Spotlight Artist: Tyler Conroy

As some of you may or may not know, before I started my career as a Griffin at Marymount Manhattan College, I spent a year hanging with some of the best Gaels I know at Iona College. It was my freshman year, I was hella nervous, and had no idea how to make friends. But at the club fair in September, I stumbled across the table of Iona’s GSA club and met the E-board President, Tyler Conroy. The first thing I noticed about Tyler was his friendly and enthusiastic energy, which drew me in immediately and had me motivated more than ever to be a part of the GSA team. After a few weeks of meetings and eventually landing an E-board position of Secretary for GSA, I got to know Tyler pretty well. Like me, he is obsessed with Taylor Swift, he is a passionate member of the LGBTQ+ community, and he loves 90s throwback music. I knew we were going to get along great.

As we spent more and more time together planning events on campus - such as a NOH8 photoshoot and a “Post-It Positive” day - I got to learn more about Tyler as a person; his natural leadership, his vision for projects, and of course, his talents. I found out that he was a musician, and after I followed him on Twitter and watched his YouTube videos, and instantly knew he was someone who would be doing great things.

Since starting his YouTube career in 2009, Tyler has garnered over 1 million views on his YouTube videos, ranging from flash mobs, original music, and of course, and over-pouring dedication to Taylor Swift. He wrote and starred in the first ever Taylor Swift musical, filmed a parody music video of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” dedicated to his role as an RA, and made a major impact on the Iona College community. His weekly video series Tyvid Tuesday is a mix of vlogging and performing, which as an avid YouTube viewer, I absolutely love. It’s a great combination of Tyler giving his viewers a look into his life while also sharing his talents as a musician.

On March 29th, Tyler premiered his newest original song “Fox” and I could not stop jamming to it. I reached out to Tyler immediately, told him how much I loved the song, and asked if he would be willing to share some of his story with Her Campus. Tyler graciously agreed and I conducted an interview with him about his music career, his dream collaborations, future plans, and so much more.

Check out my interview with Tyler Conroy below!

Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a 24 year-old (today’s my birthday!) snapchat enthusiast singer/songwriter/vlogger trying to live life fearlessly one Taylor Swift song at a time. But really—I’ve been singing since before I could talk, the first music video I made was to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” at the age of 3, and I’ve had a love for the stage since my first show in 2nd grade as Peter Cottontail. I used to make my babysitters write plays for me to put on for my parents when they got home and teachers always told me I was too social for my own good. I’ve seen High School Musical 2 over 84 times and my favorite movie is A Walk to Remember. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and that if you do something for your future every day then you’ll always be one step closer to your dream.

What are you listening to right now?

I’m always listening to anything and everything, I love everything about music. Currently I’ve been JAMMING to The Summer Set’s new album, specifically their track “All My Friends”. But yesterday in my car I did a full performance to Taylor Swift’s “Dear John”, opening up the sunroof to make sure I didn’t smash my hand into the ceiling when I shot my hand up to the sky like a firework

How did you get started with making music? How has YouTube been a part of that?

Music has been a part of my life since I can remember. My Dad’s a musician and some of my first memories are singing with my Dad or having him introduce me to music. When I was 16 I went to my first Taylor Swift concert and I remember just saying to myself “this is what I want to be doing.” I started taking guitar lessons, started putting all the feelings and voices in my head into lyrics and melodies and I haven’t stopped since. YouTube was an outlet for me to share my work but it was also the place where I learned from and discovered artists I admire. I remember being in high school, searching YouTube and discovering artists like Kina Grannis, Boyce Avenue, and Tyler Ward who I still follow religiously today and who continue to inspire and motivate me. They were just like me - they had a dream and used YouTube as an outlet to share their work with the world.

What have been some of your favorite experiences since starting this journey of music and YouTube?

When I was a senior in high school I set this goal for myself that I was going to meet Taylor Swift by the time I graduated. I spent hours watching these “viral” YouTube videos that people made to try and accomplish a goal and I thought to myself, “this is what I need to do to get Taylor’s attention.” I spent about two months planning the video. I was going to re-write her song “Hey Stephen”, change it to “Hey Taylor” and tell a story about why I wanted to meet her. I wrote the song over the course of a few days and recorded it in my bathroom, because Colbie Calliat did the same for her song ‘Bubbly’ and said it had great acoustics so I was just trying to learn for my faves. I spent the following day filming the video all around my high school. My English teacher was kind enough to let me use class time to film a classroom scene and the rest of the footage I didn’t really ask permission, I just kind of went for it---Singing in the cafeteria, standing in the hallway after the bell went off. I even made cardboard cutouts of me and a Taylor Swift doll and had my friends take it around the world with them on their spring break.

