Conor Maynard’s ‘Massive Buzz’ Sparked By Bieber-Like Beginnings

The U.K. singer tells MTV News about his 'shady' start with mentor Ne-Yo.

Conor Maynard has a backstory very similar to 18-year-old Justin Bieber.

Like the Biebs, the British singer was discovered by a chart-topping R&B star after he started posting videos on YouTube. But in this case, it was Ne-Yo who discovered the young talent.

“I did a cover of Ne-Yo’s ‘Beautiful Monster,’ ” Maynard told MTV News. “[Ne-Yo] told a story where one of his friends called him [like] ‘Yo man, isn’t this kid singing ‘Beautiful Monster’ better than you singing it?’ He was a bit like ‘Ah, no, I’ll check that out.’ And he was like ‘Oh, damn, this kid does sing better than me.’

“It was funny how he kind of found me and then he told me that story,” he continued. But, Maynard was initially apprehensive when Ne-Yo’s camp reached out to him.

“I remember when I first got that phone call, it was from someone who claimed to be his manager,” he recalled. “And I was like, ‘OK, I want to believe this. It’s a bit shady.’ I just didn’t want to get out to America and then, you know, have one of my friends calling from my hometown go ‘It was me, got ya!’ So I had to make sure. Sure enough, I was sitting on Skype with Ne-Yo about 1:30 a.m., talking about music and him wanting to sign me. That’s what started this massive buzz in the U.K.”

From there, labels began to fight for Maynard’s attention. With his debut album, Contrast, already out abroad and the Capitol release set to drop in the States in September, Maynard isn’t just getting Ne-Yo’s attention. He’s also caught the eyes of Frank Ocean, who wrote a song for him , and super producer Pharrell Williams, who also worked with the singer and paid him a massive compliment.

“It’s been crazy. I had to get very used to meeting my idols very quickly,” he said. “I got to work with some incredible people. There’s some amazing, amazing names I’m honored to have on this album and I had to get used to meeting these people before I even released a track.

“I had to control myself [and] not want to run in there and lick their faces. I had to control that. I had to be normal at the same time,” he added. “It was exciting and it made me very, very driven to want to prove myself to them. Pharrell kind of sits me down and says, ‘I think you’re the future of pop music.’ And I’m like ‘OK.’ For me, it made me want to prove that.”

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