Watch Aussie Singer Conrad Sewell Take a $273K Ferrari for a Joy Ride
Billboard goes along for the ride as Conrad Sewell breaks from his Kygo hit, Coke commercial and EP to take the new Ferrari for a spin.
"I think I’m in love,” says Conrad Sewell as he cruises along Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. But he’s not talking about a crush or a song. He’s talking about the deep-red Ferrari California T, a $273,240, carbon fiber-inlaid, leather-laden, four-seat, hard-top convertible that was introduced at the end of 2015 and is available now. “You just feel cool driving it. It’s not even that you feel like people are looking at you. You feel like a boss. I can get used to this feeling.”
The drop-top, which has a base price of $198,000, may be Ferrari’s “entry level” model (it doesn’t include pricey extras like forged painted trims and aluminum footrests), but the 27-year-old pop-soul crooner -- who has toured with Maroon 5 and Ed Sheeran, sung on Kygo’s hit “Firestone,” is featured in Coca-Cola’s new campaign and just released his debut EP, All I Know (300 Entertainment) -- isn’t getting too accustomed to its charms.
“At this point in my career I’m on the road so much, I don’t see the sense in buying a car that’s going to just sit in my garage,” says Sewell. Studying the buttons arrayed on the race car-inspired steering wheel in search of the turn signal, he flips on the windshield wipers by accident. “Plus, I don’t think I want to make the jump to a sports car yet. I want to save that for when I’ve really arrived and money is no object.”
ARTISTS' LOVE AFFAIR WITH FERRARI
Generations of musicians have purchased the sleek car with the iconic prancing horse
Not that he’s unfamiliar with the joys of driving. Growing up in Brisbane, Australia, his father managed BMW dealerships and the family owned a stable of European sports sedans -- somewhat uncommon in what he describes as the country’s macho, muscle-car culture. Sewell learned to drive in his mom’s gold-painted Saab, then -inherited a BMW 3-Series when his older brother purchased a new one. Since moving to West Hollywood in 2014, he has had a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
But his most memorable ride, before sliding himself into this curvaceous Italian, was a wee British ragtop. “When I turned 21, my dad got me a Mini-Cooper convertible, which isn’t the manliest of cars. But I used to pack all my music equipment and go to gigs in it. I’d drop the top, and I’d have amps and guitars sticking out,” he says of touring with his first band, The Frets. “We must have looked like something out of a Wham! video, pulling up to pubs and us pretty boys getting out.”
Nowadays, Sewell is more likely to tour in a bus or van, even if he occasionally feels obligated to take the wheel. “I’m a very anxious person in cars; I like to be in control. I feel like people brake too late. I like keeping a nice distance between me and the next car, so there’s no chance of a possible crash whatsoever.” Sewell says this just before coming to a stop in a busy intersection. At a green light.
Hitting Mulholland Drive’s famed curves, Sewell shifts the car’s gears by pulling back on paddles protruding from the steering column. These control the California’s dual-clutch automatic transmission -- Ferrari no longer offers a stick shift. He listens to the wail of the potent V-8 engine. It reminds him of the music of The Doors: “A bit of the Hammond organ; a nice Telecaster through a bluesy amp.”
Driving through Laurel Canyon, an area famous for musical creation, Sewell says that he often uses his own car to test out songs he has just recorded. “It’s the best place to listen to them, because you know the speaker system so well. Often when I leave the studio, I’ll email tracks to my phone and I’ll hook it up in the car.”
Now that he has had this opportunity, will a Ferrari make it into the lyrics of a forthcoming song? “My overall aesthetic is leather jackets, cars. Those are things that I love,” says Sewell. “But I’m not, sort of, rolling around hip-hop-wise, jumping Ferraris into every line. I’m more of a soul singer, and it doesn’t really come up in conversation.”
This story originally appeared in the March 25 issue of Billboard.