His Story: Connor Leimer

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Connor Leimer and I’m a 19-year-old singer/songwriter from Kansas City. I write songs and dabble with multiple instruments when I’m not seeking inspiration by spinning vintage vinyl, reading autobiographies or engaging in deep conversation with a friend. I’ve recently moved to Nashville, TN to work with a producer on new material. “Postcard”, my new album, was released to digital stores worldwide on the 2nd of October this year. I have also just finished up a successful Dorm Room Tour of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest that I booked myself.

Share with us how growing up in Kansas City was like?

I grew up in a city just south of Kansas City called Leawood so it was always hip to drive downtown to the Crossroads district, Westport or the River Market and explore the area and restaurants. Downtown is where I do most of my recording and it’s where I’ve been able to pursue music the most. I participated in a program put on by the Grammy Museum in L.A. around my junior year of high school that allowed me to commute downtown everyday and network with local artists, experience studio settings, etc. All in all, Kansas City has been a great starting point for my music career and has inspired me to really pursue my abilities to write, perform, and entertain.

What is one most embarrassing moment growing up?

Nothing too embarrassing comes to mind really. I’ve had a few awkward shows where you’re just starting out and not really sure what to do on stage. I tend to block those moments out and focus on the good moments. 

How would ‘A Day in the Life of Connor Leimer' be like? 

I love to write songs and dabble with lyrics and melody lines so my guitar is always out if inspiration sparks. Most of my friends are involved in music so I’m always getting together with them to collaborate, whether that’s designing artwork for an album cover, creating templates for CD packaging with my graphic designer friends, or just rehearsing and writing with other musicians. I see being an artist as more than just being a musician and I enjoy bringing friends into the creative process to contribute their talents to my work. Ultimately, I think it makes for a better album and something to be proud of as a team of artists. 

How do your parents and friends feel about you taking the music route?

My parents are very supportive of what I’m doing and I think that stems from the belief in my songs and my songwriting ability and the idea that pursing your passions in life is the ultimate and most meaningful goal in life. When I decided to take a year off of school I remember calling at least 15 friends and asking them “What the hell do I do?” and if school was the route I should take or if I should just move to Nashville and network and pursue the artist side. My friends and family are my biggest supporters and they really keep me motivated as an artist.

As a talented young individual like yourself, you are sure to have many suitors! Care to share with us a little about your take on love and relationships?

Of course, I knew this question had to come up. Rumor has it that I’m in love with a girl named June, which is basically this idea that I’ve conjured up about the summer and the month of June being the best days of the year, the best time of the year, and therefore something worthy of a relationship. So it’s safe to say I’ve had a love affair with the summer since my debut EP “Like It’s June”. In terms of true relationships, I’ve only had a handful of girlfriends (if you can call them that) but I love writing about the feelings experienced during those times and as of late I’ve been really intrigued with this idea that Swedish songwriter Jens Lekman talks about – which is the idea of marrying for citizenship rather than the vague and often temperamental feelings of love. It’s this concept of a relationship that doesn’t lie about its intentions and has a purpose bigger than love (if you can imagine that). Listen to the song “I Know What Love Isn’t” by Jens Lekman for further details! But for now, I’m still dearly in love with June.

We’ve seen you on a couple of instruments. Name all the instruments you can play!  

Guitar is my instrument of choice. But I dabble with piano, harmonica, bass, and a range of percussion instruments. My first instrument was drums at age 7 of which I’m highly proficient (if anyone needs a drummer, please don’t hesitate to ask).

How would you best describe the style and genre of your music?

I like to say my music and style is unique because of my songwriting. This new album “Postcard” is truly a glimpse into the numerous styles and genres I’ve grown up playing and listening to so there’s a variety of genres featured. But as of late, I really think my style is all about the songs and lyrics and that tends to resonate best when it’s just my acoustic guitar and my voice. I like to say my music is Justin Timberlake meets Mumford & Sons meets Jack Johnson meets John Legend. I truly love all styles of music and continuously find inspiration from a number of artists.

Who are your biggest music influences?

My influences change constantly but here’s what I’ve been listening to lately: Dispatch, John Legend, Lake Street Dive, Del Water Gap, She’s A Keeper, Justin Timberlake, Jens Lekman, Pete Francis, Chadwick Stokes, Bahamas, Scott James, etc.

What spun you into a music career at such a young age? Describe some ups and downs you faced in your journey so far.

Music has always been my greatest passion and something I derive so much joy from. The biggest up of my career has been these past few years networking through the Grammy Project and meeting local musicians to collaborate with. I really enjoy being in the studio so making this new album “Postcard” was a huge up for my career. The biggest downs I’ve experienced are the moments you record a song and it doesn’t turn out how you envisioned so you scrap it or have to redo it in the studio. I hold my music to the highest standard and I continually reach for making a better album whether that’s on the production side or the songs themselves. 

As a songwriter, how do you get out of the inevitable writer’s block every now and then?

Songwriting has always been about experimentation for me so if writer’s block occurs I can usually find new inspiration from listening to new artists or switching up instruments, trying to write on piano rather than guitar.

We understand that your new album, “Postcard”, has recently been released! Tell us a little more about “Postcard”. 