One month prior to graduation, I uploaded the video YouTube, posted about it on Twitter and Facebook with a message: “I want to meet Taylor Swift, so I wrote a song about it.” The video spiked to about 10,000 views in one day and I was high-key freaking out. I got a message from a local radio station saying they wanted to interview me on-air about the video. I had tickets to see Taylor Swift on June 5th, 2010—one day after my high school graduation, and was actually taking a bus trip with that same radio station. Graduation day came and no contact from Taylor or her people, even though the video had over 40,000 hits on YouTube. Upon handing me my diploma, the town representative said “Sorry I’m not Taylor Swift.”

After the ceremony, my friend gave me a Fearless blanket as good luck for the show and it worked… Upon pulling into Gillette Stadium they called me to the front of the bus to inform me that Taylor had seen the video and wanted to meet me, ASAP. They rushed me off the bus and backstage where I ran into Justin Bieber, her parents, and her band mates. Everything was happening so fast and I didn’t know whether to cry/faint/pass out or all of the above at the same time. Taylor came up to me screaming, “YOU’RE THE BOY WHO MADE ME THE VIDEO!!” To this day, I regret only saying “You have really pretty eyes” because that’s about all I could come up with. She gave me a kiss, her Dad came up to me after saying that she doesn’t just kiss any boy, and I walked back to my seat like it was Christmas morning. Long story short, none of that would have been possible if it wasn’t for YouTube. Flash forward to 2016 and YouTube has helped me meet Taylor Swift two more times since then. In 2012 I wrote a song about how Taylor has helped me “All Too Well” and I ended up meeting her in Club Red, getting her to write “fearless” on an index card so I could get a tattoo of it. In 2014, I put on the first ever Taylor Swift Musical and instead of coming to the event, Swift invited me to her house for a pizza party. If it wasn’t for YouTube, a lot of my dreams would have never come true.

Last month, your new song “Fox” premiered on iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify. How did that song come about and what is your writing process like?

Ahhh, the story of FOX ☺ About a year ago there was this person who I had a crush on, but probably shouldn’t have had a crush on because they’re one of those people who know they’re good looking and everyone thinks they’re good looking and that combination is almost always bad news. I had given this person concert tickets for a show I was working and they ended up not coming to the show, basically standing me up. I was so frustrated that the next day I took to their Instagram page to see what could have been so important that they missed the concert, and I noticed their bio read, “Because everyone loves a fox.” Immediately out loud I said, “Ooo you little FOX!” and this light bulb just exploded in my brain, I dashed to my guitar and within about an hour FOX was born. I had the first verse and chorus finished in about 15 minutes but was stuck with where I wanted the song to go, so I recorded a quick voice memo and went on a run playing what I had so far on repeat. I remember being about a mile into the run and just belting out this bridge and running home so fast so that I wouldn’t forget it and the song basically wrote itself after that.

I love #TyvidTuesday! How did that project start and what about it are you most passionate about?

AHH!! Thank you for loving Tyvid Tuesday! I’ve wanted to do a weekly vlog series since I was 18 but always made excuses for why I didn’t have enough time to do one. Last summer I was taking a shower (where I get all my best ideas) and Tyvid Tuesday just hit me like a bus going 90mph. I jumped out of the shower and began plotting and planning what Tyvid Tuesday would look like. I spent the summer months filming a few videos and mapping out what I wanted to do and ideas just came water-falling into my brain. It’ll be a year in August since I released my first Tyvid Tuesday and looking back, I’m really proud that I’ve kept up with this.

There’s two things that have kept me passionate and motivated about this weekly project. 1) Doing something that I love with my whole heart. I love everything it takes to create a Tyvid Tuesday. I love the brainstorming, the filming, working with other talented creative brains, the late night editing. I love seeing this idea I had in my head become real life. Every Tuesday I feel like I’m watching a new dream of mine become reality and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving that rush. 2) People who watch Tyvid Tuesday. Every Tuesday I’m always scared no one is going to watch this week’s episode or that people are going to hate it. (CC: my friends who receive “freaking out” texts from me all day, every Tuesday like clockwork). But then I start to see the comments people leave, or that people start sharing it, or the snaps I get, and I just start having all the feels. I love that people take time out of their day to watch something I created. It’s like they invite me to be a part of their life for a few minutes once a week and it just makes me feel so happy. Hearing what people think of the videos or that it made them laugh or that they were having the worst day ever until they saw my video fuels this drive that I have to want to keep doing more. I had a woman come up to me at a bar the other night telling me that her friend got her on to watching my videos saying, “I’m a 40 year old woman and I love Tyvid Tuesday!” (low key want that printed on t-shirts). It just made me ridiculously happy!

There’s been people along the way on this Tyvid Tuesday journey who have told me that they think the videos are dumb or that I should focus my energy on other things, but this is what I want to focus my energy on because it’s what I love doing. Bringing entertainment, laughter, love, and Swift into the lives of others makes me the happier than Anna on Coronation Day.

