Music has always been a big part of Conner Youngblood’s life; but it wasn’t until seeing huge success on HypeMachine that he decided to do it full time. Conner’s music combines lyrically and sonically to paint a vivid picture that is both ambient, yet focused. The production results in a sound much bigger than your typical singer/songwriter. Get to know the multifaceted musician below.
What compelled you to start making music? How old were you when you knew that you wanted to pursue music as a full-time career?
I had been playing guitar and banjo since I was maybe 12, and finally decided to write my first song around the age of 17. I then spent the next few years messing around recording stuff without really taking anything seriously. I’d say once I turned 22 and graduated from college it became a full time gig.
I noticed on your Korg Keyboard that you have a “Yale Wrestling” sticker so I have to ask, are you a wrestler?
Yup yup, wrestled in high-school and college. The best sport ever.
What did you study at Yale – was it hard balancing full-time school alongside a budding music career?
Haha, “studying”….Umm, I guess you could say a little bit of everything. I ended up majoring in American Studies (they took all of my credits), but took a whole bunch of architecture classes, space classes, Viking history, studied Czech and sign language as my languages, a class on fairy tales, and a whole bunch of other awesome shit. My favorite class was The Philosophy of Architecture.
The whole blance thing wasn’t really hard at all, I think I played a total of one show all 4 years I was there and kept my music pretty low-key. I wrote in my spare time and recorded over the holidays. I don’t think most of my friends knew I even played music.
You mentioned that you’ve recently moved from Dallas to Nashville – How has that move been for you professionally?
Professionally…meh, but quality of life—incredible. I mean I didn’t really expect to move to Nashville and then, bam! All of a sudden I’m crushing it, I really just moved there because I liked the city and atmosphere.
Explain to us your creative process. Do you have a daily routine where you sit and write music or is it mostly spontaneous?
It’s kind of a controlled spontaneity. I have to set my self up in a good situation in order to start writing. A clean room helps. Sometimes it’s a simple as forcing myself to sit down, pick up an instrument and start singing gibberish. Other times I like making a beat first and writing on top of it.
Once I have an instrumental idea for a song, I usually name it, write down a list of words (I’m constantly writing down lists of words that I like as notes in my phone) and themes that I want to use, start singing melodies, and just start to fill in the blanks.
But then again, once the recording process actually starts, every thing can change pretty quickly. By the end of a recording everything from the lyrics, instrumentation, melody and even the name of the song can change. It’s one thing to write what feels right, but it’s a whole other thing to record what sounds right. And you gotta go with the latter.
Oh and one more thing. I like to go running, to get the day started and clear the thoughts; and eat bacon to fill the belly.
I noticed from watching your live performance that you had at least six instruments that you switched between. How many instruments do you play – do you have a favourite?
I’d say that I own probably around 40 different instruments, but can only say with a straight face that I’m good at maybe 2-3 of them. Favorite instrument right now is the bass clarinet. I think I’ve used it in the last 5-6 songs I’ve recorded hah. *whoops*
If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit in, and why?
The questions every musician dreads. But seriously – I have no idea.
What do you think makes you and your music unique from other artists?
Eh, maybe the instrumentation I guess. The way I combine certain instruments and the soundscapes I can create I’d like to think are fairly unique. I put a lot of time and thought into the music production and really hope to achieve something unique in every song.
And I’d like to think my voice is unique as well, but that doesn’t really count.
We know that you toured extensively with Angus and Julia Stone last year. How did you connect with them to make that tour happen?
Just agents doing their agent thing. Not really sure of all the behind the scenes stuff, but glad it all worked out. Julia later on told me that they had heard my song “Australia” and were sold. So that’s kinda neat.
Did they give you any advice that has helped with your own musicality?
Mostly just advice on the ladies.
After spending time on the road, are there any cities that have began to influence your new material?
For sure, I love writing about places. Sometimes places I’ve been, and sometimes places I just want to go to. Recently I’ve written some songs about South Dakota, Texas, Finland, and Stockholm.
Also, Toronto is pretty awesome, I don’t know if I have a song coming, but maybe a future living situation.
What does the future hold for Conner Youngblood?
I wish I knew.