Conan Gray「何がスタンダードなんて決まっていない。自分自身であることが大事だとみんなが理解できるようになるために、お互いヘルプし合えたらいい」Interview with Conan Gray about “Kid Krow”

NeoL

2020/5/3 17:00



恋愛など日常のハッピーな出来事ではなく、自身の辛い経験やもどかしい思いをリアルに綴った言葉を、エレクトロニックや生音などさまざまな機材や要素を取り入れたサウンドで表現。また、ジェンダーレスなヴィジュアルも独特の世界観を放ち、2019年初めよりネット上ではビリー・アイリッシュのような注目を集めていた、コナン・グレイ。2020年3月に待望の初アルバム『Kid Krow』では、自身の生い立ちそして現在までを、時にメランコリックに、時にエモーショナルに表現し、すでに大きな絶賛を獲得している。そんなアルバムについてだけでなく、自身と音楽、さらにルーツのひとつである「日本」とのつながりについても聞いた。(→ in English)

──あなたは日本人の血が流れているそうですね。

Conan : そうだよ。日本とアメリカのハーフ。母親が広島県出身だから、子供の頃そこに2年半暮らしていたよ。

──日本語は話せますか?

Conan : 日本語は実は最初に話し始めた言語なんだけど、もう全然覚えてなくて。ただ食べ物の名前だけはたくさん覚えてる(笑)シャケムスビ、オニギリ、カレーパンとか(笑)。子供の時に食べてたものの名前は覚えてるよ。

──音楽的ルーツの中に、日本の経験、音楽からの影響はありますか?

Conan : 僕の音楽の中では自分の子ども時代が多く反映されているんだけど、ジャパニーズ・アメリカンとしてテキサスで育った経験は大きく影響していると思う。半分日本人としてアメリカで暮らすのは、僕にとって容易ではなかった。アメリカに住んでいるしアメリカ人だけれど半分日本人でもあるし、自分をどうアメリカの生活にフィットさせればいいのかわからなかったんだよね。今こそそれが特徴だと思えるし、自分の魅力の一つだとその部分を愛することが出来ているけど、それがわかるまでは時間がかかった。ずっと孤独で、自分はアウトサイダーだと感じていたんだ。今となっては日本人であるということは自分自身のお気に入りの特徴の一つなんだけど。幼かった頃に抱えていたジャパニーズ・アメリカンとしての混乱は、大きな影響の一つだと思う。もう一つの影響は、日本でもアメリカでも暮らしたことがあるから、視野が広いということ。両サイドを見て経験しているから、その違いを見ながら自分なりの意見や世界観を構築してきた。曲を書く時は子供の頃の思いや経験を書くことも多いから、そういった影響が曲の中に滲み出ていると思うよ。

──では音楽を始めたきっかけを教えて。

Conan : 曲を書き始めたのは12歳の時。当時は引っ越ししまくっていたから、学校ではすごく大人しくて、シャイだった。だから、自分の感情をベッドルームで静かに曲を書くことで外に出し始めたんだ。そのあと自分が作った曲を歌っているビデオをオンラインにアップするようになって、高校でも曲を書いて歌い続けた。やがて“Idol Town”っていう曲をベッドルームで作ってプロデュースして、YouTubeにアップしたら、それがすごい広まっちゃって。レーベルと契約が決まって、LAに引っ越して、大学に通い始めて、ツアーも始まって……。“Idol Town”がきっかけで、すべてが次から次に始まったんだ(笑)。結果、アルバム『Kid Krow』がリリースされるまでになったんだ。

──ベッドルームで音楽を制作し始めたとのことですが、どういうプロセスで楽曲が生まれることが多い? ルーティーンはある?

Conan : 曲の作り方は始めの頃とほとんど変わらない。『Kid Krow』の収録曲の中には友達と書いた曲も何曲かあるけど、ほとんどは未だに一人で書くしね。曲は未だにベッドルームでベッドに座りながら作ってる。大抵はランダムに思いついたメロディからスタートすることが多くて、作る時間も様々。特には午前3時にメロディのアイデアを思いついて作業し始めることもあるし、友達と出かけている時にヒントを得て、帰ってきてからそれを忘れないようにレコーディングする時もある。そうやってスタートしたあとは、ギターを使って曲を作り上げていくんだ。ギターは昔からずっと弾いている楽器だから、僕にとっては扱いやすいんだよね。

──あなたの楽曲は、ポップでカラフルな印象を持ちながらも、どこかダークな印象を持つサウンド。またエレクトロニックから生音まで、多彩な要素を取り込んでいます。サウンド・メイキングに対してのこだわりは?

