Connor Garvey continues to surprise me. That’s a good thing. A very good thing. There is no chance that his shows will be repetitive or suffer in a dull sameness. Connor’s got the spark: a creative spark that literally shines all around him when he’s on stage. His recordings are equally charming. He has a way of turning a phrase or skewing a song scenario so that it makes the listener take note. That’s a real talent.
Let’s get the obligatory question out of the way: When did you first pick up a guitar?
I first picked up guitar in 7th grade. My dad is a musician and had guitars around the house but I started off as a drummer. My best friend and I were both drummers and used to spend hours blasting Smashing Pumpkins, They Might Be Giants, and REM and beating on the drums. Eventually we realized that if one of us picked up guitar we could form our own band…so since I had a guitar to learn on I picked it up. Plus, he was a much better drummer then I was! We formed a band called Electric Haz?ard (yes the ? is supposed to be there) and were together through graduating high school! He and the bass player are still in a successfully gigging band Super Frog.
Your style is pretty funky and not your typical strum, strum, pick style, if you know what I mean. Who or what inspired you to play the way you do?
We are all products of inspirations and interesting decisions. I have always loved acoustic music in the folk tradition but have also loved soul, funk, rock, and hip-hop. In college I formed a funk band called Officer Funk and those shows were some of the most fun I’ve ever had with music even to this day. There is freedom in a groove and we tapped into it! I still have groove in my core and am drawn to writing and performing songs that tap into who I am not just what I think people are used to hearing.
What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up? When did you seriously start thinking about music as a career?
I grew up listening to many types of music but singer songwriters like David Wilcox, John Gorka, Shawn Colvin, Catie Curtis and many others formed a glue that held all of my early musical memories together. I continue to pinch myself that I now get to play with these people. My father is also a great musician and was a part of a local group of musicians in Southern Maine and New Hampshire called Salmon Falls Friends of Music who continue to inspire me.
For better or worse I was always serious about my music. I recorded an album with my band and a solo album before I graduated high school and actively sought out opportunities to play and grow through TV, Radio, and live stage. I have always enjoyed sharing my music with the world and feel that through sharing it it validates my need to get it out. I slowly gained my chops through my school days and early days after and in 2008 I decided to give in whole-heartedly and pursue a career in music. The tipping points were very important. I was working at an outdoor education center doing amazing and inspiring work (work I still try to stay connected to) and at that job we were provided a life coach. Through our conversations I became aware of my need to get my music out there and looked for access points to enter the world through.
On a whim I emailed Catie Curtis (whom I have social circle overlap with) and asked her if I could take her out to coffee and pick her brain about life as a touring singer-songwriter and see if that would help steer my decision-making. She said yes AND offered up an alternative option to join her on the road for a three day run of shows as her merchandise man and general helper. I was blown away and took her up on the option. Long hours in the car, introductions to other great musicians, and insight into her life all led me to know this was a path I wanted to walk on and I am, to this day, extremely appreciative of that opportunity. I also learned a lot about the logistics of touring when I was partially responsible for Meg Hutchinson’s car getting towed and I picked up a parking ticket on Catie’s car that I was 100% responsible and paid it before she saw it…I don’t think she knows about that…
Kindhearted people continually affirm me in this path and for that I am fulfilled!
Your story based songs like “Pencil Frame” and “The Bird” really seem to resonate with your audiences. The characters in your songs live and breathe for us. Have you ever considered writing fiction as well as songs?
Well I have now! I suppose I have thought about writing fiction though it would be a leap into the unknown…but that’s exactly what the song The Bird is trying to tell us, so I suppose maybe I should try my hat at it!
Tell us about the recognition that you got being on XM’s “The Coffeehouse.” Did that exposure increase your fan base across the country exponentially?
One of the producers at XM’s The Village heard 1 minute of one of my songs at a music conference and suggested I send it in to The Coffeehouse. Months later the song was on heavy rotation spinning some 5-6 times a day for 6 months. I garnered a spot in their top 6 new singer songwriters of 2010 and came in to their NYC studio for a live in-studio performance on the same day as Adele, Florence and the Machine, Slash, and Ace of Base! It was all a bit of a whirlwind and I had people connecting to my music around the country. Beyond the very beneficial boost in sales and royalties the exposure blasted open a large base of fans and connections that have lead to shows, songwriting workshop teaching, and continued support. Truly it was an awesome swing of time that continues to shine light on my career now. I sure do hope for another blast like that!
I was totally blown away by your live looping at the recent Club Passim show. Have you been using a looper (or is there a more accurate or technical term) long? Do you do many songs with it?
I’ve been using a loop station for a little while. I try to use it for moments of grandeur and break from the norm…it can be very dangerous to over-use. There are some extremely talented loopers out there who use it as an amazing instrument and form of expression…I suppose I use it as a window into more depth of what I enjoy about performing music!
I’d like to hear more about the new CD that you’ll be recording this year!
I have just launched a kickstarter campaign geared at raising awareness and funds for the album and would love to steer folks towards that! I am launching into a double disc album with one disc being a studio album recorded in Portland, ME with much of the same crew as Where Ocean Meets Land (2011) and the other disc being the same songs recorded at a house concert in Bozeman, MT with much of the same crew as Constancy of Stars (2009). This, to me, seems like an awesome way to capture two sides of who I am, how songs exists in the world, and people whom I love sharing music with. I am absolutely in love with a bunch of these songs and can’t wait to capture these tunes on disc!
To learn more about Connor, visit his website.
Here’s a look at Connor in concert.
Connor will be opening for David Wilcox at the me&thee on March 15.