Gino DePinto, AOL
Check out Conor's "Potter" accent in the video below, then read on for more from his interview with AOL Music.
While comparisons come easily in the music business, Conor's famous mentors were quick to recognize that there's something special about this kid. Superstar producer and N.E.R.D. frontman Pharrell Williams proclaimed Conor would "change the future of pop music." "That was kind of a big statement to be dropped on my head in the middle of recording in the studio with Pharrell," Conor admits. "I said, 'OK, I'll try! I'll do it for you.' It was a crazy thing to hear from him, but rather than allowing it to put a lot of pressure on me. I think it just gave me a big boost in confidence and gave me a lot of drive to go away and do that and show him why he believed in me from the start. I worked with him before I ever released anything."
However humble his response, changing the game is what the teen has set out to do. "I think I named my album Contrast because it's a contrast from what's already out there. I think that there are not really any albums or artists doing that exact thing. I want to be as successful as possible and I want as many people as possible listening to what I'm doing. So, I think if that happens, it will kind of, I suppose, change [pop music] in a way."
"There are so many things that go into being an artist now," Conor acknowledges. That being said, and despite the current pop-music climate in which an artist's image and long resume of side gigs plays an increasingly prominent role in shaping their career, the teen admits, "The main thing I focus on is my vocals."
"I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake ... I think it was the same for them. Their vocals inspire me. If people want to say that there's something they don't like about me, I think that's fine. As long as they can't say that I can't sing, that's all that matters to me. I wouldn't really care if someone said, 'Oh I don't like the way he looks.' For me, it's all about the music."
Perhaps Conor's making up for lost time. He's only been singing for three year, after all! He left college halfway through his studies to pursue a career in music, which he says he had absolutely no interest in until he was 16-years-old. "My passion was acting," Conor reveals. "I started when I was 7 and I went to a drama school part-time on the weekends, every Saturday. Singing and dance were the two other things we could do, and I only did them because my friends did it. Then suddenly, when I turned 16, I had this big interest in singing."
Despite being a relatively late bloomer, Conor's debut studio effort debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Albums chart in the U.K. And of course, being the charming bloke that he is, his success has scored him the overzealous admiration of screaming fans across the globe, which he has affectionately dubbed "Mayniacs." "I was in an airport in Dublin, Ireland and I actually had a police escort through the airport," he recounts of one "really scary" fan encounter. "They had me in a headlock. I was crying in their arms as they were snapping photos. Probably wasn't the best picture!"