Some may call Conrad Clifton a bit of a renaissance man. The Brooklyn based musician produces, sings, raps and tickles the ivories (as they say). He is also a film and stage actor. At the moment, Clifton is focusing solely on his first love, music.
In this Winehouse spotlight he talks about wearing different creative hats, his dream collaborations and what vibe he’ll be bringing to NXNE.
Q: When did you decide to make the leap from actor to musician? And why?
A: Really, I was a musician first. As a kid, I was always in school chorus and piano lessons – I started freestyle rapping when I was 15. I knew I wanted to do something creative for a living, and acting was just a piece of the puzzle. I’ve always switched back and forth — I focused solely on acting for a year, which afforded me the opportunity to move to NYC to focus solely on music. That’s where I’m at now.
Q: You are a multitalented artist? You sing, rap, DJ? How do you decide which hat to wear? Or are you always wearing all the hats?
A: I just go with the flow. Sometimes one demands my attention more than the other, like when a great opportunity presents itself, I’m all in. If I could, I’d probably do everything at the same time, but that [would] be a little tough. Although, with the band I play in now, Cloud/Fighter, I serve as producer, DJ, and background vocalist.
Q: What do you enjoy about the producing end of things?
A: I love everything about the creative process of producing. Sometimes it can be difficult if you get stumped on a part, not knowing what to add (or take out), but I can always move on to another track and come back to this one later. The best part to me, is just making something out of nothing, no preconceived ideas or direction. That’s where the best, most creative stuff come from, I think.
Q: How do you describe your sound?
A: My sound is a crazy mixture of all of my influences, from hip-hop, electronic, alt rock, house, bass, and all types of dance music. But also, film scores. I love to convey different emotions through my music. I want my music to be able to go with you anywhere and with any situation (the club, the car ride, train ride, house party, a date, a lonely night, or even while you sleep). No matter what, it will be personal to you.
Q: What were some of the inspirations and ideas behind your album Picture in Picture?
A: Instead of releasing a collection of beats, I really wanted to create a full album experience –with points of high energy and low. A project with a flow that uniquely connects the songs to one another, and allows you to listen to the album from beginning to end, on repeat. Also, I wanted it to have a lasting quality — so if three years from now, a new listener is exposed to it, it’s still life changing (or at least pretty damn cool).
Q: Which musicians would you love to collaborate with?
A: Artists I’d love to work with (in no particular order), are Kendrick Lamar, Santigold, Hiatus Kaiyote, Wiley, Jhene’ Aiko, Kid Cudi, Kenna, Childish Gambino, Emika, Ghost Poet, and the list goes on. Producers I need to collab with, are Machinedrum, Lone, Gold Panda, Hudson Mohawke, RL Grime, Rustie, and Diplo.
Q: What is your dream venue to play in?
A: Right now, I’m more interested in playing festivals, rather than venues. It’s a huge privilege to be able to play at NXNE! I’d also love to play SXSW, Mad Decent Block Party, and Holy Ship. If I had to choose one venue right now, I’d really love to play to a sold out crowd at Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY).
Q: Have you performed in Toronto before?
A: Never. This will hopefully be the first of many, many appearances!
Q: What kind of vibe can we expect from your NXNE show?
A: Prepare to have your minds blown (kidding). No, my show isn’t really for the frenzied masses, but you will love it. It’s more for people that love music, and really want to feel something in their souls AND their feet. We’ll have that in common, so we’ll be enjoying the music together. It will be equal parts beats, bass, bounce, bob, feels, and vibes — but above all – it will be personal.