Music

Conan Gray Reveals What Made Him Realize ‘I Have to Live My Life’

Last week, pop star Conan Gray released his vibrant third album Found Heaven — and soon before, he stopped by Billboard News to discuss everything from falling in love for the first time to working with Max Martin to bring that feeling to life.

“It very much affected how I made the music,” says Gray, who also shares that “this whole album is highs and lows.”

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He says he started the ideation process during his Superache Tour nearly two years ago. As he recalls, after each performance he would retreat to the basement “because there’s always a piano in the basement of these theaters I was playing… that’s when I would notice these different themes I was writing about.”

He later tapped the MXM songwriting and production crew of Max Martin, ILYA and Oscar Holter to help flesh those various themes out, saying they “really opened up my eyes and wings to all of the different sides of myself that I could try out. … They wanted to push me to do something that was the whole array of me.”

And while Found Heaven does boast power-pop hits like “Never Ending Song” and “Lonely Dancers,” the album also features more intimate songs like “Forever With Me,” album closer “Winner” and standout track “Alley Rose.” As Gray says, “When I first recorded [‘Alley Rose’], I recorded it in the same voice as the rest of the album, a bit more energetically. And then I was like, ‘Wait, I need to not do that. I need to sing it as calm and tender as possible — each song requires a different part of me. … I feel lucky that people give me the space to do both.”

Gray also opened up about the love that inspired much of this album — and the heartbreak he had to process soon after. As he tells it, after flying to London for their scheduled meet-up, he landed to a text ultimately ending the relationship. And yet, he wouldn’t change a thing about his experiences surrounding Found Heaven — and his necklace of a star cutout inside a teardrop is a reminder of exactly that.

“In all the things that make you cry, the happiest moments of your life and the saddest moments of your life, there is a magic in the fact that you even got to experience it at all,” says Gray. “I’ve spent so many years of my life hiding in my room and not doing anything and being so afraid of ever getting hurt or rejected or feeling bad, that I ended up living no life. I kept this on my neck the whole time I was making this album [as a reminder] that I have to live my life.”

To hear what else Gray said of his latest album, watch the full interview above.

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