Chasing your dreams may seem like just that for some: a dream.
But for others, there is no limit to what can be achieved when you set your mind to it.
Connor Morand is a Canadian recording artist and songwriter currently making his way through Europe and Asia on a six-month tour, proving just how far he’s willing to go to fuel his passion.
Originally from London, Ontario, Connor has always had a natural love for music. He has written music for T.V. and film, while also performing for radio, live events and various venues. With great support from friends and loved ones, he was able to release his debut album Matter of Fiction in 2012, and was later named one of the Top Seven Atlantic Canadian Artists to Watch. Having lived in New Brunswick and other Atlantic provinces for most of his life, he has also played with known Maritime artists such as The Divorcees, Andy Brown and Christine Campbell.
“The East Coast is so inviting!” Connor shares. “Having a small population in relation to bigger provinces like Ontario gives it a ‘homey’ feel. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about the East loves the relaxed environment it brings … Living in N.B., you get to know seemingly everyone in your city quite fast, and you develop connections with those people. It’s the same thing for me when I play a show: there’s a connection there between the artist and the fans.”
Having played locally for most of his life, setting off on an international tour was something new for Connor jumping in. But finding the courage and determination to follow his passions has become an almost natural concept for this artist.
“I have always been a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ kind of guy,” Connor said. “I take pride in having a diverse skill set and I know that no matter where I end up in life, I’m sure I’ll learn a bunch of new skills that will help me in some capacity.
“In terms of passion, music is my lifeblood. I know people say it all the time, especially artists, but music truly is an amazing gift that everyone can enjoy. And, as self-gratifying as playing music makes me feel, I also like making others feel something through my music. That’s the greatest part.”
With musical influences coming from a post-hardcore and hard rock genre, Connor doesn’t shy away from experimentation, possessing a deep love for the acoustic and finger-style guitar.
“Alexisonfire is one of my favourite bands of all time and I have always admired their songwriting ability,” he said. “I [also] learned to fall in love with guys like Andy McKee, Don Ross and Antoine Dufour because of their natural ability to make an acoustic guitar sound so beautiful. [It’s] such an amazing talent those guys have.”
Connor has recently been working on a new single that will launch in February, as well as an EP entitled Everything is Gold, available this spring. Until now, Connor attributes the release of his first album, Matter of Fiction, to be his greatest accomplishment, but as he grows musically and lyrically from his new experiences, he begins to push the limits with his new EP, adding a more electronic feel to his style and sound.
And although this will surely mark another milestone for Connor, he doesn’t let it take him out of the moment and away from what he’s doing right now.
“This tour is a huge learning experience for me,” he said. “I’ve learned something different from every show – and I truly mean that … I’m experimenting with different ways to engage crowds and give different twists on my songs versus how they were recorded. People like feeling involved. It creates a better show.”
Having just wrapped up the European portion of his tour and will be continuing onto Asia in the new year, Connor feels he has already learned so much from his audiences abroad.
“Every venue is different, even if you play at two different places in the same country. … People love hearing good music. That’s something that is shared worldwide.”
While his main focus right now is to create a more engaging onstage presence, being on tour has certainly given Connor a fantastic creative outlet, making way for more possibilities looking forward.
“I’ve tried writing new material almost every day since I left Canada,” he said. “Some days, I’ll get a full song in while others, it’ll just be a line or two … I can already see a new album in the works through what I have been writing, so that’s been getting me excited about the next few years. I could name off about 30-40 different [inspiring musicians I’ve met] already, but it’s best if I just say that the folks I have connected with have been nothing short of awesome.”
To commemorate these encounters, Connor had the idea to buy a guitar specifically for this tour and has been encouraging each person he meets to sign it – without direction. He believes that, when giving people such an outlet, it really allows them to open up, creating an intimate connection between artist and audience.
“Everyone has a story, and I’ve heard some amazing ones through this simple act of signing a guitar,” Connor said. “I get inspired the most by being around other people, so that has played a huge role in my growth both as an artist and a person.”
Having made his way through some incredible cities such as Hamburg, London and Amsterdam, travelling from place to place has certainly been exhausting for the artist. And yet, Connor still has great respect for all the benefits that come with this type of travel, both musically and personally.
“Travel enables you to experience new things you may not otherwise have had the chance to back home,’ he said. “This alone has directly influenced how I’ve been writing … I like how songwriting can happen anywhere. I’ve written in the bathroom, on top of a mountain, in a subway station, and many other places. It’s not confined at all.”
Such experiences simply add to an already long list of accomplishments for Connor, including obtaining a Bachelors degree in marketing, showcasing his talents at the East Coast Music Awards, hitting Top 100 on iTunes with Matter of Fiction, speaking to hundreds of youth across Canada about pursuing your passion and even applying for a Guinness World Record on his down time.
“I have two [hidden talents] that stick out: juggling and catching small edible objects in my mouth. Grapes, crackers, gummy bears, that kinda thing. I feel like being in the circus would have been a viable career option for me. [The Guinness World Record I applied for was the] highest grape self-thrown and caught in the mouth, but it didn’t get approved. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it again.”
What these endeavors all have in common is Connor’s ability to strive for greatness and his willingness to take a shot, even when faced with great adversity. He offers this advice to anyone looking to fulfill their own dreams:
“Be passionate about something, listen to others, and stay humble,” he said. “Being nice gets you a long way in life and makes [it] a whole lot easier.
“Being creative has helped me discover one of my greatest passions, which has given me an even greater drive to keep creating. Music, much like any other art form, has no limits to what can be done with it.”
So while the road has been long, hard and far from finished, Connor takes this advice – along with the wise resolution of eating a ton of great food as often as you can – with the belief that if you work hard enough and are passionate enough, success won’t be too far behind.
“You’re going to mess up – a lot. You’re going to lose hope in what you’re doing. A LOT. Embrace it. Writing, performing, whatever the case; You WILL eventually find success, no matter how much or how little time it takes.
“The important thing is just to keep on keeping on.”
“Go Johnny Go!” filmed in London, England, at the King William IV
Travel blogger for thehereandwow.com and member of the Travel Media Association of Canada. Follow her adventures on twitter (@ginaalward), Facebook (The Here and Wow) and Instagram (@thehereandwow).
For tour dates, updates and more on the artist, visit Connor’s homepage at www.connormorand.com, and take a listen to his music by clicking here. You can also find Connor Morand on Facebook by searching Connor Morand, or simply by clicking here.
To browse more Canadian music, click here.