Editors’ Notes The title of Conan Gray’s debut LP could also be the 21-year-old singer-songwriter’s superhero name. “My friends have always joked that if I were an animal I would be a crow,” Gray tells Apple Music. “All of my friends and my fans know that I'm a cynical person. I had a dark enough past as a kid, and so in my teen years and adult years, I just kind of laugh at the things that go wrong in my life.” Gray’s personality is on full display throughout Kid Krow, a set of post-genre bedroom pop that has all the candor and content of a good diary. “I feel like I write in a way that's very conversational,” Gray says. “It sounds the same way that I speak normally. These are all songs that I wrote completely by myself in my room, and I feel like anyone who listens to the record can hear my voice in every one. I think what binds them all together in my head is just that they're all me.” Here, Gray tells us the stories behind every song on the album.
Comfort Crowd “I'm from a small town in Texas called Georgetown, like an hour away from Austin. And then I moved to LA to go to UCLA. To go from this small town to a massive city with tons of people from all across the world: It was a total realignment of who I was, everything that I wasn't used to. I was so homesick and I missed my friends back home so much. They're the ones who keep me sane, so I just wanted to be with them and hang out with them the way we used to. We would just sit around on the couch and show each other stupid things on our phones and enjoy each other's company without even having to talk at all. The second I wrote it, I was like, this feels so much like me as a person, so that's also why it's the first track on the album and it's the oldest one that I've written that's on the album.”
Wish You Were Sober “It's a song that I ended up sticking on the album last minute ’cause it was so much fun when I was making it. I wrote it about this person who I really, really liked and I wrote a lot of songs on my album about them and they just wouldn't tell me that they liked me back or would never tell me their true feelings unless they were blackout drunk. It was a weird, bittersweet feeling, because on one side you're thinking, ‘Yay, they like me and they have feelings for me and they like me back.’ On the other side you're thinking, ‘Why can't you tell me this when you're sober? Why can't you tell me this in daylight?’ I think the song is about all those mixed emotions and all the craziness behind being young and getting super drunk and calling someone and telling them that you love them.”
Maniac “‘Maniac’ is a song that I wrote in the shower. I was in New York. I had just gotten this crazy text from someone that I hadn't talked to in months. It was like, ‘Oh, Conan, you're so manipulative and crazy and you've been telling all my friends this and you've been saying this and this and that.’ I was just so confused. Like, ‘What’s going on in your head? I don't know what you're talking about, and you're calling me insane, but let's get this clear: You are the crazy one in the situation. Like, you're the maniac, you're insane.’ I've had a few people think that it's about me, and I'm like, ‘No.’ For once in my life, I am not being the insane one.”
(Online Love) “I was really raised by the internet, and so a lot of those relationships that I built and have built in the past few years have happened solely over the internet. There was someone that I really liked—I was always curious what would have happened to us if we weren't just an online love. What would have happened if you lived next door and we actually got to go to cafes and see each other? Would we have worked out? Because it's never worked out. I've never dated anyone before, and I think anyone from my generation, any one of me and my friends can relate to love these days just fully happens online and that's just how it is.”
Checkmate “The stage of grief where you're just angry, like pure rage: That was when I wrote ‘Checkmate.’ I was just like, ‘Oh man, f**k you.’ It’s a song that I wrote in a moment of pure seething anger. ‘I want to rip your head off, you are the worst person I've ever met.’ It was this person who was always playing games with me all the time, always playing games with my heart, and I figured if you want to play games with me, if you're going to play games with my heart and if you're going to treat love like it's some kind of game, then I'm going to win the game and I'm going to ruin your life.”
