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REPORT


MUSIC


CONOR MAYNARD


FROM COVERS TO COMING OF AGE...


Pharrell said he’ll ‘change the face of music’ and he’s already hailed as the British Bieber – this 18-year-old is flying high, with over 90 million YouTube hits and 300,000 Twitter followers! hooks up with Conor Maynard atop EMI HQ’s scenic roof garden to discuss new album , not signing with Ne-Yo and something about pandas...


What’s an average day for you? Very busy, getting up really early, which is great! There’s a level of commitment that’s expected from you being a singer and you’ve got to give 110 per cent, otherwise someone else will take that from you.


Before you were signed, did you ever anticipate this lifestyle? When you’re not in the music industry, it looks like it’s all fun, like all they do is music videos and party with other big artists. But it’s not. You have to make a lot of sacrifices too. For example, I’ve moved away from home, so I don’t get to see my family and friends as much as I used to.


Did you ever think you’d make it big through YouTube? I never expected it, but it was a pleasant surprise! I started uploading covers so my friends and family could watch them. I used to get asked to sing at school every day, and didn’t get to eat my lunch [laughs]; I really wanted to eat my lunch so I started putting covers online. One day I did a cover of Usher’s ‘OMG’ and a proper video – it went to 100,000 views. Next I did ‘Beautiful Monster’ [Ne-Yo]. I didn’t know if it was going to do the same or if it was a one-off. It hit one million views, so it was crazy to see it blow up.


Do you look at comments? I try to. I used to try to reply to each one, which now would take the rest of my life. I love reading them. I


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always try to keep up with what fans are thinking and what they want next.


What about bad comments? YouTube is ruthless. The ones where it is constructive criticism, you take on board and think, right, next I’m going to show them what they want. But sometimes they’re just stupid. I’m lucky because the amazing comments outweigh those.


You were spotted by Ne-yo – it was a bold decision not to sign with him, why did you decide that? I thought about it; I wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s Ne-yo, tell me not to sign with him!’ I listened to people around me who knew about contracts better than I did, people looking out for my best interests. That just wasn’t: I would have had to move to America, I was only 17; I would have had to leave my family because they couldn’t have come with me. It would have been a massive jump, when I had offers that were better and easier. There were never any grudges, it was clear why, and Ne- Yo’s now featuring on the album and has written an incredible song for it.


You’ve been compared to Justin Bieber – how are you different? He’s a massive artist and I’m so early in my career, so to be compared is both crazy and flattering. We are both young and both came from YouTube; but in terms of music we


are releasing, he’s still got the pop element, and I’m British – my writing has British influences and I think I’ve got a mature RnB sort of thing.


You’re getting a lot of attention from the ladies. Are you single? Yeah, I am… What’s up? [Winks] I’m joking. It would be difficult because so much of my time is spent doing what I do, so I’d never be there and it would be ridiculous. That’s something for the future hopefully.


Have you had any funny gifts or feedback from fans yet? Early on, when I was doing covers, a woman claimed her first child was conceived while listening to one of my songs, so that was a nice story I read out to my mum on Facebook, not realising what it said. I get a lot of pandas... I’ll let you look into why!


Advice for other young musicians? Use YouTube as a platform. What worked when I did it was: take a song, but no matter what you do, make it your own... your own style, whether you change the lyrics or melody, whatever it takes to make people become a fan of you rather than the song. That’s when people start to respect you as an artist.


Album is out July 31 Follow Conor Maynard on Twitter @ConorMaynard or visit www.conor-maynard.com


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