Born in Chicago, the singer-songwriter Conor Matthews has steadily climbed the ladder to music industry success since packing up and moving to the songwriting capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee.

After gaining traction with a series of online covers and taking up songwriting while still in high school, Matthews’ achieved his first break at 19 when his deft talent for raw, ripped-from-his-heart lyrics caught the attention of country superstar Keith Urban who signed the young singer to a publishing deal.

His career then took an unexpected twist, with Matthews recalibrating his goals. After leaving behind country songwriting and southern rock, he rebranded himself as a not just a writer but a full-fledged artist, initially inspired by Justin Timberlake. The gamble paid off: this fall, Matthews became the first artist signed to Altadena, a music company in partnership with Warner Records which was founded by the late songwriter busbee.

After recently releasing a series of songs thanks to the partnership including (the cold weather anthem “Snowed In”), Matthews just put the finishing touches on a new four-song EP. Dubbed Balloons, it features Matthews at his best: exploring tender themes of both love and heartbreak.

In celebration of Balloons, CHILLED caught up with Matthews about how he kicks back in his downtime, his home bar and an undying love of Chartreuse: “A bartender in Nashville introduced me to it… I love the taste.”

Chillin' with Conor Matthews

Chillin’ with Conor Matthews

Tell us a bit about the projects you are working on.

I’ve got my Balloons EP out on February 7th. Other than that, I’m just working on the next season of music! It’s a cross between emotional R&B vocals, authentic storytelling, with a little bit of rock edge. It sounds like raw pop.

With your busy schedule, what do you like to do with your downtime?

Honestly my favorite thing in the world is just posting up with some friends over some drinks or taking a walk.

When you go out to eat, where do you like to dine?

I love going to steak houses. A good ribeye or steak sandwich is my go-to!

What types of drinks do you order when out?

I’ll always get a Knob Creek or a glass of Chartreuse. With Chartreuse, a bartender in Nashville introduced me to it when I was talking to him about absinthe. I love the taste and I also love the buzz it gives you – just hits different.

Chillin' with Conor Matthews

Chillin’ with Conor Matthews

Do you prepare drinks at home?

I’ve got a bar cart and I’m always making new cocktails for my friends. It’s a mini passion of mine. I’m gonna open a bar someday and name it after (my friend) squad.

Do you own a home bar?

I do have a home bar!  It’s stocked with Chartreuse, Knob Creek, Jefferson’s Ocean Reserve, Tito’s, Angel’s Envy, Hendricks, and more.

What is your favorite cocktail?

I love making Old Fashioneds and Manhattans but got a few specialty cocktails I make too.