Back in March, Kid Krow spent 26 weeks on the Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 5, becoming the biggest debut album of 2020.
The indie-pop album spawned hits like “Maniac” and “Heather” — but who is Conan Gray, the Gen Z singer-songwriter behind the album?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Conan Gray saw songwriting as an escape as a child.
Gray was born on Dec. 5, 1998. He had a difficult childhood: His father was in the military so the family moved a dozen times before settling in Georgetown, Texas. Gray, who is of Irish and Japanese heritage, was often one of only a handful of Asians at school and dealt with frequent bullying.
He started to write songs at age 12 as a form of escapism.
“I had a really shitty childhood,” he told Republic Records. “The opportunity to heal scars by writing songs and then going on tour and singing those songs to thousands of fans is a form of escapism. Work is how I’ve handled my trauma.”
He was a well-known YouTuber before he became a musician.
Gray began making videos at age 9 and has had his current YouTube channel since 2013. He currently has 3.38 million YouTube subscribers, 3.4 million Instagram followers and 3.5 million TikTok followers.
“The internet had people and I didn’t as a kid,” Gray told Polygon about his YouTube career. “All of my friends today are people I met years ago on YouTube. That’s a powerful thing to realize.”
He opened for Panic! at the Disco in 2019.
Recently, Gray’s musical star has been on the rise. In 2019, he made his Late Night With Seth Meyers debut and opened for Panic! at the Disco on tour. He released his debut album Kid Krow on Mar. 20, 2020, which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the U.S. Pop Albums chart.
Gray is very private about his dating life.
The internet has spent a lot of time trying to label Gray’s sexuality and thus far, he has resisted being put in a box.
“If labels on sexuality and gender and beliefs and all that great stuff are helpful for you, I’m all for it. You do you. But the second you start trying to shove everyone else into a neat little easy to understand box, I get mad,” Gray said on Twitter.
The artist generally doesn’t identify his love interests in songs with pronouns, but provided some insight into his love life on the song “Heather.” In the video, Gray is in love with someone who is in love with a mysterious person named Heather.
“Anything to be loved back by the person I loved. Anything to be their first choice,” Gray told VMan of the video. “The slow transformation throughout the video was made to represent the feminine and masculine traits I constantly switched between in order to become who I knew my crush would like. Somebody soft and sweet. Somebody like Heather.”
He’s a big fan of Taylor Swift and Lorde.
The first music video Gray ever watched on YouTube was one of Swift’s, and he’s been hooked on her music ever since. The admiration seems to be mutual between the two artists, as Swift has publicly expressed how much she likes Gray’s debut album.
“[Swift] just recently, literally four days ago, put my song ‘Wish You Were Sober’ on her Instagram Story,” Gray told Zane Lowe during an interview for Apple Music in April. “I literally lost my mind. She DM’d me afterwards. She was so, so sweet. She told me that my album was perfect, which I was like, ‘Taylor, that’s all you need to say. I can die now.'”
Gray is also a big fan of Lorde. He has covered her song “Liability” and even told MTV he wanted to marry her.
He’s also good friends with Billie Eilish.
Gray became friends with Billie Eilish when he was 17 and she was 15.
“Watching her have to figure out all these little things along the way has been really helpful for me,” Gray told E! News. “Watching her work so hard and also all the things that have happened along the way, it has been really eye-opening.”
Many of his songs have inspired TikTok trends.
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