The pop star on the rise recently released his first self-recorded EP “Sunset Season.”

Conan Gray’s music is akin to a well-loved coming-of-age movie packaged as a pop song. It’s familiar and contemporary, yet strikes a nostalgic chord targeted at Gen Z. Considered “bedroom pop,” Gray’s self-recorded EP Sunset Season came together in his Georgetown, Texas home. “We live in this really interesting generation now where people can make fantastic music out of their bedroom; it’s really pushing artists to be genuine in what they make and to be extremely creative,” explains Gray. Worth noting, this was before he even graduated high school. The now-20-year-old credits the power of the Internet and social media for allowing his voice to be heard. “I don’t think that I would have any of the success that I have now if it wasn’t for the Internet. I was also a really quiet kid. Nobody at school knew that I sang or wrote music,” says Gray. He continues to describe the writing process as a cathartic release, one that allows him to understand his true feelings. Citing Adele, who he discovered at age 12, as a key influence, he says, “I realized that music and especially pop music could really be beautiful and make you feel. It was also the first time that I realized you could write your own songs.”

Gray’s first single, “Idle Town,” was a love letter to his hometown. As he explains, it came to him at a very pivotal moment—the point he needed to grow up. “I was about to graduate high school and I just got kicked out of my house. It felt very much like my last goodbye,” he recalls. Following the attention the song’s release sparked and the subsequent record-deal signing, Gray released Sunset Season. The five-song EP effectively soundtracks his high school experience, encapsulating the feeling of growing up in a small town. Next up is Gray’s first album, which will explore the next era, straddling the cusp of adulthood while in college. It’s a particularly personal moment as Gray is enrolled at UCLA. “The sound is definitely darker,” he explains. “I talk about a lot of things that I wouldn’t have said on the EP. I am not afraid to say a lot of the things I was afraid to say in high school. I think this phase of life is a unifying one.”

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