Connor Morand began his music journey as a folk artist, and since then, he has evolved his sound to fit his mold, while still honoring his love for all musical diversity. His yearn for a variety of music tastes is evident in his latest single, “94 Corolla,” which is a hip-hop, pop track that “explores the idea of life’s biggest moments happening in familiar, average spaces.” The song features co-writing credits with friend and fellow Canadian artist, UNBLOOM, who also co-produced the track.
We caught up with Connor who talked about his musical journey so far, his earliest memories of being drawn to music, the meaning behind his latest single “94 Corolla,” his collaboration with UNBLOOM, and his fun music favorites. Be sure to listen to “94 Corolla” below:
You began as a folk artist in your musical journey; what led you to evolve your sound?
I think many musicians have the same answer, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to be stuck in a mold day after day, song after song. The beautiful thing about music is that it can (and should) be whatever YOU and you alone want it to be. I will always love folk music, but I don’t want to record a bunch of songs with my voice and an acoustic guitar because someone told me I should; I will always and forever make music that matters to me first, regardless of genre or instrumentation. I feel good about where I am now, and still hope to be ten years down the road.
What are your earliest memories of being drawn to music and songwriting?
My mother was a singer and my father was a piano player, so a lot of my earliest musical memories came from my parents, but I remember doing the whole “school / church play” thing for a number of years. It wasn’t until around middle school that I really started to get involved in instrumentation, specifically the guitar and drums.
In terms of songwriting, the very first (full) song I remember writing was a rap song. I was in Grade 6, and the song was called “Sleep Tight”. I actually still have the original lyric sheet, which is pretty cool. Maybe I’ll frame it one day or something.
Your latest single, “94 Corolla,” is hip-hop infused pop, exploring life’s big moments in ordinary circumstances. What was the inspiration or theme behind this song?
Yeah, it sure is! The “big moment” inspiration behind the song was a time when my girlfriend broke up with me almost a year ago (we’re back together now!).
A lot of people ask this, but contrary to popular belief, we actually didn’t break up in a 94 Corolla. It was on a park bench at our favourite park in my hometown of London, Ontario. As it was happening, I remember thinking, “Wow, this is one of the biggest moments in my life, and it’s happening in the middle of a park.” Just an average location that had nothing inherently special about it at the time.
I believe that everyone has had a “94 Corolla” moment – those important events in your life that happen in average locations. Choosing a “94 Corolla” as the song’s main metaphor was easy because many people have had a really crappy car that they’ve had significant moments in…including me. My first car was a 1998 Toyota Camry, so pretty close. But it doesn’t have to be a car; it can be your bedroom, favourite coffee shop, workplace, really anywhere that may not seem special at the time, but becomes so because of the moments you’ve had in that space.
You’ve frequently collaborated with fellow Canadian artist, UNBLOOM. How did that come about, and what is your guys’ writing and recording process like?
Jon (his real name) and I met through our incredible mutual singer friend, Jenn, in August of 2018. She recommended that we work together sometime because our personalities were so similar. You know when someone says, “Wow, you two are so alike! You’d get along great!” and then you almost get skeptical and start saying “Yeah, yeah…okay…”? We both felt that way, but we still gave it a shot.
The thing when you’re collaborating with someone musically for the first time is that once you know…you know. Now, I KNOW for fact Jon would say the exact same thing, but within about five minutes of meeting each other, we both knew that we were going to work together for a while. Jon and I have a VERY similar thought process, musically and not. If one of us references a song or specific sound, the other one knows what it is 95% of the time. Writing and production becomes that much easier when you both understand each other that well. It’s crazy. I’ve never worked with anyone like that before. He’s such an awesome, down-to-earth, and very genuine dude that I love so much. He’s one of my best friends.
We also share the same terrible, father-like sense of humour, which is eye-rolling at best for most people, but we love it.
Is an album and/or EP in the works?
It’s definitely a project of *some* kind, but I’m not definitively sure what it’ll be yet. It all depends on which songs – and how many of them – fit together as one unit. I don’t have a song count goal in my head; I’m much more focused on individual songs at this point. That being said, am I going to release singles for the next few years? Ideally not.
I’m not 100% sure yet…and that’s okay. I’m creating music at my own pace.
Who was your first concert? Who’s been your favorite so far?
My first ever concert was Steven Curtis Chapman with my parents at a church somewhere in Ontario. I think I was eight at the time. I remember going ballistic over it, and I still listen to his music to this day. His album Speechless holds a cool place in my heart.
One of my favourite concerts I’ve ever seen was actually pretty recently. I saw Alexisonfire, one of my favourite bands of all time, in Toronto this past June. It was two days after the Raptors won their first NBA championship, so they brought the raptor mascot on stage to start the show. There were over 15,000 people there and they went nuts. That was my first time seeing them live in the 10+ years I’ve been a fan, and it absolutely won’t be the last.
Bonus answer: I saw Twenty One Pilots in May right in London, and was so impressed. I haven’t listened to a lot of their music, but I became much more of a fan after seeing them. They’re incredible performers and pay so much attention to detail in terms of set design and overall show flow. So cool.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
I’ve got two answers here:
The first album I specifically remember listening to was Backstreet’s Back by the Backstreet Boys. I was around six years old and started loving BSB after that.
However, the first album I remember buying with my own money was a CD copy of P.O.D.’s album Satellite. I had a walkman in grade school – one of the ones where you actually put the CD in it and it had a strap that you could put around your hand because it was too big to put in your pocket. I remember riding the bus and listening to that album on repeat.
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
In no particular order…
Porter Robinson – Worlds
Andy McKee – Art of Motion
Alexisonfire – Crisis
Michael Jackson – Thriller
Noah Gundersen – Ledges
Which artist has had the most influential impact on your music?
This is a tough one. I’ve been fortunate to grow up around so many different types of music that I draw inspiration from a variety of different sources. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself.
However, for the sake of giving an answer, I’d say especially over the past five years that my music has really been influenced by artists like Justin Timberlake, Jon Bellion, Porter Robinson, and Michael Jackson among others. Some people might listen to my music and completely disagree with any of these, but I know that each one of those artists took certain writing and production risks that I admired, and wanted to not necessarily replicate, but to stylistically and uniquely incorporate as “Connor Morand” elements of music. I try and take risks wherever I can.
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
I’ll go back to my boy band roots and throw on some Backstreet Boys or NSYNC every once in a while. I’ve always been fascinated with late 90s / early 2000’s pop music.
There’s also a German EDM group called Cascada that was especially popular in the late 2000s. Their version of “What Hurts the Most” is half-cheesy, half-iconic in my eyes. Also, “Evacuate the Dancefloor” was a high school staple for me.