From The Magazine

Conan Gray Is Cool With Ghosts

And five other things you learn hanging out with the superstar.

A light quickly flickers on and off in the living room of Chateau Marmont. It’s something you could easily blame on the torrential downpour that’s plagued Los Angeles for the past three days, or even some outdated wiring on the nearly 100-year-old building. But for Conan Gray, it’s a sign. “They’re here,” he says, eyes wide, half joking, half completely serious.

Gray has had plenty of experiences with ghosts, it turns out. It’s one of the many things you learn from the pop star when spending a morning together. Here, some stories that didn’t make it in our April 2024 profile.

1. He’s Lived With Ghosts — Literally

The Chateau Marmont is notorious for being allegedly haunted, so that comes as an easy icebreaker when we first sit down to order breakfast. Gray, I quickly find out, is no stranger to encountering spirits, including co-habitating with one in his childhood home. Every night, like clockwork, he’d go to sleep on the top bunk, his large family dog asleep beneath him, and wake up at 3 a.m. — “which I much, much, much later learned is the witching hour,” he says. “One morning, I wake up at 3 in the morning like I always do, and my dog isn’t there. Then I hear someone down the hallway, but it’s coming from my brother’s room, so I was like, ‘It’s probably my brother getting up to go pee or whatever.’ But as I’m listening, I’m noticing that the footsteps are much heavier and much slower than he would ever walk. Then the footsteps slowly trudge to my door. It sounds like there’s a huge person walking in the hallway, but there’s no one there. Then I hear the thing walk into my room, and it starts to whistle a song. And at this point, I’m saying all my prayers.

“Then I start to hear each one of the individual steps of my little ladder creek. It’s coming up. It’s still whistling. So in a last ditch effort to survive, I throw my blankets in the general direction, fall off my bunk, slam my *ss on the floor, and go literally run for my life. But my sheets hit the lamp in my room and turn it on, and when I look, there’s nothing… The next morning, I woke up my stepmom and I was like, ‘Something happened last night.’ She half-asleep, was like ‘Oh, he just wanted to play,’ and then went back to sleep… Anyways, the house is haunted as f*ck.”

2. He’s a Voice-Note Person

Most of Gray’s songs start with a voice memo in his phone — so much so, that it’s slowed down the speed of the device. “I’ve done so many that now when I press record on my voice note, it takes two minutes before it actually begins to record.” So, he’s turned to another recording medium: faceless videos. “I have thousands of videos on my phone of my feet, which could be a great expense for some people,” he says. “Huge backup career: feet videos with me just humming weird melodies into my phone. There’s a market for it.”

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3. His Breakup Playlist Contains Both Ethel Cain & Dido

The inspiration for his latest album, Found Heaven, largely came from the highs and lows of his first love — and first major heartbreak. He turned to ’80s music during the highest highs — an inspiration you can hear heavily on the album. His breakup playlist, on the other hand, spans many genres. “I listened to ‘Crush’ by Ethel Cain maybe a thousand times. I listened to ‘Linger’ by the Cranberries a lot. ‘White Flag’ by Dido, I spent a good amount of my life listening to that song. ‘Don't Delete the Kisses’ by Wolf Alice was probably my main one, though. That f*cked me up. I needed something that felt like the experience, and that song definitely felt like the experience.”

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4. He Is An Adrianne Lenker Superfan

Gray calls Adele his favorite songwriter of all time — “I started writing music because of Adele, because I just love Adele,” he notes — but it’s Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker who gets his vote for best modern day songwriter. “Adrianne has such a distinct style that no one can replicate,” he says. “Being both such a talented guitarist and lyricist in combination just creates music that speaks to such a specific part of your soul that everybody has but doesn’t really know is never touched.”

5. He’s Never Actually Seen Bestie Olivia Rodrigo In Concert

“Biasedly — actually, no, unbiasedly — Olivia Rodrigo is one of the best performers right now,” he says. “But I’ve actually never been to a real Olivia concert. I’ve seen her play Jingle Ball. That was only recently. Prior to that, I was on tour while she was on tour, so [I] never saw her show. I’m excited for the Guts Tour to finally be able to watch a real Olivia show.” Still, Rodrigo only gushes when asked about her friend. “Conan is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met,” she writes in an email. “Anytime anybody he cares about is going through something tough, he’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help them through it. He’s incredibly smart and never fails to make everyone around him laugh.”

Here’s what it’s like to hang out with the two of them, according to Rodrigo: “Conan and I have the most fun doing the most mundane things in the world like driving to Starbucks and doing crossword puzzles. We make jokes out of just about anything.

Bonus: The One Thing Olivia Rodrigo Thinks People Should Know About Conan Gray

“There is an owl that visits Conan’s house occasionally and we have named her ‘Owlivia.’”

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