V127: The Thought Leaders Issue With Conan Gray

The musician on finding his political voice, climate change, and spreading much-need comfort through music.

V127’s Thought Leaders Issue is available for pre-order now.

“I grew up in the South, in a very conservative world. My friends and I were all raised to be good Texans. Whatever that meant, it wasn’t what we wanted to be, or what we wanted America to be. With the help of the Internet, [I realized] that conservative values only [represent] a specific group of people and not the world [at large], in the slightest. Texas, like all of America, was built upon systemic racial inequality. That is a fact. Police brutality has [existed] in America forever. Once I realized how different my experience was from [that of so many] Americans, I wanted to stand up with those who have suffered at the hands of racial injustice. That’s something [our] generation must do if we would like to see actual change in this country.

“Aside from that, I think climate change is extremely urgent right now. If we want a future to live in at all, we need to make sure we are voting [with the environment in mind]. I totally agree that it’s hard to stay hopeful at times. America is not what I want it to be right now. When it comes to my [music], I’ve written a lot about how it feels [to imagine] the future right now. I think everyone can agree that it feels so uncertain at times, and that can definitely be so scary. But what I love about music is that it has always represented the people—it has the power to give us hope and make us feel heard and seen. It’s a very stressful time and to be able to find comfort in music is something that I am doing, and have always done throughout my life. I hope that what I’m saying in the music can provide a little bit of comfort to people and [let them] know that they’re not alone in this time.

“The future is very much in our hands. I urge everybody, all of the youth across America—but especially in my home state—to use their privilege of being able to vote. Texas very much lies right in the in-between, which includes the youth and young people. It’s just an ever-changing place, and it’s important that it also looks that way politically. By voting, by standing up with the people who have suffered from the hands of racial injustice, we can [center] civility and love. That needs to be done as soon as possible in this country, with this generation. We actually have the power to do it this time.”


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