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Exclusive Interview: PAUSE Meets Conor Maynard

An in-depth chat with Conor Maynard that covers twenty-one years gone and twenty more to come.

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Interviewer: Jordan Bunker
Photographer: Benjamin Glean
Stylist: Samantha Ria
Grooming: Alexis Day
First Assistant Stylist: Cherrelle Douglas
Assistant Stylist: Peter Jones
Assistant Photographer: Patricia Mirembe
Videographer & Video Editor: Johnson Gold

At only twenty-one he finds himself amongst the cusp of British artists. With a number one album secured and having already worked with the likes of Ne-Yo, Labrinth and Timbaland, Conor Maynard’s career has been going from strength to strength with no signs of stopping. We spent the day with Conor to talk about his music, 2013 highlights, and his thoughts on all things fashion.

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Looking back on 2013, it seems you’ve had a pretty busy year. What have been the standout moments for you?
There’s quite a few, I think for me one of the coolest things is probably a lot of the festivals I did. I opened up the main stage at Wireless which was amazing and that was the day Justin Timberlake was headlining. I got to go out there and watch one of my idols perform on stage. I did for a second contemplate whether I should wait until I finish wait behind the drum set and jump out and ask him “do you want to work with me?” I probably would have got dragged off by security in front of everyone! I went out after the show and it was amazing. V festival was amazing as well. I think the festival vibe is always really fun; you get to perform and then are free to watch everybody else.

Now you’ve been making music for a couple years; do you feel you’ve found yourself in the industry and found ‘your sound’?
I think so. I like trying loads of different things and I wouldn’t say I have a specific sound just yet; for me it’s trying different things and seeing exactly what I really feel comfortable in. For me the first album was quite versatile. It went from big and upbeat – almost dancy, down to stripped back ballads. For me I’m too all over the place to have ‘a sound’. In the studio one day I’ll be like ‘let’s do an upbeat song’ and then I’ll say ‘let’s do a ballad’. If I had one sound I’d feel too restricted. I like to try different things and take influences from other people.

Do you still enjoy creating YouTube covers?
That’s my really personal collection of fans. That’s where I started. They almost started my career. Most artists until recently get signed and then put on radio and then get fans, but for me I had fans before any of that. With YouTube I had my own little fanbase and then they took me to the next level where people were going ‘who’s this kid with all these views on YouTube and followers on Twitter?’ Then the label came in after that. I like to go back to my YouTube covers because it’s like my personal collection with my fans.

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How would you describe your sense of style?
Kind of similar to my music. I like to try different things; I like to keep it versatile. I don’t want people thinking that’s exactly what Conor would wear. Whether it’s really smart or casual, even urban, I try loads of different stuff going in between indie and urban.

On stage you’re a little more out there, especially where you’re doing those shows like a festival with loads of artists where you want to be remembered. Artists forget sometimes, your presentation is as important as your performance. For me, I definitely take it seriously with what I wear when I get out there. Sometimes the heat kind of restricts you as to how crazy you can be with big jackets, but when I go on stage I like to go out there. One of the first big shows I did was the Summertime Ball with Capital at Wembley stadium and I wore these bright luminous AF1’s and that’s all anyone talked about for ages. That was kind of the first time I realised how much of an impact your presentation and what you wore had on the audience.

Who are you influenced by in fashion? Who would you name as your inspiration?
Everyone now and then different people pop out and go out there. I do love Lady Gaga’s craziness but sometimes she goes too far. I feel like sometimes it’s cool because people talk about it and I feel like I do respect that kind of mentality she has. Chris Brown, in terms of what he wears, that’s where I take my urban influences from. Tinie Tempah, I feel he always looks sharp. There’s something about him; I don’t know what it is. He always looks sharp in what he wears.

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In terms of your second album, we’ve been teased with R U Crazy, is this what we can expect from the upcoming album? At the beginning of the R U Crazy video there’s a jazz version, is that a new element you want to work with?
I mean, I think it was weird that part of the song was almost random. Basically Labrinth produced the song originally and his manager called mine and said ‘Labrinth has done a little remix’ and obviously when you think of his remix you think of a massive Earthquake, and he sends it over and it’s a fully swing version and we were like ‘what!’ After one listen I loved it. It was completely different I loved it so much. It was supposed to be a remix on the package when you buy the single. I really wanted people to hear it to it. People often don’t listen to the B-sides or they just buy the one song they want and leave the rest out. I wanted it to be in the video and that was the idea. I’d definitely like to pursue more things down that route but I think it’s very hard to make a hit that sounds like that. When people think hits they want big and crazy productions when you come in with a song like that people are kind of confused but it works and it definitely indicates people are ready for it, it’s a massive throwback, before I was born! For me to do that, it would be weird, but I’d like it!

Are there any dream collaborators that you want to work with? Are they on this new album?
I’ve worked with a lot of people who I’m massive fans of that I kind of idolised growing up. On the first album I was lucky enough to work with Pharrell. I did two tracks with Pharrell on the first album, Frank Ocean wrote one of the songs on my album, obviously Ne-Yo.  The collaboration with Ne-Yo, that was crazy. Rita Ora, I got to work with her as well, Wiley. There are loads of collaborations on the first album which for me is just ridiculous. With the second album, it’s like ‘how are you going to top it?’ I don’t necessarily want to top it, I just want to maybe take a step back and think let’s have this album purely through me, first album it was fun to do all those collaborations, but the second album I’d rather have it just about my music, myself as an artist. There will be collaborations in the future. When people step forward and want to work with you it’s hard to say no to people. I recently did a track that has had a little input from Timbaland which was ridiculous and fun to do. For me, it’s more about me as opposed to loads of collaborations. If I had to pick dream collaborations, I’d pick people who are slightly different to me, so Emile Sande and Ed Sheeran.

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There seems to be quite a few artists that are getting more involved with fashion and design. Could you see yourself doing something similar?
That could be cool. I feel like right now so much of my focus is on music; I don’t have much time to think of anything else in terms of what I want to do. One day I’ll go ‘Right, okay I’ve done all this in music, what’s next?’ I also love acting; it’s something I would love to do as I get further in my career. It all kind of ties in. Music, fashion and acting all tie in to each other quite a lot. I want to dip into loads of different things.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years from now?
20 years… hopefully still going, hopefully people remember who I am. I’ll be 41. Things will be different by then; it would be quite hard to be that young, cool popstar when I’m 41, as that might not be an option no more. I feel like when you grow up you change. It could be within music, or as I said acting. There are so many things left I am yet to achieve in the future. I don’t know where I’ll be, hopefully I’ll have achieved a lot more that I wanted to when growing up.

Finally, to sum up their day with PAUSE with one #hashtag, what would it be?
#Slick

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