Dream collaboration on YouTube?

I mean, obviously Taylor Swift---but if we’re talking YouTube role models of mine, I think I would pass out/scream/cry if I ever got to do a project with Kurt Hugo Schneider. He’s been a video production role model for me since I was 17 and to have him work on a project with me would be the ultimate goal.

When you’re not making music or producing your YouTube videos, what are some of your other hobbies and interests?

I’m literally working on Tyvid Tuesday every second I’m not at my day job, but when I like to take some time off from it, one of my favorite things to do is to just be with people who love me for me. Going on hikes, driving to Taco Bell, reenacting musicals, or just laying on the couch drinking tea and creeping BAEs on Instagram together—those are always my favorite kind of days.

You’re one of the biggest Taylor Swift fans I know. Do you remember what it was about her that caught your attention when you first became a fan?

I was a sophomore in High School when the bullies in my life started getting physical and when Taylor Swift came on the scene. I remember hearing her music and thinking, “wow—this girl is not much older than me and she is turning things that are happening to her into this beautiful art form”. I wanted to channel that bravery, I wanted to be fearless and live life the way I wanted no matter what anyone thought of me. Seeing her perform live for the first time truly put her on top of the pedestal for me. I loved the connection she made me feel, and even after seeing her 19 times, I still feel that connection every single time.

Besides Taylor, who would you say are some of your biggest influences?

Ed Sheeran. The first time I heard him sing I stumbled across this song “Kiss Me”. I had just had my heart broken for the first time and that song caused me to loudly ugly cry in the silent study room of my college library. His story is just so fascinating. I had the opportunity to meet him in 2012 and told him how inspired I was by his journey and that I was also trying to go down a similar path. He told me, “Play for anyone and everyone who’s willing to sit and listen.” That has stuck with me ever since. And I continue to watch the journey he continues to go on, so inspired (and jealous at his friendship goals with Taylor), and it keeps me motivated to want to play for anyone who will listen. One should never ever compare their journey in life to anyone else’s, but I use that lesson from Ed as a motivation to just keep playing—one Tyvid Tuesday at a time, I know I’ll get to exactly where I want to be.

Tell us about the Taylor Swift: This Is Our Song fan book experience!

AHH THE SWIFT BOOK! (I still can’t believe this is a real thing I get to talk about). I got a text from my friend Jen with a link to the Simon & Schuster contest with the message “You need to be the author of this book.” I spent the next month planning what my contest entry would look like. The ask was for it to be creative and to show why, out of all the Swifties in America, you should be selected as the honorary author. All I could think of was Taylor’s song “Blank Space”, the fact that Simon & Schuster had a blank space, and I wanted my name to be written in. I took to my guitar and just started singing and writing all the reasons why they should pick me, all to the tune of “Blank Space”. I wrote about 4 different version of the parody and landed on one that described three unique ways in which I did something that no other fan had done, all 3 getting the attention of Swift’s team and getting me to meet her as well.

I got the e-mail that I won the contest while I was at work. I didn’t even finish reading the e-mail because I started ugly crying (this is a bad habit of mine) and couldn’t even see my phone. The worst part was, I had to keep it secret until it was announced by Entertainment Weekly (also still can’t believe that was a real thing). When the announcement finally came out and I could tell the world, I’ve never felt more loved by family, friends, and a community. People from all different parts of my life were sending me messages of encouragement, support, excitement, and I barely slept that night because I wanted to make sure I took the time to write a message back to every single person who reached out to me. That’s been the most exciting part so far about all of this, the response from people who are just as excited as I am for all of this to be happening. I think especially for the people who have heard me talk/sing/cry about Taylor Swift for the last 8+ years are just glad to see that I’m finally being almost rewarded for my dedication to her career.

Currently I’m in the process of writing the book’s introduction, planning a 13-part vlog series around the making of the book, and also a book launch event in NYC for the end of October (or as I’ve been calling it, “Swift-Con”).  Lots to do but there’s an amazing team of Swifties who are also helping with the book’s creation and I’m just stoked to be a part of this project.

What can expect from you in the near future?

The future—well, new videos every Tuesday ☺ I have no plans on stopping this anytime soon. I’ve spent the last three months rehearsing for Arena Civic Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening as the role of Moritz and I’m so ready to tell his story and for people to come see the show (playing in Orange, MA April 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, and May 1! #promo). I’m going to be releasing two new original songs & music videos this summer, one at the end of May and one in July. New collabs, a new themed video series, Tyvid Tuesday apparel (yes—it’s coming!), more #AcaTacoBell, and I’m low key really hoping that maybe Jack Falahee will want to go on a date with me.

Where can we find you on social media?

Facebook.com/TylerConroy

Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram: tyvid5

Check out Tyler’s latest video and make sure to subscribe to stay up to date on #TyvidTuesday!

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