19-year-old Conor Maynard could probably be James Bond if his face wasn't already so well known in the UK. Engaging in high speed Aston Martin chases with dangerous rivals (Louis from One Direction), sampling exotic delicacies (strawberry Oreos) with foreign dilettantes (rapper/producer Pharrell Williams) and studying up on the art of ancient Chinese warfare are all in a day's work for the young Brit popper. Somewhere in there he also find time to sing.
Contours, Conor's Pharrell-produced debut, is due out later this summer, so we decided to catch him before he pulls off that rubber face mask and grappling hooks away from the growing horde of global pursuers known as Mayniacs (seriously). We called up Conor on the telephone (or, as the British say, "telephone") while he was finishing up a trip to New York City for a video shoot to chat about his international life of intrigue.
[Note to readers: It's very important that you recite these responses aloud in a charming British accent, or else imagine James Bond narrating them in your head]
How's NY, Conor? Tweeter says you've been busking.
Yeah definitely, that was really fun! We went to 3 different locations—to Union Square, the Union Square subway station and Washington Square. It was actually crazy. We kind of got a little crowd and people even started throwing money on the floor in front of me! That was pretty funny.
Did anyone recognize you?
I'm not sure if anyone knew me while I was busking, but I've been walking along Manhattan and a few people stopped me to take photos and say hi.
Tell me about this army of Mayniacs you have in the UK.
They definitely fit the name (laughs) they've done some crazy stuff. I was in Liverpool on a radio tour, and the Mayniacs caught word, so they broke into the carpark of the building and waited for me to come outside. They got kicked out by security in the end, but they waited for us to leave and then chased the car back to the hotel! And I guess they waited at the hotel all night because I got up the next morning and some were still there! It's flattering to see how many people like my music. But that was a little insane.
Cray. Do they ever leave you any free time?
Sometimes. I actually went to see the new Avengers film in New York the other day. That was really cool. The Hulk is my favorite—he was insane in that film!
If you were asked to join The Avengers, what would your ideal super power be?
Ooh, well…um…I dunno, really…I think it'd be great to stop time. So like, it's 7 o'clock in the morning, then you stop time to go to sleep for another eight hours before get up. Yes. That's what I'd do.
What would you say your geekiest habit is?
Well I love to play these kind of geeky Chinese warrior games on my Playstation and stuff. Dynasty Warriors is one of my favorite games of all time, and it's quite geeky. It's about ancient China and the battles (laughs) of fictional warriors. I'm always checking out when the next one is coming out and stuff. I'm not even really that into the history, but I used to sit there and read the biography of each character, even though they were fictional (laughs). I just loved it.
Does it bother you when people compare you to Justin Bieber?
I don't know, really. It's flattering to be compared to such a massive name in the music industry while I'm still kind of early in my career. But I think the comparison really only goes so far as the fact that we're both young, we both started on YouTube, and other than that there isn't much. Our music is a different sound. So for me it's not a negative comparison, I'm just waiting for the day when people see me as my own artist.
Do you know the dudes from One Direction?
I met one of them! I believe it was Louis. We both had a day where we were off and we both met at this…it was like an Aston Martin testing ground. It was crazy!
Random. Is that something you've always wanted to do?
No! It was just kind of a random day I had off that I got invited to. I've never really been into cars, even (laughs). But I went to go drive Aston Martins one day and I didn't know Louis was going to be there. I'd never met him so we kind of chilled, and then we got to drive Aston Martins around the track. At the end we tried to have a race, and Louis ends up almost crashing. So that was pretty insane.
Any other random experiences you'd care to share?
I had my first experience with strawberry Oreos when I was with Pharrell.
…what? I didn't even know that was a thing.
(laughs) No, exactly, neither did I!
Are they good?
All I'm gonna say is you have to try one. Hang up the phone right now and go buy some straight away.
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