Up next: The mysterious Conner Youngblood

Conner Youngblood is really rather fascinating. The Dallas-born, Nashville-based musician is only 24 years old, and yet he has already become at least somewhat practiced in some-odd 30 or 40 different instruments, has performed at SXSW three times, and has succeeded in crafting a sophisticated sound reminiscent of—but distinct from—indie greats Bon Iver and James Blake. What’s more fascinating: somehow, the unsigned Youngblood has managed to remain relatively unknown.

And yet that it is exactly why he is so interesting. Conner Youngblood is a mystery. A one-man-show inspired by the falsettos and atmospheric sound qualities of his idols, the wispy folk of Ray LaMontagne and the breezy beats of Gorillaz, he self-produces an obscure, understated sound matched only in ambiguity by his vague online persona. But as an artist with a knack for masterfully layering electronic synths and acoustic instrumentals with gorgeous, transcendent vocals, Youngblood proves he has talent—and a creative vision—worth talking about.

Youngblood’s story isn’t exactly typical. In fact, he didn’t even know he could sing until a few years ago. “I thought, hey, that doesn’t sound half bad,” Youngblood said of the first time he recorded himself singing. Having practiced guitar since his youth, he spent his college days experimenting with different instruments and schooling himself in music history. “I’m just now finally getting caught up,” he said. “Now I’m trying to find as much new stuff to listen to as I can.” Don’t misunderstand, though: despite being inspired by various artists and genres, Youngblood’s sound carves a niche in modern music all its own.

In 2012, after graduating from Yale with a degree in American Studies, the artist decided to pursue a career in music. With a keyboard, a drum pad, two microphones and a host of more than 30 instruments he gradually learned to play on a whim, he began writing and releasing music for free. One of Youngblood’s earliest songs, “Monsters”—a piece marked by the juxtaposition of electronics and acoustics, of a synth-induced womp and the delicate strumming of a banjo—showcases the early stages of the musician’s multi-faceted, cross-genre style.

Youngblood later self-produced two EPs, Sketches Pt. 1 and Sketches Pt. 2, both of which combine acoustic and electronic elements with his hypnotic vocals. And yet, despite that the musician has gained more notoriety over the past couple years, he has persisted to offer his music free. He has since produced another 4-track EP, Make Me Faster, and several collaborative works with hip-hop artist Skizzy Mars, all of which are available for download via Soundcloud. “The reality of it is that people don’t always want to buy music,” he said. “I just want to make my music heard by as many people as possible.”

Recently, the young artist and producer released “Confidence” and “Mercury,” two gorgeous tracks he plans to include in another EP, scheduled to debut on April 1. He is also currently working on a few more collaborations with Skizzy and electro-R&B artist Nylo while continuing to travel back and forth between his residence in Nashville and studio in Dallas, where he prefers to record all of his music.


Still, despite Youngblood’s fervent song-writing efforts, he admits that he has a lot to work on when it comes to charting his music career, including mastering his on-stage performance. As the nature of his intricate, multi-layered sound presents technical difficulty on stage in front of a live audience, especially when he prefers to perform solo, performing live is a challenge the young musician said he is just beginning to overcome. “I don’t really talk much,” Youngblood said. “I just sort of play. I’m pretty sure there have been shows where I haven’t even introduced myself.”

A young artist struggling with figuring out just what his sound is, and with balancing a sound that pleases but more importantly stays true to his creative expression, Youngblood isn’t certain about the future. Ultimately, his goal is to make a self-sustaining career out of his music while maintaining his individuality and sense of artistic freedom. So he continues to release the music he wants, and continues to offer it free.

With a grassroots, do-it-yourself approach to songwriting and producing, Conner Youngblood represents the epitome of great indie music—down to his hand-drawn album covers. Yes, he remains mysterious. But when marked by raw talent, there’s something so compelling about a good mystery.

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