Conan : プロダクションに関しては、曲それぞれにその曲独特のサウンドを持たせることを意識してる。僕自身リスナーとして本当に沢山の種類の音楽を聴くし、様々なジャンルの音楽が好きだから、自分が作る音楽を一つだけのジャンルに制限したくないんだ。自分の音楽を作る時は、境界線を気にしない。その曲にどんなサウンドが必要かだけを考える。だから、“Maniac”みたいなピュアなラジオ系ポップソングぽい曲もあるかと思えば、“The Story”のような超フォーキーな曲もある。あまり考えすぎずに、自分が作りたいと思うサウンド、その曲に合うと思うサウンドをそのまま形にしているんだ。あとは、その曲を生でパフォーマンスした時に観客が叫んだり踊ったり、その瞬間を存分に楽しめるような曲を作るということも僕にとっては大切なことだね。ベストなショーをやることもすごく重要だよ。

──歌詞に関しては? 恋愛よりも、日常や人生について考えたリアルな言葉を感じますが。

Conan : その通り。僕は全部自分で曲を書くから、自然と自分の人生で何が起こっているかが反映された曲になる。あと、僕はまだ真剣な交際を経験したことがないから、恋愛に関してはまだ書けないんだよね。書いてはみたいけど、今書こうとしたら、「なんで僕のこと好きになってくれないの?めちゃくちゃ悲しい!」っていう曲ばかりになっちゃうから(笑)。自分以外のことだと、テキサスに住んでる親友のことをよく歌詞にするんだ。彼女は僕にとってすごく大きな存在だから、彼女と一緒に過ごした時間や体験したことも多いし、よく歌詞に出てくる。あとは、自分の友達たちへの愛を表現することもあるし、今の21歳という年齢の複雑さに関しても歌ってる。何かや誰かをすごく大好きになったり、大嫌いになったり、ただただハグして欲しくなったり、酔っぱらいたくなったり、自分でも混乱しちゃうんだよね(笑)。そのフィーリングはよく歌詞にする。僕ってすごくタフなシチュエーションで子供時代を過ごしたし、周りでめまぐるしく色々起こっていったから、平穏で落ち着いた環境っていうのをあまり人生で経験していないんだけど、それについて書くのって好きなんだよね。辛い過去について書こうとしない、語りたくない人の方が多いと思うんだけど、僕の場合は大変なことを乗り越えたからこそ色々なことがベターになっていっていると思うから、それを表現したいんだ。

──自らを「ガーリー・ボーイ」と言うなど、男性や女性というジェンダーの垣根を超えた表現や表情を感じますが。そこは音楽を制作するうえで、大切にしている部分?

Conan : 今の時代、より多くの人々がこれまでの伝統的な男女の区切りというものがそこまで重要なことでないということを理解し始めている。みんなが自分が表現したいことを自由に表現できる時代になってきたということは、すごく素晴らしいことだと思うし、僕自身、あまり性別を意識したり、性別で何かをわけて考えたりはしないんだ。僕は僕自身であって、それで十分。男だからこうでないと、女だからこうでないととやっぱり考えてしまう人もいるけど、自分が自分であればそれでいいんだよ。何がスタンダードなんて決まっていない。自分自身であることが大事だとみんなが理解できるようになるために、お互いヘルプし合えたらいいなって思うんだ。

──サッド・ポップ・プリンスと評されたりしているけれど、自分でもそう思う?