The Cut That Always Bleeds “I was at a point in this relationship where there was no point in being in the relationship and I was trying so hard to get over this person, but every single time, the second that I was just about to get over it, the second I was just starting to feel good and normal again, they would pop back in my life and just tear my heart into a million pieces again and then disappear. It was like no matter what I did, I was just trapped. They were this cut on my body that I was trying so hard to let heal over and they would just come back in and it would just bleed and bleed and bleed. I wrote it in a stage of misery, in Chicago. I was sitting in my hotel room and I was actually supposed to see the person, but instead I got this insane flu and I was just sitting in bed with a really high fever and I sang the first line of the song to my phone and that's how the whole entire song came out.”
Fight or Flight “‘Fight or Flight’ is the one that I kind of wanted to have a bit of fun with. I wanted it to be this super chaotic, melodramatic song about finding out that someone has cheated on you, or finding out that someone has multiple people in their lives that you just didn't know about. It was my response to getting put in that situation, and also meeting someone and finding out that maybe they're not the person that you think they are. Like you're definitely talking to a bit of a player.”
Affluenza “I grew up with financial ups and downs my whole entire life. We didn't know how we were going to survive, and I was so used to not having money that when I was young, I always thought that money would solve all of my issues. Then I moved to LA and I discovered this whole other side of the world where there's these kids who grew up insanely rich. I started hanging out with them and going to their parties and seeing this other side of the world, and I discovered that even these people who grew up with tons of money are absolutely miserable. I figured out that it doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter how much money you have. We all have a lot of the same problems.”
(Can We Be Friends?) “Both of the interludes I wrote just for the fans, for the people who listen to the album from top to bottom. It was another way of talking to the listener and being like, ‘Hey, thank you for listening to my album. This is everything you ever need to know about me. These are all of my deepest, darkest secrets, and I would love to be your best friend. Just thank you for caring.’ It's also a song that I wrote from the perspective of what I would say to my best friends back home, a love letter towards platonic friendship. I feel like friendship is something that is never really talked about in music ever. It's always love, and there's no one on earth that I love more than my friends.”
Heather “‘Heather’ is the song on the album that I always cry to. I think it's the most honest recount of my love life at the moment. It’s about a girl named Heather—I think everyone has a Heather in their life. The person that I really, really liked was in love with Heather. They were not in love with me, and because of that, I f**king hated Heather. I hated Heather with all of my heart and soul. I had no reason to hate Heather. Heather is a perfectly nice girl. She's sweet and she's pure and she smells like daisies—she’s perfect, but I hate her. It's this humiliating thing to admit, but it's just true. I'm scared to see how people are going to react, because it isn't a good thing to think something like that, but I also think it's something that I've never really heard anyone admit. I'm sorry, Heather. You’re a wonderful person.”
Little League “I wasn't a Little League player at all. I think for me, Little League was always a signifier of my youth. We would go to see my friends’ Little League games and we'd all buy popsicles from the concession stand and watch it and cheer and get super sunburned. When you're young and then you get older and then all of a sudden you're in the big leagues and you're like, ‘How the hell do I handle anything that's going on ever?’ It's so scary to get older. ‘Little League’ is my song talking about the fear of growing up, and it's also just about my best friend back home. I miss her all the time, and her name's Ashley. I wear a necklace with her name on it every single day, and it's me just missing her and missing times when life was so much simpler.”
The Story “The album is so chaotic, and it can be pretty sad and dark at times in the middle. I wanted to end on a more hopeful note. I had a pretty rough childhood; a lot of it was just really unsafe. There were times as a kid that I wished so badly that I just didn't exist anymore. I wanted so badly for my pain to stop, and I wanted to just stop existing. Every single time that I would hit those rock-bottom moments, something would just tell me to keep going. I wanted to write a song talking about all those moments in my life and all the things that happened to me and my friends growing up where we thought that life was just going to stop, but with the smallest amount of courage—and with people who can show you that they love you—you can keep going and it's never really the end.”
Wish You Were Sober
The Cut That Always Bleeds
Fight or Flight
(Can We Be Friends?)
12 Songs, 33 Minutes
March 20, 2020
℗ 2020 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
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