Imagine getting into a red-faced screaming match with your partner about the best Jonas Brother, who ate the last Oreo, the intricacies of Cheer, or whatever else couples fight about. You confide in your friends, who support you through group texts and virtual hugs. But what if you texted your friend to vent and they responded with a full-on pop song inspired by your relationship problems?
That's exactly what Conan Gray, this month's MTV PUSH artist, does with his music. The 21-year-old's stirring vocals about intense, Gen Z emotions — see "The Story" and "Maniac" — aren't just informed by his own experiences, but from the people around him.
"I do this really annoying thing that my friends hate. If they rant to me while they're texting me, I'll turn around and then in an hour, I've sent them a text message of a song that I've written about the argument that they had with their boyfriend," he said. "They hate it, but it's really good inspiration. 'You know I'm not dating anyone, so I'll just write a song about you instead!'"
How long will this strategy last before Gray starts building more from his own experiences? Since he's so fresh to the music world, it's hard to say — especially since he's still pinching himself to make sure that all of this is real. After becoming an internet sensation — thanks to a YouTube presence that stretches back to 2013 and the breakout single "Idle Town" — he's now gearing up for the release of his debut studio album, Kid Krow, which is set to drop on March 20.
"The past year has been a lot of change and I haven't taken much time to take it in," Gray admitted about his rise to stardom. "I had no idea that everything was going to flip like that for me. I was sitting in my room on GarageBand without even the slightest clue that [my music] would go viral, I would get signed, and do all of these crazy things. I had no idea."
"Everything can change in a moment, and just that thought is something that kept me going," he added. "And I hope that people who listen to the album are able to take away that message as well."
Check out Gray's MTV Push interview above and see clips from his exclusive performances of "Maniac" and "The Story" here.