Conan Gray’s Coachella Debut Is Coming Up Roses
The singer talks about the festival, his new album, and his bestie Olivia Rodrigo.
Conan Gray is in the middle of a historic week. So far, he's announced his new album, Superache, and premiered his new single, "Memories." To cap off his weekend, he’ll perform at Coachella for the first time on Saturday. Yes, the 23-year-old singer is booked, busy, and bringing his A-game.
Gray’s Coachella debut is a long time coming. Initially, he was included in 2020’s lineup-to-never-be where he would have performed his critically acclaimed debut album, Kid Krow. The delay means Gray is now heading to Indio, California as a different person. In the past two years, he’s amassed a viral TikTok track in “Heather,” scored enviable brand sponsorships, released a series of new singles (surely making for a longer set), and announced his sophomore record. More than anything, his recent achievements have established Gray as more than just an impressive musician. He’s an artist with an original vibe.
Still, Gray isn’t closing out his Kid Krow era so soon. Fans can finally get their hands on his latest version of the signature “Your Sweater” merch through his new Coachella collab with American Express’s Artist Shop. The sweatshirt features the iconic phrase from his standout track “Heather” embroidered among a sea of cacti. The exclusive salmon-colored hoodie is available only to Amex card members. It’s for sale at the festival on April 15 and April 22; however, they’re also available online through April 30.
A crewneck sweater, featuring cacti and the embroidered lyrics "your sweater" from Conan Gray's 2020 song "Heather."
Below, Gray chats about actualizing the metaphorical sweater for festival season, his introspective quarantine that led to new music, and a recent impromptu guest appearance at a certain pop star bestie’s Vancouver show.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Elite Daily: So, this Coachella debut has been a long time coming for you. You were initially slated for the lineup in 2020. We know how that went. What does it mean to you to have this moment finally arrive?
Conan Gray: I guess it's pretty surreal to finally have this moment. I can't believe that two years has passed — that my album is going to be coming out and that it's even announced at this point. It's just so bizarre, but it's very exciting and it's just going to be nice to be out there in person again, singing music with people.
ED: Absolutely. A lot has happened in the last two years both in the world and in your career. How do you feel you've grown as an artist in that time?
Conan Gray: I think I spent a very introspective two years just kind of going insane silently in my house. And I feel like the album really represents that and reflects that a lot. You can tell it's an album that I made while I was thinking a lot.
ED: Roses seem to be a new theme for your next era. Your Superache album cover is literally you lying on a heart-shaped bed of roses. How does that symbolism extend into this next period?
Conan Gray: There's definitely a few random lyrical references to roses, but I think that red roses really represent the kind of overly idealistic imagery of being in love. And since I've never been in love, the idea of red roses makes me feel this mixture of bittersweet and kind of sick to my stomach, but I really wish that someone would get me red roses. And so I just kind of wanted to take the symbolism of this very classically romantic thing and make it my own, instead of making it symbolize something else.
ED: So you've never actually been in love, but it's something that you hope to have in the future. How do you write songs that are so longing for love, or about love, without having that personal experience yourself?
Conan Gray: Yeah, I think love has to be defined as a mutual feeling in order for it to really be true love. Since I've loved people but they haven't loved me back, I can't say that I've really been in love. I've loved people, and I've been super heartbroken about them, so that's what the songs are about. And I do think, also, this album is very much about wishing that I was in love and yearning for love, and you can feel that in the music for sure.
ED: Are there any specific influences to this new music or elements of this new era that you're particularly excited about?
Conan Gray: I think it's hard to explain exactly what the music sounds like before people can just listen. But I think that, with Superache, I really wanted to lean into the fact that growing up is a very hilariously dramatic thing, and the music is vulnerable. But it's also sarcastic a lot of the time, and I don't really take my pain too seriously. So it has that kind of a feeling for sure.
ED: You teamed up with American Express for their Artist Shop at Coachella. Why did you want to be involved with this campaign?
Conan Gray: I just thought it would be a really fun opportunity because Coachella is such a special moment of every single year. When I was writing my song, “Heather,” I talked about this sweater, conceptually, that represents being loved by someone, being able to have their sweater and feel like you're there. So I thought it'd be fun to kind of give my sweater to the people of Coachella for the weekend.
ED: I just saw the crew neck. I'm obsessed. I'm going to have to cop.
Conan: Yeah, it turned out great!
ED: Somehow in your schedule, you also managed to perform Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” with Olivia Rodrigo during her Vancouver Sour concert. How did that come about, and how was it sharing the stage with such a good friend of yours?
Conan Gray: It came about super casually. We were FaceTiming the night before, and we were excited that we were going to see each other again. We're like, "Oh my God, it's been months since we've seen each other." And then we were just randomly like, "Oh, maybe we should sing a song.” We hadn't really thought of it until the night before, and then we just kind of threw it together. But it was super special and she's so talented, so it was very fun to witness her talent on stage.
ED: Oh, I love that. And I saw that TikTok you both posted with the “As if you could outrun me!” sound from Twilight. It was hilarious. What made you want to do that specific sound? You just saw it and you were like, "Yep, we're doing it?"
Conan Gray: Yeah. We were just being dumb. There was no real reason why. That's just what you do when you're with your friends.
American Express’s Artist Shop featuring exclusive merch from Conan Gray is open from April 15 through April 30 for Amex card members. Gray’s newest single, “Memories,” is out now, and his sophomore album, “Superache,” debuts on June 24.