Featured in ColorBloc Magazine ISS06, 2020.
Destin Conrad has been doing his thing for a while. From his first vine in 2014 to making his stake in the music world with songs like “Cautious” and “Fraud”, Destin was and still is a standout guy. With a style that is extensive, sometimes dramatic and other times “grandpa chic” as he says, I was able to speak with Destin to review where he is in his life, career, and speak about some of his newest ventures.
Photographer & Set Design Brianna Alysse - Wardrobe stylist Tatiana Wise
How would you define the Destin Conrad brand?
“For my brand, I want to be free. Just free and open. Even within my music, I don’t want to make just one style of genre. I want to experience and create because that’s what life is all about.”
What obstacles do you feel like you've had to overcome throughout the process of making a social media name for yourself?
“Caring about what other people think. Caring about how people have talked about me, just being on the internet. Knowing who I am and what I mean. I still get nervous and scared to be vulnerable without telling everybody everything but I'm still learning.”
What are some of the values you have within yourself that have helped you navigate through the industry?
“My freedom. I cared too much about what people thought about me. Giving them the right to say what they want without it personally affecting who I am. Learning to not seek validation and just learning to live online and do what I do.”
What advice would you give the "younger you" as you navigated your way through your success?
“Stop posting everything. Move in silence. You don’t have to tell everything you are doing. I would tell my younger self to stop caring as much. Stop picking yourself apart. My amazing friends, many of them are older and wiser who help me to learn through their own experiences so I don’t have to go through as many bad ones.”
Everything has its pros and cons. How has being a household name affected you and your family's ability to do normal, everyday things?
“Oh, I do normal things all the time. I love doing everyday things ---it’s what makes me the happiest. Simple things like going to the grocery store, the park, going outside. It’s very rare that I get stopped --- some people just stare. I’m kinda glad I have the kind of energy people don’t just walk up to.”
“One day I’m grandpa chic, other days I can give full drama. I dress based on how I feel. The cozy grandpa/auntie sometimes and the colorful, sparkly, loud guy other times.”
With the connection of social media pressure and mental health being at the forefront of the community, how do you deal with the trials of being a social media influencer?
“Going grocery shopping, hitting the beach, just walking around and biking. Finding things to do that are the most simple. It grounds me and keeps me from feeding into all the social media hype.”
Every great individual has a strong team behind them. Who is your team and how do they help you continue to thrive in the industry?
“My team is my friends. They all really support me and really just get me, understand me. They listen to my new ideas and tell me new stuff they’ve learned. My manager helps me with everyday shit even though he knows he doesn’t have to. All of these people work together to help keep me strong.”
I noticed that you have an extensive array of stylish looks. If you had to put a title to your “looks” what would you name it?
“That’s a hard one because some days I feel different. One day I’m grandpa chic, other days I can give full drama. I dress based on how I feel. The cozy grandpa/auntie sometimes and the
Colorful, sparkly, loud guy other times.”
Are there any other celebrities that helped to inspire your own unique style?
“Oh definitely. I would say Brandy, Brian Mcknight. Michael Jackson, Beyonce; powerhouse vocalists. I feel the 90’s and that era of music inspires me the most. There’s just so many moments from different people. But most of all Brandy, she’s bible.”
I think it's amazing that you are using your influence to bring awareness to an under-represented population. Tell us more about the San Diego Black Queer Housing Fund
“I started feeling very helpless, I wasn’t doing anything. I was donating to many organizations but decided to donate to a small organization and came across the SDBQ housing fund. They were actually helping young queer black folk change their lives. Your living situation is very important, it’s under-looked. I wanted to highlight funds or aid a platform that was avidly helping people. I donate fifty percent of what I earn from the shirts to the fund. Now I feel like I’m really making a difference.”
I see that you are into music. Who are your most recent musical influences?
“Brandy. She is my vocal bible. I’ve recently been listening to Musiq Soulchild and Brian Mcknight as well. That entire era of RnB realness.”
Are there any additional avenues in the arts that you would like to explore that you haven't as of yet?
“Well, I have a new venture of T-shirt making, F.U.C.K Yo System. It’s teaching me how to design and what I actually like as far as clothing. It’s more apparel design. With every drop, I really want to assist in bringing awareness to different organizations. I feel like giving back is what really matters. I want to get back into dancing also. I used to be a part of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and took ballet classes. It was really draining; I know a lot of technical ballet stuff. Just movement. I used to dance all the time and didn’t realize what it was doing for me. So yeah, I definitely want to get back into those things.”
We’re most familiar with “Cautious”; it has a spacey, ethereal vibe to it which I’m definitely feeling. What was the process in creating the song and video?
“I wrote this song from the perspective of talking to someone who was scared to be with me or talk to me. I wrote it from their perspective. A lover who didn’t know what to do with their feelings. I made it quick in like forty-five mins.”
Who/what inspired this song?
“I was with someone who was apprehensive. Cautious. Just holding back, I felt that energy and decided to write about how I felt about dealing with it.”
I’m sure you have new music on the way. Can you give us a hint as to what it will be about or sound like?
“It’s very different from everything else I have out. It’s a little more cultured. I feel like people aren’t expecting that. I feel like everything I have is real earthy. I have cute songs, but these are more ratchet. “Fraud” featuring Ambre is my latest song but it's gonna be very different from that too. If I have my way, it’ll be done in September, early October.”
What is your music making process?
“It’s all in what I choose to wear. Whatever I'm feeling. If I'm feeling angry --- I'm making something salty. If I'm sad I'll make some sad ass music. There is not really a process. I make what I feel at the time.”