Conan : 僕の音楽はサウンドだけ聴くと超楽しい感じがするんだけど、もっとよく聴くとすっごく悲しかったりするからね(笑)。それって僕自身がそうなんだ(笑)今回のアルバム名を『Kid Krow』にしたのも、親友が僕のことをカラスみたいって言ったからなんだ。僕ってカラスみたいにダークな感じもするけど、ちょっとおどけてたりもする。皮肉っぽい時もあるけど面白おかしくもあるのが僕なんだ。僕は全てを笑うようにしてる。ダークな物事、とことんダークにはしないんだよ。人間って暗い出来事があるとそれをすごく真剣に受け止めすぎてしまって超暗くなってしまいがちだけど、僕はそれを楽しいポップソングにして人を笑わせる。ダークなことを笑うのって楽しいし、逆にそれに向き合えると思うんだ。僕はこれまでの人生で色々乗り越えてきたから、子供時代は明るいとは言えなかった。だから大人になってからの人生は、とにかく楽しみたいんだ。自分自身が笑いたいともいうのはもちろんだし、人々のことも笑わせたい。だから、人生のありのままのことを表現しつつも、楽しい曲を書きたいんだよ。僕のアルバムは、100%僕自身について。「僕のアルバムを最初から最後まで全部聴いたら、最後の曲を聴く頃までには君は僕のベストフレンドになってるよ」ってよく言うんだ。このアルバムを聴けば、僕の秘密を全部知ることになるからね。それが僕が今回のアルバムに込めたかったことなんだ。アルバムのテーマは、これまでの僕のライフストーリーと21歳の今の僕が考えていることの両方。親友たちのこととか、失恋のこととか、混乱する気持ちとか、僕がそのまま反映されているんだ。

──このアルバムを通じて感じて欲しいこと、メッセージはある?

Conan : このアルバムが、聴いている人の孤独感を少しでも和らげてくれたらいいなと思う。僕は人生でずっと様々なことに対して”こんなの僕だけ”と思ってきた。同じことを感じている人たちが沢山いると思うんだけど、このアルバムを聴いて、僕の経験を知って、「自分だけじゃないんだ」とか、「これってクレイジーじゃない。自然なことなんだ」とか感じてほしい。歌詞に繋がりを感じてもらえたらすごく嬉しいね。

──ミュージック・ビデオなどのヴィジュアルも印象的です。"Crush Culture"のハートのバルーンなど、とても「色」を大切にしている気がしたけどどうですか?

Conan : 曲を書いている時に、自然とその曲のカラーが見えてくるんだよね。曲を書いたら、考えなくても自動的にその曲の色が見える。だから“Crush Culture”を書いた時も、赤、白、ピンク、時々オレンジ、みたいなのが自分でも理由はわからないけど既に頭にあったんだ(笑)。“Maniac”を書いた時は、すぐに「この曲は紫だ!」と思った。これも何故かは説明できないけど、僕の中では「パープル・ソング」なんだよね。ビデオを作る時は、その色を大切にする。だから僕のビデオやヴィジュアルはカラフルなんだ。しかも、その色というのは自分の頭の中で自然に決まっているんだよ。

──ファッションでこだわっているポイントは?

Conan : 僕のファッションは昔の時代に影響を受けていると思う。テキサスで育ったから、歳を取った人たちが周りに沢山いたんだ。ジョージタウンという街に住んでいたんだけど、その街は定年退職した人たちが集まるコミュニティの街として知られている。その世代のファッションと自分と同じ世代の若者達のファッションの両方を間近で見てきたから、それが混ざったファッションが僕の主なファッションかなと思う。

──日本のリスナーにメッセージを。

Conan : 僕のこと、僕の音楽を気にかけてくれて本当にありがとう! 日本は僕のホームだから、ホームのみんなが僕のことをサポートしてくれているというのは本当に嬉しいことだよ。皆の前でパフォーマンスするのが待ちきれない。みんなでお好み焼きを食べれたらいいな(笑)。



text Takahisa Matsunaga


ーーSo, this is your interview with Japan - you’re partially Japanese, right?

Conan : I’m half Japanese. My mother is from Hiroshima. I was in Hiroshima for 2 and a half years when I was younger and my dad was in the military, so we spent some time there as well.

ーーDo you speak Japanese?

Conan : Japanese is my first language actually, but I don’t remember that much of it anymore. I mostly just remember a lot of food like shake-musubi, onigiri, and “caree pan (curry bread)”,,, yeah, a lot of food that I remember from when I was younger.

ーーWhat’s your impression about Japan, what do you like about it?

