Humble isn’t always a word that best describes many musicians or singers, but it describes Twin Cities producer and songwriter Landon Conrath perfectly. When you talk to the unassuming 23-year-old Bethel University graduate of Lino Lakes, you wouldn’t imagine he has nearly a million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Conrath released his first song “Pieces” in January 2020. The song was picked up by some of Spotify’s algorithmic playlists, such as Discover Weekly and Release Radar, which introduce listeners to new music based on what’s already in their playlists. But his monthly listenership grew exponentially when his song “Acetone” was added to Spotify’s Good Vibes editorial playlist which has 2 million listeners.
At first, Conrath found it difficult to transfer (or even feel) that real-life success. He and his band hadn’t played any shows (due to the pandemic) and Conrath only had a small presence on Instagram and other social media platforms. Were people really listening to his music, or were they just reshuffling Spotify’s curated playlists?
“It was this weird dissociation between like, am I really doing okay? Or was I really, really, really lucky? Conrath said. “It’s been a weird back-and-forth: I haven’t done much and I’m not very successful, but people seem to see my internet presence as a success, which just doesn’t feel right.”
While numbers mean a lot in the music industry, it’s not the numbers that drive Conrath. In fact, he seems to shy away from his Spotify success, as if his long monthly listener list is illegitimate and not transferable to his day-to-day reality, even as he has built a passionate following of local listeners.
Regardless of where he’s cultivating his audience, Conrath’s breezy indie-pop songs are catchy and ultimately uplifting while staying true to his personal style.
“It’s like the most cliched story to start my songwriting career of all time. I just wrote a song about a stupid breakup, like everyone in the world does,” Conrath said of his song “Pieces.” He’s getting married next year and jokes that luckily he should find something new to write about. Lately, she’s been spending time writing about mental health and her experiences in lockdown over the past few years.Her debut album, “Nothing matters anyway”, it’s about facing the unknown and finding hopeful optimism despite its nihilistic title.
“We all deal with a lot of the same things, like, it’s not bad when you’re struggling and you have tough times in your life. It’s normal. Things are going to be okay at the end of the day,” Conrath said. “There’s a little bit of camaraderie.”
Conrath tries to get as involved in the production process of his music as possible, even working alongside Jake Luppe of Hippo Campus on fan-fave “From Trader Joe.” While on tour, he was the musical and production director for fellow Minnesota songwriter Ber. Since he’s predominantly a drummer, any guitar playing in his songs is simple. But Conrath doesn’t care.
“Besides, it only arises out of necessity. Like, I don’t know how to produce a really clean pop song,” Conrath said. “I probably couldn’t do it if someone hired me…so I kind of stick to my guns.”
But for an artist who strives to make music that feels like himself, it works.
“The more involved artists are with their music, the more it sounds like them, just because it’s theirs,” he said.
Like every other Minnesota performer, Conrath dreams of one day playing the main hall on First Avenue with his bandmates and “the best friends in the whole Earth.” He hopes he can use the platform he has gained from his Spotify success to highlight the Minneapolis music scene and give back to the community.
“Part of me has a strange pride in staying in Minneapolis and wanting to see the city become a music center,” said Conrath. “I just want to stay here and do everything I can to legitimize Minneapolis…the more music we can get here, the more people will finally realize it’s a great city.”
Socket Landon Conrath performs at 7th St. Entry on December 30th. Ber, Creeping Charlie, TYSM! and DJ Qani will open.