Interview by Paul Salfen
In his new music video for “If I Ever,” pop star Conor Maynard explores trust and suspicion in relationships and the different outcomes that they each can lead to. Directed and produced by Maynard himself, the video features a split-screen of Maynard and his love interest. On one side we see Maynard snooping onto his girlfriend’s phone and the fallout that has on him and his relationship. On the other side we glimpse an alternate reality in which he doesn’t peek onto her device, and the loving life they go on to lead. The video asks the question, is it better to live in blissful ignorance, or face the painful reality?
In the winter of 2022, Conor disappeared from social media, leaving his 13M+ followers scratching their heads. The silence was even more curious after what had been a whirlwind year for the famously prolific songwriter and YouTube star, which saw him travel the world on his biggest headlining tour to date, hitting more than 20 cities across the US and Europe. With the release of his new single “If I Ever,” fans got the answers they’ve been looking for. “If I’m honest, at the end of 2022 I went through a really rough breakup, which led to the decision to take a step back from everything, rather than trying to pretend I was fine,” Maynard revealed. “I took the time to pour it all into the only thing that ever seems to help me get through difficult moments – my music.”
Now, following his time away from the spotlight, Maynard has returned with “If I Ever,” the first taste of a bold new slate of material that he plans to release throughout 2023. Featuring fiercely personal songwriting and a new confidence found touring the world, “If I Ever” marks a creative turning point for Maynard, as he lets the abundant skills of his youth blossom and steer him into new directions of artistry and creativity.
“‘If I Ever’ is the first of a series of songs I wrote about an extremely difficult breakup I went through last year,” Maynard recalls. “It was a unique relationship and hard to write about, because 90% of it took place over phone calls and video calls, which I understand was common during the pandemic. This song captures my emotional experience following that breakup, and the anticipation I continue to feel about my upcoming appearance in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, since in our last conversation, she told me she still hopes to see me there.”
Maynard rose to fame in 2012 when he won MTV’s Brand New for 2012 award, competing alongside Delilah, Michael Kiwanuka, Lana Del Rey, and Lianne La Havas. He was signed to Parlophone and become one of the first home-grown talents to transition from online to IRL pop-stardom, proving the power of digital audiences while breaking new ground for countless other upcoming artists. He earned the mentorship of Ne-Yo and then exploded with his debut album ‘Contrast,’ which reached #1 and produced 5 Top Ten singles. The album catapulted him to international stardom, with his YouTube channel alone boasting 13.3 million subscribers and 2.5 billion views. World tours, awards, and collaborations with major artists followed, including Pharrell Williams, The Invisible Men and Rita Ora. Maynard even starred in the Broadway show Kinky Boots, showcasing another side to his multi-faceted talent.
But 10 years after the debut album that changed his life, Maynard realized it was time for him to go at it alone. He left his label and took his career to new and unchartered heights, racking up over 300 million streams in 2021 along, without any major player backing. It takes his worldwide reach to a staggering scale: Spotify streams of his music surpassed 2 billion, and he quickly become the 7th most followed TikTok music account in the UK, despite only joining the platform in 2020. The decision also allowed him to bring his music to new, adventurous heights, with a sense of artistic liberation lying at the heart of his new material.
“Sonically, this song is very different from any of my previous work, drawing inspiration from artists like The 1975 and The Weeknd,” Maynard continued. “The song may sound quite upbeat and positive at first, but upon a closer listen, you’ll realize that the lyrics are about a desperate heartbreak. I collaborated with one of my close friends on this track, writing and scrapping more than 50 songs over the course of a few months before we finally found a way to translate the story in a way that felt authentic to me.”
Maynard will continue to release material from this new era of creativity throughout 2023. Stay tuned for continued updates, and keep an eye on Maynard’s socials to follow his return to the world stage.