Conan : My favorite part about Japan is just the people. Every time I visit as a kid, I just remember feeling so weird as an American because everyone there is just so nice and so polite and so hardworking. I also love everything about the culture; so familiar to me, yet so fascinating… I really do love Japan so much and I consider it as a big piece of my childhood. Last time I went was when I was in high school, I was a sophomore in high school, and I visited all of my family. I have family in Sakugi and visited Tokyo, and Hiroshima, of course, and I used to visit a lot and I can’t wait to come back. Hopefully play some shows there as soon as I can because it has been a while and been too long since I stayed in Japan.

ーーWhat’re the Japanese foods you like?

Conan : Okonomiyaki! Oh my god, it’s my favorite!! I love okonomiyaki! I’ve never had Osaka okonomiyaki. I’ve had Hiroshima Okonomiyaki. And I really wanna go to 7/11 and get “Budo Zeri (grape jello)”. Japan 7/11 is the best!

ーーDo you think that there are some Japanese roots or influences in your music?

Conan : I think a lot of the music that I write is about my childhood and being Japanese American growing up in Texas, it was really hard for me to relate to my peers. I had Japanese, and I was American, and I didn’t really know how to fit in. So, I thought like such an outsider my whole life and I think as I get older, I realized all the things about me that made me different. Being Japanese and being American, all those things were actually what I Iove the most about myself. But it took me a long time to figure that out and feeling lonely is the thing I write about all the time. It was something that I had to learn to love about myself. I love that I’m Japanese; it’s one of my favorite things about myself. But when I was younger, it was so confusing. Trying to understand what it is to be Japanese American. I also think you know… as someone who grew up in Japan and in America, seeing both sides of the world and seeing how different the cultures can be and how different humans can be really influenced the way that I have my perspective of the world. I write a lot about my childhood in my music so I think you can hear that (7:20) from growing up in Japan and also kind of growing up all across the world.

ーーThat sounds very confusing, isn’t it?

Conan : Yeah, it is confusing. I think everyone, no matter what race or how you grew up, it’s confusing enough to figure out who you are and where you fit in the world. Eventually, I just realized I don’t need to fit in. I can just be exactly who I am, which is I’m Japanese and I’m American.

ーーWhat sparked your interest in music?

Conan : I started writing songs when I was 12 years old and I grew up in Texas. I was just a normal kid and I moved around a lot as a kid, so I was really quiet and very shy. And I started writing songs as a way for me to process my emotions really privately in my room. I put videos of me singing the songs up online and by the time when I was 18, I was a senior in high school, a song that I written by myself called “Idle Town” that I made in my bedroom and produced on my laptop, I put it up on YouTube and it went viral. It got me signs and I moved to LA for going to college and started touring and everything kind of happening. I put out my EP “Sunset Season” and now I’m on my debut album “Kid Krow.”

ーーWe heard that you started making music in your bedroom, but do you have certain process you take or routine when brainstorming or creating new music?

Conan : It is exactly the same as when I was 12 years old. All the songs of the album “Kid Krow” coming out soon are all written by me minus the couple songs that I wrote with some of my friends. I still write all of them in my bedroom the same way that I used to write them just being in bed. I usually start with a random melody that comes to me at a very random time. So, sometimes it’ll be 3 in the morning. I just wake up in the middle of the night and I have this line that’s ringing in my head, or sometimes I’ll be just out with my friends and just it comes to me and I record it into my phone to try to remember it. And then from there, I usually finish writing a song on guitar because guitar is the instrument that I’ve been playing since I was little.

ーーFrom pop beats, to rather dark tones, we feel like your music has a variety of impressions. Do you have anything in particular when you’re creating your projects?