“Postcard” in a sense is a culmination of all the songs I’ve written growing up and the numerous styles that have influenced me. In that sense, it’s truly a postcard from each genre or style of song. The title track “Postcard” is about my personal strife with figuring out what path I wanted to take with education, music, and even career wise but the overall message is universal: the idea that living in another state or country would be so much better than where you currently reside. It’s this idea of realizing the greatness around you amid dreams of living in a city like Paris where things would be better, or purchasing a sailboat and living out at sea along islands, or living on the coast where there’s better weather. It’s a concept I’ve gone back and forth with in my personal life quite frequently and still do. Everyone wants to lead the best life possible and sometimes it seems that maybe there’s a life going on somewhere else that you want to be part of yet you’re stuck in a small town or area of the world that you feel isn’t what you want to end up living. 

How does this album differ from your previous ones?

This is my first full-length album and it’s my most professionally produced album to date. The album was mastered in New York City by a Grammy Award-winning engineer and features a guest appearance by Gracie Schram who just released an album produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, The Lone Bellow, Ben Rector, etc.) It’s a top tier Connor Leimer record benchmarking an era in my songwriting while building a foundation for future albums to come.  

How would you describe “Postcard” in one sentence?

A personal memoir on love, desire and personal strife with homage to the mail systems that at one time controlled the communication pathways of generations of people. 

Which self-written song do you hold closest to your heart, and why?  

The title track “Postcard” is the nearest to my heart. It’s about my decision to pursue music despite pressure to attend school and an orthodox career, and it also dispels these notions that I’ve had that I won’t ever be good enough or do great things being from Kansas rather than living in New York, Los Angeles, or a city with perhaps more opportunities than the one I currently reside in. It’s a very personal memoir in a sense.

Some of your friends lent their help and efforts for the making of this album and it is very well put together! How long did it take altogether for these 10 songs to be perfectly arranged?  

We started recording in November of 2014 and finished by May 2015. So by the time I got the masters back from New York City (for mixing/mastering) it was late July 2015. I’m extremely proud of all my friends who lent their time and talents making this album. Everything from the album cover to the CD design to the very musicians playing on the songs are all just friends helping me out and lending their talents.

You’ve been touring for gigs and concerts for a few years now, and have recently finished a successful Dorm Room Tour for “Postcard”. Tell us what’s it like to perform in front of a crowd. 

It’s most likely the most fun I’ll ever have in my entire life. That’s just a guess but I have yet to experience anything greater than sharing music to an audience that’s grooving to it. 

What are the differences between playing huge shows, and playing smaller, intimate ones? Which do you prefer?

I’m really inspired and motivated to play intimate shows because I believe my music is catered towards that style. I’m hugely inspired by the theatre tour Jack Johnson did in 2013 where he played in all these beautiful theatres across the US. I’d love to do something similar. I prefer small shows, which explains my recent successful Dorm Room Tour of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest that I booked myself. I just want to foster lifetime fans that connect with the music and lyrics. That’s what success looks like to me. 

Do you get nervous before performances? What are your pre-show rituals?  

I’ve never been too nervous really, I’d call it excitement, if anything. I’m an enthusiasm driven type of person so I really fuel off of the moment and energy of the audience.

Most memorable performance?

I opened for my favorite local band, She’s A Keeper, in 2014 at The Granada Theater and it was the first time I truly felt that I could make it in music and that I was a part of this hip, chic scene. It was also my first theatre show playing on the big stage (with fancy lights & monitors).

You’ve been touring mainly in the U.S so far, are there any plans to tour out of the U.S in the future?  

No plans of yet to venture to other continents or countries but my dream tour is a European (mostly Scandinavian) tour. I’m a bit of a romantic and lately have been in love with the architecture in many of Europe’s oldest cities. I’ve been fortunate enough to see many of the cities in Sweden, Denmark, France, etc. so that is surely to blame. A European tour would be a dream-come-true for a kid like me.

The American music scene and the indie music scene have evolved a great deal ever since indie music became a thing. Was there any pressure for you to constantly better yourself and how do you do so?

I don’t feel too much pressure in music really. I think every artist/band has something unique to offer and that’s the most important thing for me. My competitive advantage is my songwriting and melody style so I just look for opportunities to share the stage and collaborate with other artists.

What are the challenges in sustaining this music path you took?  

There’s constant pressure to write great songs, but I’m never too caught up in that because I’ve been writing for so long and it tends to come naturally. The biggest challenge for me is to continue reaching out to people who can help further my career to reach the next level. I want to be successful more than anything and have been reaching out to just about everyone I know (and don’t know) for advice and guidance.

Who is one musician that you would love to share the stage with?

I’d love to play an acoustic living room show with Chadwick Stokes since he just completed an entire tour across the US playing in living rooms and has been a huge inspiration for me being an unsigned artist.

If you could only choose one artist to listen to for the rest of your life, who would it be?

That is such a hard question… I wouldn’t ever get sick of listening to "She’s A Keeper" if we can say it that way.

If you could turn back time, is there anything you would do differently?

Not at all. Carpe Diem. Live for today. Don’t look back!

Any advice for aspiring young musicians like yourself?

Meet musicians and artists in your town and collaborate with them, play shows with them, share your music with them and act as support for each other. You really need the support of great friends and other bands/artists.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?

Hopefully leading a successful career as an artist. Releasing albums, touring, etc.

Lastly, name three things you would like to be stranded on a deserted island with.

An unlimited supply of letters and postage stamps, my 2006 iPod nano, and banana bread.