ASBO Meets: Conor Byrne

Photo Credit: Bjorn franklin

Hailing from Kerry in the Southwest of Ireland, Singer-Songwriter Conor Byrne has been building his name over the past year as a passionate and dedicated new artist on the Irish scene. Making himself known through not only his various captivating pop anthems but also his high-quality collaborations with dance acts. Conor has already gained an impressive 76 million streams to date across his catalogue, working with some incredible artists and producers such as Gamper & Dadoni and Edd Holloway (Lewis Capaldi, Dean Lewis). He has now revealed his latest track, entitled ‘Growing Pains’ a soulful ballad that is sure to tug at your heartstrings. ASBO met with Conor to discuss this latest single, his musical journey and future plans.

So you’re from Kerry in Ireland, what was it like growing up there and is there much of a music scene?

Yeah, there is a music scene. Pub gigs are a big thing around here. When I was younger, that’s how I started, I was just doing pub gigs around town, playing covers and sometimes sneaking in an original in the set. The music scene here is growing slowly, but it is still based around pub gigs. It’s a small town as well, so everyone comes down and supports which is nice.

What are some of your first memories relating to finding an interest in listening to and making music?

My Dad plays the guitar, my Mum was big into music and theatre when I was growing up. We have a very musical family. Our parents would take me and my sister to concerts all the time, way before we were old enough to be going to them. I’d always fall asleep during them. I picked up the guitar from my Dad, he taught me how to play and then I just slowly got into playing all the time. I was mostly doing covers and messing around on GarageBand. The covers I was doing on YouTube is how most people in my town ended up hearing me.

What inspires you as an artist? Both musically and non musically?

Non-Musically I love cinema. I’ll see a film in the cinema, then get that passion to create after seeing something amazing. The biggest thing for me now musically is when I meet with another artist and their work ethic and passion is infectious, that really inspires me. I also try to listen to music that is outside of my world to get inspired. I listen to a lot of Rock, Jazz, and classical. Jazz is my big thing at the moment.

Your latest track, ‘Growing Pains’ is extremely heartfelt, when making tracks where emotions are at the forefront, where do you draw the ideas from? Is it pulled from personal experience or more abstract?

It comes from personal experience. Every song I release comes from an experience I have either gone through, or someone I know has. I always try to put myself in my music. Growing Pains was written about a real relationship I had. I opened up to everyone in the studio about the problems I was having. That made the creation of the track so much easier because everyone in the room understood where I was coming from. It’s a lot harder to write music when not pulling from personal experiences, it’s always easier when I can relate personally. When I do write more abstractly I make sure it’s still authentic, authenticity is important in music.

What has been the most challenging thing about being an artist in today’s climate, and what has been the most rewarding?

Music isn’t the only thing you need to focus on and be good at anymore. Between Tik Tok, Instagram and live streams, you need to be consistently creating and evolving content. It’s probably the aspect I’m the worst at. I find it hard to dedicate that much time to creating content for people to react to. There’s a very fine line between being a social influencer and being an artist at the moment, it’s the most challenging thing for me because you need to be good at the social media side of music to build a fanbase.

The most rewarding aspect is how easy it is to create and share your music. You can distribute it across the world, you can get music out there so fast. Before the pandemic, I was in London in the studio all the time. When the lockdowns happened my management got me on Zoom with loads of producers. We wrote that way, and have done so many songs now in the last year over zoom.

So, I read that you wrote 200 tracks during lockdown, how did you manage to pull that off? 

Me and my management, we were all so used to being in the studio all the time. We felt like we couldn’t just stop and pause for a year. So we started regular Zoom sessions, at the start I was really hungry and in writing mode. I would do five or six songs a week. I know some people used the time to relax and switch off, but I felt like I might end up switching off too much.  I just wanted to keep busy, I treated it like a full-time job, writing every day. I definitely crashed creatively and burned out a few times, it was a lot of writing but it was so good to keep busy.

I noticed you have collaborated with various electronic producers on tracks such as GAMPER & DADONI’s  ‘Island in the Sun’ When you feature on these more electronic focused tracks do you have a different creative process? 

Yeah, it’s definitely different. I like to get out of my world and write for different genres. Melodies and repetition are at the forefront of dance, you need something really easy to remember with dense melodies. When writing dance music lyrics, you aren’t trying to write personal, deep stuff. It’s more anthemic lyrics that everyone can relate to.  It’s a different writing mindset but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. You still want a good song, you just have to write the lyrics in a way that fits the genre.

You recently signed your first major record deal with Sony Music/RCA Germany… How did that come about and what has that experience been like for you? 

Yeah, it was weird because it happened in the early stage of the pandemic when everything was at its worst and there wasn’t much to look forward to.  We had been talking to different labels for about a year, trying to get the right fit and find which team was the most passionate and shared my vision. We found the team at Sony Germany, we talked for months then It just happened to come to fruition. It felt so surreal signing a deal over Zoom during a pandemic, we had a glass of champagne over Zoom at like 10 in the morning. Resources wise a label gives you more freedom to try things you couldn’t when independent due to money constraints. We would have never been able to create the amazing music video for Growing Pains without the label support.

If you could give any piece of advice to an up and coming musician what would you say?

There’s no right or wrong way to do music, but I would say keep working at your craft and network as much as you can. Networking is massive, you would be surprised how many writers or producers you could message on socials and start networking with. When I first started working on dance tracks, I would message the artist’s manager, explain who I am, what I do and that I’d love to provide vocals on some of their artist’s tracks.

Sometimes I would get a reply, sometimes I wouldn’t but it’s always worth asking and putting yourself out there. Networking, building relationships with producers, people in the industry is a massive way to get a foot in towards getting a publishing or record deal. Focus on finding your own sound because that will help, once you have your sound you will be more authentic and people will engage with your music more.

What is your biggest goal for your music career?

I mean, playing to huge audiences and making loads of records should be on every artist’s mind. But at the moment I’d love to build a true and honest fan base that can come to gigs, share and relate to my music. A Grammy down the line would also be cool.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year and the start of 2022? 

Well, right now things are slowly starting to open up. The first thing I’m looking forward to is live shows coming back. I’m super excited because I feel like I haven’t been on stage in ages. I’m going on a tour with another Irish artist in late September which should be great, I can’t wait to do all of those shows. We also have so much new music coming out and ready to release, the album is definitely happening but I’m not sure exactly when because covid has pushed everything back.

Words: David Pratt