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article imageConner Cherland talks 'Toad Boy,' Randy Newman and digital age Special

By Markos Papadatos     Sep 6, 2019 in Music
Singer-songwriter Conner Cherland chatted with Digital Journal about his new single "Toad Boy" and about being an artist in this digital age.
"I created 'Toad Boy' as a silly writing exercise," he said. "One of my favorite lines by Shakey Graves says 'old snake lady stole my savings' and since I wanted to have characters like that in my songs I decided to change Snake Lady into 'Toad Boy' I started singing about him and the phrase 'walrus skin' came out randomly, so I formed a story about a boy toad who learns to be himself after growing up around a bunch of walruses."
On his music inspirations, he said, "Good music, strong emotions, and phrases that feel way too true. Hozier has a line in 'Foreigner's God' that goes 'All I do is crave to her.' I think it's one of the most clear and visceral lines I've heard in my life. I often bring paper and a pen with me so I can write down ideas that pass through my mind, or to copy down particularly beautiful lines of songs and dialogue.
Regarding his future plans, he said, "I'm looking forward to interesting audiences hearing my original tunes, frequent collaborations and making enough money to live. More humbly stated, it looks like me playing a lot more wedding gigs so that I have spare money to do the type of art that pays less. I'd also love to find a partner to help out with this business. It's a lot of work and my plans for starting a podcast, video series and new albums will be a lot to tackle in the coming months."
For Cherland, the digital age is "challenging for sure." "I listen to a lot of Gary Vaynerchuck who talks about the importance of ignoring the likes and followers and staying focused on the work at hand. I fail at this constantly, chasing money and vanity instead of spending time experimenting with my words and sounds. It can feel like I'm not getting anywhere because I'm constantly comparing myself to everyone, but I have a great life and I wouldn't trade it," he said.
On the impact of technology and streaming on the music business, he said, "It's incredibly easy to create and share music these days. I don't need to play an instrument to be a musician (which blows my mind). I could sing into a microphone, download samples into my DAW, upload to Spotify and start getting booked at shows. Granted, I play guitar so I'm sort of old school."
"I think it's amazing and important that kids everywhere get to create the art they want to see in the world and the fact that there's more noise is a bit annoying but totally worth it," he said.
For young and aspiring singer-songwriters, he said, "Write a lot of songs alone and with others. There's really nothing to it but to do it. I locked myself in my bathroom for six months every day after work and wrote 35 songs which sparked my entire career."
"Copy the chord structure from your favorite songs and write new lyrics and melodies, copy the subject matter and write a song about it in a different genre. Tracing is how kids learn to draw and it's a great way to learn to write your own songs. Once you write a song, play it in front of people at an open mic. You'll learn a lot from your own emotions and the reactions from the people around you," he explained.
He listed Randy Newman as his dream collaboration choice. "I would love to sit next to Randy Newman at a piano. I think he's incredible at weaving a story, breaking the form and arranging comedy and tragedy into beautiful pieces of music," he said.
For fans and listeners, he concluded about "Toad Boy," "This is a song about breaking from tradition and trying something new. At the end, the narrator says 'I heard [Toad Boy]'s getting by.' For all the times you feel like quitting and returning to your cozy old life, I hope you remember this little toad boy and how he's getting by, even when people can't see past the walrus skin."
To learn more about Conner Cherland, check out his official website.
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