Conan : I think for me when it comes to the production, I really try to make each song have their own sound and I kind of make the song sound the way that each song needs to be. I listen to so many different genres of music. I don’t just listen to just pop music, just indie, just grungy. I listen to so many different kind of music, so when I make my own music, I don’t really like to think in bound, I like to think like “oh what does this one song really need?” and so that’s why I have a song like “Maniac” that just a pure radio pop song, and then there is a song like “The Story” which is definitely like a folk singer-songwriter song. But I like to do whatever I think is right and I try not to think too much in boxes. And also, I tour so much these days, I’ve played so many chords. I’m going on tour all across the world in the next year, hopefully going to Japan, so… I really like to think when I’m writing a song, how will that sound in real life and how will translate at a show, what little moment will people love the most, what lyrics that make them want to scream in the crowd and have a good time, and what’s gonna hit the best during the live show is really important for me. Which artist inspired you the most? We heard that Lorde was one of them.Oh my gosh! I love Lorde. Lorde is just one of my absolute favorites. She absolutely is one of the people who I think we can definitely thank for ever getting people into songwriting. I think she was the first person that I heard pop music and really started to see how beautiful the pop music was. Also, one of my absolute favorites and I think one of the people who really nurtured me as a songwriter is Taylor Swift. She is one of the best pop songwriters of all time. The first YouTube video I ever watched was “Tear Drops on My Guitar,” it’s the music video. I love Taylor Swift. Also, I loved a lot of country music and a lot of different Texan music obviously growing up in Texas. It’s a gift from a lot of stuffs but I love Taylor and I love Lorde.I haven’t met either of them. I talk about them constantly and I’m sure they think I’m crazy, but I love them so much.

ーーHow about lyrics? We interpreted them to be more focused on ordinary days in life rather than crazy love and relationships.

Conan : I tend to write all of my own songs, so because of that, I write about just whatever is going on in my life and I’ve never dated anyone before, so I can’t really write that many love songs. I really like to write love songs, but all of my love songs are like “oh you don’t love me back? I’m so heart-broken.” Because I’ve never dated anyone, so I always feel like I only write songs about a couple people in my life. I write a lot of songs about my best friend back home in Texas, she means so much to me, so a lot of songs are about her and I hanging out. The songs about wishing that I could hang out with her and about how much I love my friend. Also, I write a lot about what it is like to be 20 years old and really have no idea what is going on in life and I think that all of your adolescence, you're very very confused. You’re like all of these emotions, you’re in love, you also hate everyone, and you just wanna hug, and you wanna get drunk, and you wanna be all of these things; it’s just a big mess in your head. So, I write about that a lot as well as what will like to be a kid, growing up in a pretty tough situation, I didn’t really have very stable family life growing up so, I like to write about that because I also think not a lot of people talk about it and it’s something important to let people know that in time where life is getting tough or they feel like they don’t have a family and they don’t think they have the support system, life can always get better because it got better for me and will get better for you.

ーーFrom using the term “girly boy”, what are your stances on gender-based stereotypes and whatnot? Do you incorporate gender themes in your music?

Conan : I think we live in an era now where people more and more are learning that traditional gender roles don’t have to matter anymore because a lot of people fought for us to be able to express ourselves freely which is really incredible. For me, I don’t really think too much about gender these days. I kind of think like “oh well, I am exactly myself” and gender role are constantly being fought by so many people, and so special and so important. I think it is very important, especially, I think for men, they have certain standards of how we should act, and girls as well have very specific standards of how they should act. I think anything that anyone can do to help people to be able to be themselves completely is really important.

ーーPeople call you the “sad pop prince”, what do you think? What does the crow in your artwork represents?

Conan : I think that my music tends to sound very fun, but when you actually listen to the lyrics, they’re pretty depressing. It is very much me as a person. I named my album “Kid Krow” because my best friend always says I’m a crow because I tend to be dark, but I also don’t take myself too seriously. I think that in the lyrics, you can kind of hear, you know. I’m pretty sarcastic and pretty funny, even when it’s dark I try not to make it too dark and I think that people take lives so, so seriously all the time, so in a fun pop song, I’ve tried to make people laugh a little about things that might be little hard to deal with. I think it’s fun to laugh about it and my lyrics definitely can get dark at times.

So, basically the album title came from my best friend, she’d always explain that if I were an animal, I’d be a crow because I was the friend that flew away from the nest, and I’m also pretty dark and pretty cynical, but at the same time, I just kind of laugh at everything. I don’t take life too seriously; I think it’s pretty funny. I’ve been through a lot in life and my whole childhood was pretty painful, so in adulthood, I just wanna have fun. I just wanna laugh and I just wanna make people laugh. Write fun songs to people to scream in the car, but also songs to cry in your bed about. And it represented me well, and my debut album is just a 100% me and my whole entire life story. I keep telling people like “if you listen to my album from the top to the bottom, by the time you get to the last song, you’re basically my best friend because you know all of my secrets.” So, that’s what I wanted to put out there. I think the album talks a lot about my life story, but also exactly how I am right now which is I’m 21 years old, I have no idea what’s going on, people suddenly started to listen to my music, and I have my three best friend, I’ve never dated anyone but I’ve been heart-broken a million times. It’s just kind of me as an album.It was me and it was my best friend, Ashley back home in Texas. We came up with it together. I also write a lot of songs about her so I was like “you should probably help me naming the album.”

