Are You Ready To Expand Your Whole Take On The Universe?
Interview with Soulful Pop Star Conrad Sewell
Interview: Conrad Sewell
With Song River
For: Vents Magazine
With a fresh sound of rock moving into the realm of soulful pop, Conrad Sewell is taking the lead globally and spinning sounds that are leaving his audience with words of praise. You can read accolades from Conrad's fans all over his social media accounts as he is certainly bringing his fans worldwide a frontman that delivers a warmth straight to the heart of music. Now signed to 300 Entertainment, settled in Los Angeles and a song with a bottle of coke... I finally caught up with Conrad just recently as he flew in from Paris.
Song River: Hey Conrad, we finally caught up with you! It's tough keeping your schedule. I understand you just flew in from Paris.
Conrad Sewell: Yeah, it has been busy! So glad I finally got the chance to speak with you Song. We were in Paris this morning and now we are in New York and it's been non-stop, but living the dream! I am enjoying it.
SR: What were you doing in Paris?
CS: Well, Coca-Cola just announced the voice of their new campaign with the song, “Taste The Feeling” I recorded it with Swedish artist and producer- Avicii!
SR: Whoa! Seriously Conrad? That is absolutely mind-blowing! The emblematic connection of music and cola's have been around for a long time. I know even though you're probably suffering from jet leg right now, you must be flying so high!
CS: It is such an incredible opportunity and so many iconic artists have been involved with that brand before too. So, when they came to me with the idea it was really cool.
SR: You are right, there has been this long line of iconic musicians involved with the two largest manufacturers of cola. It's kind of ironic someone had just sent me this morning the iconic Pepsi commercial done back in the '90s with David Bowie and Tina Turner “Modern Love” being the tune used. Heck go back even further and The Andrew Sisters did a song called, “Rum and Coca-Cola.” Coke has been a part of our lives for generations and like music, it is understood universally to make us feel connected.
I'd like to take a moment Conrad as we talk icons here. With the recent passing of several well-known diverse artist in their own right, Bowie's touches I am sure even influenced you.
CS: Yes, definitely. I was late in coming to the game on his music though as I grew up more on the Motown sounds, and Michael Jackson and Prince. I actually found Bowie, by someone having me check his music out, and I went back through his works. Well it just completely blows your mind. The creativity and lyric writing. I mean as a songwriter that just opened a whole other world.
SR: Well, when we talk about artists like Jackson, Prince and Bowie we are talking about artists who know how to take words and create something deeper, more meaningful.
CS: Oh, 100%. The music that Bowie created was just out of this world. I wish I could say I was cool enough to know about it a lot earlier in my life. I am just grateful when my world gets opened to a whole new realm of music. It expands your whole take on the world of music.
SR: I like that, “expands your whole take on the world of music.” I think if we are going to grow as musicians or in any facet we have to take in other ideas and ways of doing things.
Howdo you classify yourself vocally, pop singer or more soul singer? I know I found my ear tuning into more of soulful sound, yet with an eclectic pop on the peripheral.
CS: To be honest I sing anything. I grew up singing Jazz, I played in a rock band, but my heart leans towards soul music and R&B that is what I grew up on. My mom would listen to Gladys Night and the Pips, Temptations all the way to Michael Jackson. Even though I grew up listening to more soul and R&B as my musical journey began I learned everything. All my music though will always have a pop twist to it, (laughed) I did grow up in the 90's. It was when dirty pop was all you could listen to. Those songs and those melodies were engrained into my head. I still hear that pop'ness when I write. I think it comes out as a nice blend of soul and pop. I don't think it's generic, it's not manufactured. When you listen you see and hear it's for real.
SR: I certainly pick up a soulful sound. I did hear a sound a bit like Simply Red, not sure if you're familiar with that musician?
CS: Oh, darling I am all over it! Trust me. One of my favorites of all times. He's super amazing and I hear he got on with the ladies pretty well too. (laughed).
SR: It's the voice.
CS: It is amazing what a voice can do.
SR: Well, I am sure state-side the longer you are here you have to be running into the females loving your accent? It would seem girls have a special flip for Australian and British accents over in the states.
CS: (laughed) It definitely works in my favor in this country. It seems the long blonde hair and the accent get me into places.
SR: Enjoy it, you might as well as embrace it.
I was reading on Billboard's recently 2016 Industry Predictions that you said you would like to see “rock come back in a fresh way, like Kings of Leon or The Killers did when they broke out.” First, can you dig a little deeper into what you mean be 'fresh?'
CS: Well, I love rock music and I feel one thing this generation hasn't really had enough of is good frontmen and rock bands. I mean there have been a few on pop radio to play rock, like, Imagine Dragons had their bit last year, but I think I'd love to see another Stones come through. A bit of swagginess to them, something like that sound, but not a throwback, modern. I totally like some more rock on the radio.
SR: Music seems to be more than just in your blood, if a doctor was to take a sampling of your DNA I think the gene pool would confirm it! ;) I understand your grandparents were performers and had something to do with the Bee Gees?
CS: Well, my grandparents were singers. My grandfather was like, Australia's version of Tom Jones, at least, he likes to say he is. (laughed). I have pictures and newspaper clippings of them touring and doing the county fair in Australia with the Bee Gee's before the Bee Gee's were the Bee Gee's. You know Barry is my mother's godfather. So, music was around my mom from a very early age. My mom though didn't become a singer, she's an artist, she loves to draw. I remember from a very young age my mom and I would write songs together, she helped push me into the arts I guess you could say.
SR: As I understand it, you aren't the only one out of your siblings that have musical passions?
CS: My baby sister, Grace, there's a ten year age difference between us. She just recently put out a record with Quincy Jones, and a remake of Lesley Gore's song, “You Don't Own Me.” She's just had a number one in Australia and she's had one in the U.K. Its pretty crazy it's happening for her at the same time it is for me. It's pretty strange as I used to change her nappy.
SR: Have you both considered ever working together?
CS: Actually we write together all the time. We recently wrote a song, which I think is going to be on both of our albums. Kind of like a Diana Ross/Michael Jackson throwback thing.
We both though are very competitive and we both like to sing the lead, so we need to find the right song. We want to put out something pretty special, so it has to fit.
SR: Is Australia producing more of the blue's/soulful side of music nowadays? I am noticing several artists coming from there that are.
CS: I think the blues is, yeah. We love our blues roots in Australia. I think it may be finally reaching across the pond. Maybe we are just realizing that with spotify and other ways of sharing music it's happening. We now can just hop on a plane and move half way across the world. I know I didn't think much of it when I made the move. I just did it.
SR: Maybe that is what Australia is going to give us, this 'fresh rock.' What songs off this new EP, “All I Know” have really spoken from your heart?
CS: “Start Again” was the first song I wrote when I came out here. That really started this whole solo project for me. “Remind Me” is a sort of big soulful gospel song, that's the next single. I think it's a song that really looks into who I am and what my voice can do when I am nothing but stripped down to a piano. All of the songs come from my heart, they are about stories in past relationships and dealing with life. I think the ones that best represent me though I would say are “Remind Me” and, “Start Again.”
SR: Well, thank you, Conrad, for taking some time out of your schedule to chat with me today. Get some rest and when you come across the states on tour to support your new album, let's meet up and get some good Mexican food.
CS: Amazing and it's been lovely talking with someone who knows what they are talking about (laughed). Thank you and take care.