Interview: Conner Youngblood
Posted in Interviews
"No matter how imaginative the lyrics may be, behind every song is a true-ish story."
Our fascination with Conner Youngblood is nothing new. It was early last November when the 21-year-old Dallas, TX resident first caught our ear with his beautifully haunting tune "Monsters". The song was so beyond anything we had ever heard before, and still is to this day. A detached, country-style banjo strums faintly behind a spacey dubstep wobble...all while this entrancing voice radiates over it. It was musically fascinating, and needless to say it got our attention. But soon after when we went to search for more music/ information on who Conner Youngblood is...we were left disappointed when we found little to no information on him. Even in the blogosphere where everyone knows about everyone, Conner was virtually unknown. And for the amount of talent he has, that kind of freaked us out. Fast-forward seven months, and although his music has gained a little more exposure, the notion of who exactly Conner Youngblood is is still a mystery. Well we here at LFTF were not cool with that. Recently we went on a mission to get in touch with this Youngblood character to figure out who exactly he is, and more importantly, how the hell he is making this wonderful music. Through some undignified Facebook stalking that we certainly are not proud of...we finally got ahold of our guy.
Hello Conner, thanks for taking time to talk to us. Tell us a little about yourself. Where you’re from, where you’re living now, your age, that sort of thing.
What’s up guys, where should I start…I was born and (still currently being) raised in Dallas, TX, I am going to be a senior next year at Yale, and I turned 21 back in January (hooray!).
So you go to school at Yale. That’s pretty interesting, what are you studying?
American Studies…don’t ask. All right, all right, I’ll tell you anyways. I thought I was going to be a super-sick Architecture major, until I didn’t get into the architecture school (apparently you need to know how to draw), and American Studies kindly accepted all of my credits.
Do you plan on going into the field of American Studies after college?
I don’t even know what one really does with an American Studies degree, but my focus is in film, literature, and music. Not much of a ‘focus’ but I’m just going with the flow for now.
So where would you place music in your life? As in, do you ever think about trying to make it big and focusing solely on music...or is it just more of a hobby right now?
Everyday music has become more and more of a reality for me. A couple of years ago I would have never imagined trying to play music for the rest of my life and would have considered it as much as a hobby as playing Super Smash Bros, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’m in it for the long run.
When did you first get into making music?
I played clarinet for a couple of years in middle school band if that counts haha. That was a waste of time, but on a serious note I got my first guitar in 7th grade, and didn’t write my first song until senior year of high school. Even though I had been playing instruments for years, it took me a while to feel comfortable with my voice.
Walk us through your creative process when making a song. Where do you start?
A lot of the times I will just jam with myself using a loop pedal with a synth and a few of my acoustic instruments hooked up into it, and just create beats galore. Sometimes I’ll just hum/sing a cool line or melody that I record into my phone and save for later. And some times I come up with something acoustic first and then either keep it acoustic or start adding electronic layers. This process can take a year or a day depending on the song/how focused I am.
Each song of yours is extremely diverse, and as far as your sound goes, you’ve tried a lot of different routes. Your Myspace page lists “Bluegrass / Club / Indie” as your different genere’s for god’s sake. Is this something you do on purpose or did it just sort of happen that way?
It’s a little bit of both. I’m really ADHD when it comes to just about anything and music is no different. I get bored of instruments so I like to mix it up. First I got a guitar, then a banjo, then a charango, then started playing some piano, got an accordion, got a harp, got an oud, got a synth, bought a drum set last month haha, bought some other random shit along the way, and started putting it all together. So with such a full arsenal of weird instruments I can’t help but make a wide range of music.
When writing lyrics, do you mainly pull inspiration from personal experiences or from something totally different?
I definitely like to be inspired from mostly personal experiences. I like to take pretty personal things and sort of cover them up with ambiguous, creative lyrics. But no matter how imaginative the lyrics may be, behind every song is a true-ish story.
I notice the presence of the guitar is in almost all of your songs. Would you say it is your primary instrument?
Yeah, lately I’ve been relying on the guitar more than usual. I probably consider myself best at banjo, since it’s the only instrument I’ve taken serious lessons for, and also enjoy the charango and piano a lot. It’s a tough call to say which instrument is my primary…tie between guitar, banjo, and charango.
When we heard your most recent song “Summer Song” we were instantly in love. Can you tell us a little about the meaning/background of the song?
"Summer Song" was a result of me being pumped for spring break, warm weather, and girls. It’s a mixture of me reminiscing over past summers as well as looking forward to a new one. It’s about summer love, skateboarding, drinking, driving (not at the same time of course), and just cruising in general.
Have you had the chance to perform your music live yet? If so, what do your shows consist of (instruments, backing band)?
I’ve played mostly at school and a few times outside of school. It’s a solo show with me playing synth, guitar, banjo, and charango all hooked up into my loop pedal and then I proceed to recreate my beats live. I’ve never played with a backing band, but it could be cool though.
What/who have you been listening to lately?
Kanye still, the new Bon Iver album, way too many dubstep remixes, Miles Davis (not completely by choice, nor by force, but just took a great class on him), and Yes.
If you could only listen to 3 albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
1. Duncan Browne - Duncan Browne
2. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever ago
3. Can I just say the Bob Dylan collection? Jeez he has way too many good albums…I guess I’d go with The Times are A-Changin’
Best song to make love to?
I remember knocking on one of my friends doors trying to get a jacket I left in there late one night, and hearing Neil Young’s "Ohio", creaking, and loud moans… I decided that I should just get the jacket in the morning. Now I can’t help but think of dirty sex whenever I hear that song haha, great song.
Best song to get in a fight to?
Either "You Don’t Want Drama" by 8-Ball and MJG or "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges. Not just any type of fight, but the kind of fight where you end up head-butting somebody to finish it off.
Best song to live by?
"The Weight" by The Band
And last but certainly not least, can we expect any new music coming from Conner Youngblood in the near future? We’re dying to hear some new gems.
I’ve got a few new ones sitting on my laptop that I’m still figuring out what to do with, and will be recording a couple more next week. I might just keep em all to myself and wait to release them collectively on an EP or full length album, but I’ll probably just end up giving them all away on the internet as usual. Its too hard holding on to these songs when all you want to do is share them with people, so except some more stuff in a couple of weeks.