27-year-old Conrad Sewell has done it all, toured arenas, featured on hit tracks and played for royalty. Believe it or not his career’s only just begun.
Australia have heard it already but we’re still awaiting the official release of Conrad Sewell’s debut track, “Hold Me Up” in the UK. The singer-songwriter should have come to your attention with his feature on Kygo’s track, “Firestone”, a slow burning electronic ballad. Or perhaps when he took to the stage at Coachella to accompany his collab pal? Or maybe even supporting Ed Sheeran on his recent arena tour, take your pick.
We get to know the Brisbane-born, Bristol-raised singer and bond over 90s pop, late nights in Paris and dreams of working with Kanye.
You started when you were very young, do you think that your style has changed much over the years?
Yeah definitely, I don’t know if it’s changed, I’ve always like music. I grew up listening to a lot of soul. I’ve always very much loved big voices, voices of any type. I think it’s taken so long for me to get to here, I think I’ve learnt a lot and my songwriting is more developed and obviously changes the style of music that you want to write. I’ve definitely gone in and out of trends but it’s like anything, you’ve got to change.
Who would you say has been your biggest musical influence?
I grew up listening to pop music in the 90s, even like Mick Hucknall from Simply Red and Jamiroquai. I loved Prince, I loved Queen and even Coldplay. I was obsessed with Coldplay. The Killers! I loved The Killers! I loved U2 I always idolised big front men of rock. I loved the soulfulness of people like Michael Jackson and Prince and Elton John, I loved his songwriting. There’s not one set artist. All of the iconic pop stars of our day are the ones that I was completely infatuated with.
You can’t really go wrong with the icons! What’s your first musical memory?
My Mum was very creative and so instead of giving us Lego to play with and stuff like that, she’d send us into a room with paper and a pen and tell us to write songs. Just because she wanted to write songs! She used to write little songs for us when we were babies and we all used to sing them, my sister sings now too, we’d just sing songs we’d made up in the car.
It sounds like you come from a very musical family, who or what do you think has had the biggest impact on you?
It’s not one in particular I think it’s just coming from a non-traditional family in the sense of music was always very much accepted and it was a good thing. It was never like, “Ah! Go and do your homework,” it was like, “sing us those song ideas again!” I think it’s a very supporting and loving way you can grow up around it and it feels right. I’ve been around families before where music feels like a waste of time. It’s really not! It’s a great thing for a kid to have, it’s a great release and it’s creativity. I think that in general, not necessarily what person had the biggest influence.
Let’s talk about your old band! We’ve heard you were getting up to some wild stuff!
What did you read?
What about the time you played for the Princess of Monaco…
Somebody worked for Richard Branson, our record was doing well in Sweden and Richard Branson knew the royal family and they needed entertainment for this event and me and my guitarist met them. They flew us to Paris, we had rented suits on, we were the biggest ducks out of water it was hilarious, it was all royals, the boys had more jewels than the girls, it was insane. Here we are, just playing these songs and we ended up being the life of the party and took everyone underneath the Eiffel Tower to kick on and do an acoustic session. It was an amazing 24 hours in Paris. We were five loud Australians with alcohol problems so you could pretty much spot us or hear us and we’d be causing trouble. You can imagine the things we got up to living in Europe for a year with no parents, an apartment filled with boys, it was quite a year.
It sounds very intense!
Yeah! It was one of those things were you look back on it and think, “that’s the best time ever,” but at the time, we were like, “get me out of Berlin!”
You’re from Brisbane, do you think growing up in Australia has had any influence on the way you make music or the way you write?
I was born in Brisbane but I grew up in Bristol until I was about 12 and then moved back to Australia so I was always back and forth. Coming from both parts has effected me, I never felt like I was just Australian, I always looked at music from the world stage not just what was going on in Australia. We’d come back to the UK twice a year to see my Dad’s family so I’d see what was going on in the pop charts over here and we’d bring stuff back. I remember when the Spice Girls put out the first record, I remember getting the single for “Wannabe” over here and it didn’t come to Australia for about a year, it was way later. I remember blaring “Wannabe” in the car and no-one knew what it was. It was weird! We had Blue, all the UK pop stuff, so that’s had an effect on me, we loved everything and we followed that and some of it never really made it in Australia. That definitely had an effect on the way I started to make music when I was younger.
You’ve had the best of both worlds. You’ve just been on Kygo’s track “Firestone”, is there anyone else you’d like to work with? Do you have a dream collaboration?
I’m a big hip-hop fan so Kanye West or Drake would be amazing. Other interesting voices, Sam Smith and I love James Bay at the moment. There’s a bunch of people I’d love to collaborate with. I love to work with other artists because you can learn so much.
Talking about learning from other artists, did Ed Sheeran give you any advice while you were touring?
Yeah definitely, me and Ed became great friends on tour. He talked a lot about how important it is to continue to play live and tour and never let that slip away because that’s the most important part, connecting with your fanbase. A bunch of little things, we talked about how he came up and the different tours he took, I jumped straight onto an arena support with him whereas he toured with Snow Patrol first. He said maybe I should do a small theatre tour because that really helped him because it was a bit more intimate. He’s a great guy and very down to earth and had some great advice. He’s obviously been there and done it all.
Hopefully you’ll be following in his footsteps! Your debut single is coming soon so we’ve been told, what’s it all about?
The debut single is called “Hold Me Up” and it’s an up tempo rhythm RnB pop track. It came from a late night in the studio, we were trying to make something that was fun and had an uplifting lyric, for someone in your life who’s always there for you and whenever you’re down they bring you out of it. It’s a very unapologetic pop song but you can drive to it, you can dance to it, you can drink to it. It seemed like a fun one to come out with so hopefully everyone loves it. We’ve been playing it around and everyone seems to be enjoying it so, so far, so good!
That sounds amazing to us, drinking, driving and dancing!
Not all at the same time!
“Hold Me Up” by Conrad Sewell is out in the UK 24th July.
Words: Lily Walker