Meet rising star Tom Connan! He’s a 21-year-old French singer and songwriter that stepped into the spotlight after he went viral on YouTube with his debut single “You Didn’t Give Them A Chance”. In this short interview, he cleared up our doubts about his music project and shared his upcoming plans. Find out more about this talented artist below.
1 – When exactly did you become a singer? Was your original goal to be an artist?
I started to write songs a few years ago when I was still in high school. Then I met a great producer in London and we recorded several tracks in a studio. I was pretty impressed but I felt I was in the right place. The very first time I came with two or three demos, we chose one together and that was it. I got my first gig in NYC at Webster Hall a few months later, at this time nobody knew me but that was a surprising success. I remember everybody was dancing and clapping their hands. At this particular moment, I knew I wanted to become a pop singer, even if I had to work really hard to achieve that goal. To be honest, I didn’t have any specific goal as an artist. You wake up one day and you have something inside you that wants to write, to sing, to perform. I just followed my intuition.
2 – The music video “You Didn’t Give Them A Chance” has reached more than 100,000 views on YouTube. How has been the reception from the viewers so far?
“You Didn’t Give Them A Chance” was my first official single, we released the track and the music video on December 15 last year and we got something like 10 000 views the very first day which was much more than we had expected. I received support from music journalists, in Europe, and in the US, and we reached 100K views only after ten days. It was awesome! The reception from the viewers was immediately very positive, not only on Youtube but also on Facebook, Instagram where lots of fans started to like and comment. It was so exciting! Just a few days after the release, I also received several business offers from talent agencies, music publishers and so on. I signed the first deal just a few weeks after that. A well-known director also contacted me to make the second music video together.
But you can’t stop bad talk. “You Didn’t Give Them A Chance” video deals with the question of equality in a wide sense, therefore we wanted to denounce all types of discrimination: antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, sexism… We needed to attract global public attention to this burning issue, and even if 95% of the viewers were very supportive, I also received crazy messages and real threats from people saying I was an « Islamist » (because I was wearing a burkini), « gay » (because I was wearing a striped jersey top), and of course « Jew » because I was wearing a kippah. We erased or reported most of those comments of course since it was promoting hatred. But it’s still hard to understand how stupid some people can be. Paradoxically, I thought: given those crazy people really exist, then it was really necessary to make such a video…
3 – Is there a non-governmental organization supporting your music career?
Absolutely not, I work independently, and to be honest, I don’t want to be viewed as a humanitarian singer of something like that. Depending on the song, I try to make people want to sing, dance, think, engage… I don’t have any particular goal, you know. Music is bigger than us. When you write a song or start a recording session, you never know where it will lead you. Sometimes you say to yourself: « I want to do this » and the result is totally different from what you expected. And it’s ok, that’s how art works as far as I know…
4 – Are you only focused on making songs about equality? What other subjects would you like to explore in your next songs?
Not at all. Obviously, equality is a top issue and it remains probably the most important subject nowadays. That’s why the « equal » sign is one of the two symbols I constantly use. But we need to talk about liberty also. Free speech for instance. But as I was saying, music can be just entertainment. Ideally, we want to do both. That’s why Michael Jackson was that great. We remember him for « Billie Jean » but also for « Man in the mirror » or « Heal the world ». His legacy is huge.
5 – What are your favorite protest songs of all time?
Well, as you can guess, I’m (still) a big Michael Jackson fan. I think my favorite protest song is his military pop anthem « They don’t care about us ». A fantastic beat, a beautiful melody, and powerful lyrics: you have everything in here. Not to mention the fabulous video –videos in fact, because Michael recorded two different ones. We definitely need to keep making protest songs. Music isn’t just about emotion, it’s also a political tool.
6 – How is your songwriting process? Did you usually come up with the title or lyric idea first?
I always compose the melody first, entirely, then I work on the lyrics when everything is in order. I cannot do the other way around. I believe music is a good melody in the first place. It’s not like a book. When I have a good melody, I try to find some relevant lyrics. The title is what comes at the end: you have to feel what kind of emotion you want to give, what kind of word or expression you want to repeat several times: when you know that, you can finally choose your title.
7 – When will you release your next music video? Where did you film it?
We just finished the shooting of my second music video, we should be able to release it at the end of the month. We shot in a Parisian studio. We’re now working on the video editing. I’m so excited to see the final work.
8 – Is there an upcoming album for 2017?
Absolutely! My debut EP will be ready this year. Basically, we recorded several new tracks just after Xmas and I’ll be back again in the studio soon after the release of my next single.
9 – How do you stay in touch with your fans?
I’m not very original when it comes to that part of the job… I just spend a lot of time on social media. Maybe 8 hours a day, sometimes more. But it’s not only to stay in touch with fans if you know what I mean… 😉
10 – How can music change the world?
I don’t know if music can change the world, but some artists can. When singers, or actors or writers build something strong throughout the years, they become icons and as such, they can have an impact on society. Singers are not only singers, they’re humans with philosophical or political values. Or they’re just puppets.