Conan Gray Creates a Safe Space for Everyone on Kid Krow
He opens up about not conforming to one genre and the feeling of finally holding his debut LP on vinyl
Conan Gray is a voice for his generation.
From the moment he released his self-produced 2018 track, “Idle Town,” fans felt that he was speaking directly to them because his songs highlighted the ups, downs and sometimes mundane aspects of being a young person in today’s world. And considering a lot of focus has zeroed in on Millenials, Gray has sonically documented what it’s like being a part of Generation Z in the 21st century — whether he realizes it or not.
“I guess I’ve never really thought about being a voice to my generation,” the 21-year-old singer and songwriter told SPIN while social distancing in Los Angeles, “because I just write about my own life, and subsequently I’m from Gen Z so this music is my generation’s music.”
Growing up, Gray’s family dynamic continuously changed. Not only did his parents’ divorce and then remarried, but the constant transitions meant that he moved around a lot. He lived in 21 houses by the time he as 12 years old. And being “the new kid” everywhere he went, Gray easily felt like the outsider. However, the only place he found any solace was jotting those emotions down. And soon, those words turned into songs.
“Writing songs, for me, was my way of talking and speak my thoughts without having to talk to anybody,” he said. “I can just put it up on the internet, and people could listen to what I have to say. I didn’t have to face anyone face-to-face. I think it shaped who I am.”
After the success “Idle Town,” Gray signed with Republic Records and released more anthems that resonated with Gen Z including “Generation Why” and “Crush Culture,” from his 2019 EP, Sunset Season. The song has amassed 300 million streams.
With the support of his fans and his ability to pen out song after song, Gray was finally ready to make his debut album, Kid Krow, which is out now. Similar to the YouTube videos that he’s been making since he was nine years old, Gray doesn’t shy away from telling you how he sees it.
Whether it’s calling out confused communication (or lack thereof) with a crush on “Wish You Were Sober” or pointing out that money doesn’t buy happiness in “Affluenza,” each song on Kid Krow touches on an issue that people — young and old — can relate to in some way.
“All I’ve ever wanted out of my music is for people to relate to it and to find some comfort in it because I find comfort in writing the songs,” he said, admitting that he wrote a total of 200 songs for the 12-track album.
And by providing a variety of tunes, Kid Krow debuted at the No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. And considering the album was finished before the coronavirus pandemic changed everything, he’s comforted in knowing that fans have used this album to find a safe space in today’s current climate.
“This time, in particular, is the time I’ve been turning to music a lot — to find a bit of security and a bit of normalcy,” Gray said. “And I’m glad that the music gets to do anything projective for this very scary time in our lives.”