ーー What was the most exciting song write?

There is a song of the album that will come out once the album is out. The song called “Wish You Were Sober”, it’s the song that I keep listening even though it’s not out yet because it is just so much fun to listen to. The lyrics are so snappy, and I wrote about this person who would never tell me that they like me unless they were drunk and I was like “ I’m so happy that you like me but also you’re drunk, like please I wish you were sober.” It is definitely the kind of song that you want to scream in the car, like dancing in your room too. And there is another song on the album called “Heather” which is just the perfect song to cry to that I always listen to. I just love it so much, It’s a very, very heart-breaking song.

ーーWhat was the most exciting event that have occurred during the production?

Conan : The process was tough. It’s so weird. For so long, I made music, and no one ever listened to it, so it was so simple. I wrote a song and I liked it and put it up and now that there is so many eyes on me. I was definitely scared and I’m still very scared for the album to come out. I’m very excited, but I would be lying if I told you that I’m not scared. It’s gonna be interesting to have the album out because I say so much on the album that I’ve never told anyone before. It’s gonna be a scary moment but I’m so excited. But yeah, the process of making the album definitely drove me to insanity. There were a lot of times when my friends were calling me be like “Conan, are you okay?” and I’m like “I’m fine, I’m fine, It’s okay. I haven’t slept in a week but I’m okay now.” I’ve tried my best on my album and it’s my baby, so I had to get it right. I had to say exactly what I needed to say even if it drove me a little crazy at times.

I really hope that when people listen to the album, it makes them feel less alone. I spent so much of my life feeling like all of these emotions and all those things and I felt like I was the only person who felt those things. I thought I was the only person who felt that lonely, and only person who felt that heart-broken, or the only person who felt that happy about something. I hope that when people listen to the album, they hear me then think “oh, I felt that before” or “oh, I’m not crazy for feeling that way.” That is what I really hope people can find a little bit of relatable ____ (26:37) in the lyrics.

ーーAlso, your music videos are very eye-catching. We got the feeling from heart-shaped balloons in “Crush Culture” that you value the “colors” used in your videos but do you?

Conan : I have this thing called synesthesia where when I write a song, it always has a certain set of colors in a song that my brain just automatically does. It’s not something I have to think about. It is just like I write a song and I just know like that song is that color. So, when I wrote “Crush Culture,” I just knew that the song was like red, white, and pink colored, but just like random orange… I don’t really know why. And when I wrote “Maniac,” I just knew immediately that song is purple. It is a purple song; I can’t explain why. So, when it comes to making the music video, I’m pretty conscious about what colors were in the video because I just know that every song has its own color. I think that everyone’s brain kind of does that to certain things, but with music it is very colorful, and I know exactly what colors are going with each song.

ーーYou live in San Diego now? How is the city? Does it have any effect on your music production?

Conan : I live in Los Angeles now, I moved here 2 years ago from Texas.I think that I’m more inspired by living in the new area, because it is all so unfamiliar. So, I think you can hear it in the new album.

ーーDo you have anything particular regarding your fashion?

Conan : I think my fashion is inspired by older decades because I grew up in a town with a lot of old people, it’s the town called George Town and it's mostly known for having a really really big retirement community. I grew up around a lot of old people and I think that seeing all the generations and their tastes in clothes ended up affecting me. So, I feel like I wear clothes from older generations.

ーーDo you have any interests other than music?

Conan : When I was younger, I really wanted to be a biology teacher. So, I was really into science and biology in high school. Just a really big nerd. I don’t think anyone in high school would’ve thought I would’ve become a singer because I really love science. So that’s kind of one of my favorite things other than music.

ーーPlease give a little message to Japanese fans.

Conan : To everyone out there in Japan who’s listening to my music, thank you guys so much. I love you guys so much for caring and for being my home country and supporting me means so much to me and I can’t wait to play a show for you guys there so soon and eat okonomiyaki with you guys.



text Takahisa Matsunaga

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