From Stokes to Spotify: Cannon is On the Rise Cannon has found immense success both at Boston College and on Spotify

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ollege is a time for exploration. In the cramped dorm rooms and classrooms of Boston College, lifelong friendships are made. Crazy ideas are hatched in the late hours of the night. Sometimes, by the morning they’re forgotten. But other times, these plans become the beginning of something big. 

Cannon Few knows a few things about turning an idea into a full-blown career. Few, a former Heights contributor and MCAS ’20, has been making waves in the music world this past year. And these waves have reached far beyond the limits of Chestnut Hill, where he first began making music and where he performed Saturday as the opening act at Stokes Set. 

Few met friend and manager Luke Doyle, MCAS ’20, in their freshman year. The two bonded over music, and since then have been working together on Few’s music career. His performance was the culmination of three years of development as an artist. Few, who grew up in South Carolina, grew up with the rich musical traditions of the South—folk, soul, and the like—and started writing and playing music when he was seven years old. 

“The majority of the music that I personally played growing up was with a guitar around the campfire with my family,” Few said.

But it wasn’t until Few arrived at BC that he began to take his music seriously. Few met Doyle one night at a party. Doyle recalled the meeting vividly.

“We met one night out freshman year,” Doyle said. “The music at the party got unplugged or cut off or something, and Cannon—I had never met him before—but he started beatboxing and I freestyle rapped a little bit, and then he freestyled, and then we just exchanged information and started pretty much hanging out from the next day on.”

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he two became fast friends, freestyling together in their Newton dorm rooms after class. Few began writing songs again and sharing them with Doyle and their other friends. Never before had Few considered music as a potential career path, but after friends suggested that he could make a living out of it, Few began to see his hobby in a new light.

Few initially set his sights on hip-hop. He would rap over beats made by a friend in Nashville and upload the resulting tracks to SoundCloud. His earliest single, “Champagne and OJ,” garnered buzz across BC’s campus and beyond, racking up more than 200,000 plays. His friends hyped him up, but it didn’t feel authentic. The limits of the genre and murky implications of being a white rapper began to weigh on him. 

“It started to feel so corny to me, because I was trying to fit myself into this thing […] but there’s all the problems with being a white rapper and what that brings,” Few said. “[I was] losing touch with why I love music.”

Few went back to square one. He pulled out his guitar, which he hadn’t played in a few years, and started writing his own songs and recording demos. It was like returning to his childhood, when he wrote songs and typed up the lyrics on his mom’s computer.

Few’s evolved style still incorporates elements of hip-hop, but it’s defined by a low-key, acoustic sound. “Singer-songwriter based, but heavily hip-hop and R&B driven” is how Few describes his music.

He cites The Beatles as a long-time favorite, and he was introduced to hip-hop through the music of Kid Cudi and Chance the Rapper. And, true to his Southern roots, he’s a fan of folk band The Avett Brothers. All these disparate genres—rock, hip-hop, Americana—mingle and blend in his music. It’s what makes it so distinctive.

Although he restricted himself to just rapping while performing as a hip-hop artist, Few began to experiment with singing once he made the stylistic switch. He signed up for singing lessons through BC’s music department and gradually got more comfortable with his voice. Now, he handily blends laid-back rapping with heartfelt vocals in his songs.

“Since Cannon and I are such good friends, I’m in the studio with him, I’m in all the writing sessions, so I think we have a good relationship where he trusts my opinion,” Doyle said. “I grew up around the music industry, so I have a passion and love for the creative process behind it all as well as the business side.”

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ecause Few is relatively new to making music, he hasn’t settled into a routine approach to songwriting. With “These Walls,” a breezy, introspective track that was his second release on Spotify, it was a spontaneous and all-at-once process.

“For ‘These Walls,’ I was noodling on my guitar, it was raining outside, and I was sitting on my bed, and I just kind of wrote the whole song right there,” Few said. But that normally doesn’t happen. That was kind of a blessing.”

Other times, Few builds off a melody or lyric idea, or experiments with lyrics over a finished beat.

Throughout the songwriting process, Doyle acts as a crucial behind-the-scenes figure who offers support and feedback, not to mention friendship.

“Since Cannon and I are such good friends, I’m in the studio with him, I’m in all the writing sessions, so I think we have a good relationship where he trusts my opinion,” Doyle said. “I grew up around the music industry, so I have a passion and love for the creative process behind it all as well as the business side.”

Doyle’s father, Brian, was a prolific manager in the ’80s and ’90s whose clients included Mariah Carey and John Mellencamp. Now, he focuses on booking talent at a live music venue he owns in Huntington, N.Y., called The Paramount. Through Doyle, Few was able to perform there twice this past summer.

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fter recording several demos, Doyle’s father sent them to contacts he knew in the music industry. The demos garnered interest, especially with Shep Goodman, a music industry veteran who owns a boutique label in Westchester, N.Y., called Dirty Canvas Records, Few said. The summer after their sophomore year, Few and Doyle traveled to New York to meet Goodman. Although he didn’t offer them an official record deal, Goodman introduced the pair to producers who subsequently helped Few record “Water Glass.” The track is a playful, summery love song that began to garner buzz on Spotify.

“We didn’t have any label affiliation or any sort of marketing plan, we just kind of sent it to our friends and said ‘send this to your friends, and your friends’ friends if they like it’ and then it just kind of blew up,” Few explained. “It almost [has] a million streams on Spotify, which is pretty sick.”

