Conrad Sewell on Mimicking Michael Jackson and Touching People With His Music
Some boys spend their youth years fantasizing about being athletes or actors. But music has always been in Conrad Sewell’s blood. Even when he was a child growing up in Brisbane, Australia, the tousle-haired singer-songwriter knew that the stage was his destiny.
“I knew I wanted to do music at eight years of age,” Sewell remembers. “I listened to a lot of Motown growing up, and it got to the point where I started mimicking people – Michael Jackson or whoever. People started to notice I could hold a tone. The bug was always there. And then when I performed for the first time at 11, that’s when I really got the high. From that moment on, I knew that … I [had] to do that for the rest of my life.”
On Aug. 22, Sewell put his talents on display the inaugural Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival in New York, where he performed a set of songs from his anticipated solo debut album early in the afternoon. Later in the day, Sewell emerged again, making a guest appearance during Kygo’s main-stage set to perform their hit collaboration “Firestone” to thousands of enthusiastic fans.
Sewell, along with rising singer Zella Day, performed at the festival via Billboard’s partnership with the Patch. Created by Sour Patch Kids, The Patch supports touring musicians by providing them with a comfortable locale that fuels inspiration and immerses them in a community of like-minded artists. The Patch houses in Austin and Brooklyn have served as a sanctuary to many emerging acts on tour, and Sewell used the locale to recharge his batteries before Hot 100 weekend.
“What’s great about the Patch is its homey vibe,” he said. “Traveling a lot and touring, you’re in and out of hotels and you don’t have any comforts around. This house has all of them. It’s just got a great energy.”
Between his time jamming in the house’s basement recording studio and running acoustic renditions of “Firestone” and his solo single “Hold Me Up,” Sewell reflected on the evolution of his career and the legacy he hopes to leave behind.
“I want to be remembered as a great performer,” he said. “I want to touch people with the music and help them through whatever they’re going through. That’s what music’s there for -- making people happy.”