In 2013, when Athens-based musician Connor Pledger was recording a cover of a Ryan Adams song for Youtube, he had no idea that it would lead to a new life in Los Angeles.
The invitation to Los Angeles came through an e-mail on Youtube. Pledger’s initial response to his big break was skepticism. “I was kind of like, ‘this sounds really sketchy,’” said Pledger. It was only after receiving a formal e-mail and researching the company that Pledger accepted the flight to California.
A week after receiving the e-mail, Pledger was recording at Capitol Records. The break offered Pledger’s music exposure to some major industry names. Though the initial deal fell through, the connections Pledger had forged offered a new opportunity. Pledger is currently signed to Warner/Chappell Music as a songwriter.
“I moved out to L.A. in January,” said Pledger. “I’ve been writing since I’ve got there and in-between writing, playing shows and touring.” Pledger is currently on tour with Paul Pfau.
Pledger acknowledges the impact touring has on his songwriting. “There are a few tracks that I have that are titled after states,” said Pledger. “One of the songs that I have is called ‘California.’ And I wrote it a few years ago about the idea of hitchhiking to California one day. When I lived in Georgia, I always wanted to go back west at some point in my life. I had no clue it would happen so soon.” Now able to call Los Angeles home, the song “California” has added resonance for Pledger.
While Pledger finds inspiration in exploring the scenic diversity of California, he recognizes having difficulty creating community in the expansive city. “In Los Angeles, you’re lucky to see the same person twice that you’ve already met,” said Pledger. “I miss having that strong, tight community that I had there. Athens is small, but because it’s small it’s easy to dive into the culture there.”
For Pledger, family is another close tie to Georgia. In spite of his childhood tendency to steal his father’s guitar and attempt an open-tuning version of “Stairway to Heaven,” Pledger’s family has always been supportive. Many other musical memories color Pledger’s childhood. From a cool, older cousin in a band to an elementary school music teacher who allowed him to play the instruments after school, music has always taken on a major role in his life.
Though many things have changed since childhood, Pledger continues to cite Robert Plant as a major musical influence. He also credits Chris Cornell and The Milk Carton Kids alongside Led Zeppelin as inspirations for a distinctive sound.
Pledger’s personal sound is soulful, warm and thrives on audience interaction. “‘Take Me Back’ has been my favorite song to perform for a long time,” he said. “I really like connecting with the audience and that song really allows that, because I can have them come in and sing on parts. It really creates a moment.”
Creating music makes living in the moment possible for Pledger. “The goal is to be happy in life and to enjoy life, to be able to stay in the moment and live,” said Pledger. “I think with certain jobs you’re not allowed that. Music, for me, it really does allow it.”
Pledger also believes that music goes beyond creating a moment into both communication and identity. “For me, the most rewarding part [of music] is being able to feel whole, to feel human and to feel the connection that music gives everybody,” said Pledger. “Music is a language, you know? And if you can speak it, you can speak music to anybody and they understand.”
As to whether or not everyone understands his music, Pledger has a healthy outlook. “At the end of the day, you’re really just putting yourself out there on a 10 song piece of plastic and hoping someone enjoys it,” said Pledger. Pledger’s 10 song pieces of plastic are available on connorpledger.com along with tour information and other merchandise.