, I’m banned from almost all dating sites because my profile gets constantly reported for being fake. I would say 9 out of 10 times I get people messaging me for proof it’s actually me!
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on a date?
Oooh, I remember I was on a date a few years ago now and a dad came over to me while we were out and he was ‘aw I love you, my daughter loves you’ etc. He then goes you’re better than Justin Bieber and starts talking about how Justin Bieber’s fans are called ‘Beliebers’ and they’ve all got ‘Bieber Fever’. So he says ‘I’ve thought of what your fans could have, ‘Conorea’…and I was sat there with this girl while he’s making word play on STDs. Not the most ideal topic on a date…
Your previous release was a reimagination of I Wanna Dance with Somebody originally by Whitney Houston. What was it that made you decide to use this particular track?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the song. The idea of doing a version popped into my head years ago, I think I was at the premiere for Avengers End Game in LA and the DJ started playing this remix of I Wanna Dance with Somebody and it was really different and upbeat – which planted the idea of sitting down and making my own version of the song because I love the chorus. A couple of years passed, and I was lying in bed humming the song in my head and all of a sudden, I could hear exactly how I wanted it to go. So I jumped up and put together these chords on a piano, it started to sound strong and I finished it there and then. It’s interesting because I wrote the first half while I was still with my ex and then the second half afterwards, I remember the second half being a lot harder because it felt a lot more real, it was exactly what I was feeling at the time, so it’s a song of two halves for me.
It’s a superb track, and it’s received lots of incredible feedback. One comment on the YouTube video which caught my eye, reads “I swear Conor could sing ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and it would be absolutely beautiful and flawless! His voice is beautiful and I don’t understand why he doesn’t get the recognition he so deserves.” What is your opinion to this comment?
I get this a lot at the moment, and I think it highlights what people view as ‘recognition’. I think a lot of people still recognise mainstream media as making it, if you’re on the radio then that must mean you’ve ‘made it’. But nowadays there are so many successful people who don’t fit this, who might have a big social media following for example. A lot of people come up to me and say they love me, what happened to me? And I’m like well I’m assuming you’re not coming up to me because you remember me from 10 years ago, I’m assuming you’ve seen me more recently and they’re like ‘oh yeh I saw what you posted a few weeks ago, I loved it’. So I think that comment comes back to how we view success, that if you’re doing it online then that’s not real fame.
We’ve heard rumours of a global tour… can you tell us more!?
Yeh I mean it’s coming, it’ll be coming towards the end of this year, I’m going to try and hit all of the places I’ve been before as well as a bunch of new ones. I’m obviously just super excited to get back on the road and see a bunch of familiar and new faces, especially since the massive hiatus touring and live shows have had, it’s going to feel amazing.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you whilst on tour? Do any previous scenarios jump to mind when thinking back about previous experiences?
I think it’s always an insanely good time, most of the tours I’ve done have been with a rapper called Ant from the states, he’s been one of my best friends since I was about 15 so that’s obviously really cool to be on tour with him. We’ll be together causing mischief for everyone that works with us! But jokes aside, it’s always great fun. I’ve never been on tour without getting ill, I think people forget how tiring it actually is, physically and mentally. It’s an odd experience being in a city for less than a day and then leaving. On my last tour I got really into it and decided to spray water all over the audience, then I turned round and the whole stage was wet, and I stacked it in front of everyone, which was…great.
You’ve racked up 2.5 billion views on YouTube alone, and have a massive fan base! Has your journey as a musician panned out as you expected, and what have been the highest and lowest points of your career so far?
I definitely wouldn’t say it’s been what I expected, it’s taken so many twists and turns and a lot of that is because of how much the industry has changed since I started. Between then and now the change has been insane. When I got signed, Spotify, Apple Music didn’t exist, streaming didn’t mean anything. YouTube didn’t exist as we know it and there wasn’t any way of making income through that, no Tik Tok, Instagram…It was about your iTunes sales and physical CDs. Now it’s just so different, it’s meant a lot of adapting. I think some of the high points for me were my first album going to number one, low points – I think there were definitely moments where I felt like I was losing touch with the music industry and what was changing, I didn’t really know what I was doing and then you come out of that. I went back to what I knew best with YouTube and social media. So yeh, it’s definitely not gone the way I thought it would, but I’m really happy with where it is. I’m obviously independent now, if you’d told me that 10 years ago I would be been like oh no that’s terrible, whereas now I’m like this is the best version of what I could be right now.
Your career has heavily evolved around covers. What are your future plans in terms of where your focus will lie when considering covers versus original tracks?
I think that’s a hard one really. I definitely go through phases over what I want to do. I’ve always worked on something if I want to do it, I never like to feel like I’ve got to do something, I just prefer to do it if I want to. So if I hear a song that I love and I want to cover it, I’ll cover it. If there’s nothing, I’m inspired by then I won’t force it. As of right now I’m focussing on originals so I’m not looking out for anything that would lend itself to a good cover. That’s mainly because with the covers they work really well on social media, so it’s kind of like ok well now that you’re all here and listening let me show you something that I’ve written myself, and that’s where I’m at right now.
What do you do to relax outside of music?
I love gaming, I was literally playing Rocket League just before speaking with you. I like playing football, don’t follow a team but love playing it. I prefer that to going to the gym or running, it’s a much more fun way of working out. I try to play football as much as I can. Obviously going out with friends, I go out more than I should but now I don’t drink I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that.
What is your favourite season?
I honestly don’t have a favourite season. The reason I like living in the UK is because there’s so much variation, there aren’t any extremes. We have our summer which is sunny (sometimes) and then winter isn’t deathly cold. London in the summer is so much fun, I love winter for the fashion, I think it’s way better that time of year, I just like getting dressed up in the winter, all the layers and stuff – that’s fun.
What’s your top tip for someone who has an amazing voice but doesn’t know how to take it to the next level?
To get yourself out there you need to have a variety of skills, an amazing voice is really important but you also need to be able to promote yourself, utilise social media, watch what other people are doing and how they’re doing it. I think a lot of people go down the covers route and that’s great, but I think it’s really important to remember you can’t just sing the song exactly how it is originally, flip the song on its head, do something different but keep that small element of familiarity. I also think the song choice is important, I always try to keep it relevant, figure out what’s out recently or killing it in that moment. I’m most equipped with online knowledge so yeh I would say that’s the way forward.
Credit: Conor Maynard > ‘PGNL’ is out now.
Conor Maynard Interview by Ben Farrin