To date, the song has 863,258 plays on the streaming platform. Few and Doyle, buoyed by the success of “Water Glass,” realized they could start taking their music careers more seriously. Last summer, the pair booked a series of live performances. Few threw a single release party for “These Walls” at The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y.,, and also opened for Gavin DeGraw, a pop-rock singer songwriter, there. 

Few tries to preserve the flavor of the recorded tracks when he performs live by combining acoustic and digital elements. He sings and is accompanied by guitar as well as MIDI keys and a pre-recorded track played over speakers.

“We’re using the recorded sounds with the live sounds to make it sound like the recording,” Few said.

Few has released two of his own singles—”Water Glass” and “These Walls”—in addition to a feature verse on Peyton List’s single “Don’t Cry.” Few ended up on the former Disney star’s song by pure chance. List, who is best known for her role as Emma Ross in Jessie, is signed to Dirty Canvas records. Additionally, Goodman manages Few with Doyle, meaning Goodman has a continuous interest in furthering Few’s exposure. Few happened to be in the studio at Dirty Canvas when List called Goodman and asked for an artist to feature on “Don’t Cry.” Goodman suggested Few and List, desperate for anyone, hastily agreed. 

“Peyton wants a feature, we gotta do it now, this is your only shot!” Goodman shouted at him as soon as he hung up, Few recounted with a laugh. 

Few whipped up the verse in an hour and Goodman sent it to List. Fortunately, she liked it, and Few went back into the studio to polish it up.

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he music video for “Don’t Cry” features scenes of List decked out in glamorous, 1950s-inspired ensembles. When Few’s verse begins, images of him lip-syncing appear. Few was supposed to fly out to Los Angeles to film the video with List, but family circumstances interfered. The two didn’t even meet during the creation of the video. List’s part was filmed in Joshua Tree, while Few’s part was filmed on Long Island. 

The process of shooting Few’s own lyric video for “These Walls” was a little more DIY. Far from the slick aesthetic of the “Don’t Cry” video, Few and Boyle decided to embrace the unpolished, bootstraps mentality that’s an essential aspect of Few’s identity as an artist.

The pair had plans to enlist a friend to film the video, but they kept getting let down, so they decided to take a stab at it themselves. They found an old camcorder in Boyle’s basement that they agreed lent a vintage, homey vibe to the video. Then, the duo chose the rooftop of a friend’s apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan as the setting. The original plan was to record a live session of “These Walls.” When Few looked at the footage of him and his friends setting up their instruments and hanging out between takes, though, he realized the footage worked well with the recorded audio. The shabby charm perfectly encapsulated his laid-back philosophy.

Actually putting the video together was another adventure. Few and Doyle had to spend hours on the phone with the company that made the specific adapter that would allow them to transfer the footage onto a computer. And Few edited the footage himself.

“I cooped myself up in my sister’s apartment over the summer for, like, three days and learned how to use Premiere Pro,” Few said. 

Few has released two of his own singles—”Water Glass” and “These Walls”—in addition to a feature verse on Peyton List’s single “Don’t Cry.” Few ended up on the former Disney star’s song by pure chance. List, who is best known for her role as Emma Ross in Jessie, is signed to Dirty Canvas records. Additionally, Goodman manages Few with Doyle, meaning Goodman has a continuous interest in furthering Few’s exposure. Few happened to be in the studio at Dirty Canvas when List called Goodman and asked for an artist to feature on “Don’t Cry.” Goodman suggested Few and List, desperate for anyone, hastily agreed. 

Few admits that it’s tempting to run with his success and drop out of BC. Juggling schoolwork and a burgeoning music career isn’t easy, not to mention the constant social media presence that modern artists must maintain. Along with a professional website, Few has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

“With school and everything, it’s difficult. You can see my Instagram right now, over the summer [I was] posting almost every day, and now that school starts it’s like I never post,” Few said.

But Few, with some convincing from his parents, has decided to stick it out and spend his remaining eight months at BC devising a post-graduation plan for him and Doyle.

“If I sign to a record label now, I don’t have any leverage in terms of formulating a deal,” Few said. “I don’t want to be taken advantage of in that way.”

Instead, he’s biding his time, focusing on building his fanbase while working with Doyle to expand their company, Over Easy Music. They initially created the company as a de facto record label to release Few’s music, but they’ve been considering expanding it. 

Doyle plans on continuing to work as Few’s manager after they graduate. Although he occasionally makes an appearance in the spotlight, he’s happy leaving the performance side to Few.

“I know my impact, and I think Cannon knows the impact, and that’s really all I care about. I don’t really mind not having the spotlight,” said Doyle.

“I want to get the BC community more involved with it, and I also want to be more involved with the BC community through my music,” Few said. “I want to pay homage. This is how it all started, where it all started.”

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s a senior, Few looks back on his development as an artist with disbelief. He got his first taste of performing live through BC’s Music Guild, where he also befriended Tanner Kellan, MCAS ’20, who now accompanies Few on guitar at almost all of his live performances. 

“I just remember this moment,” Few said. “The guy was helping me set up and he was saying, ‘Yeah, you know you’ve got your monitor here, blah blah blah, but I’m sure you’ve performed in front of people.’ And I was sitting there like, ‘Nope, never done it before!’”

Only two years ago, Few was terrified to perform in front of a small crowd in Hillside Cafe. Last summer, he entertained a large audience at the Gavin DeGraw show, and at Stokes Set he proved to be just as engaging live as he is over the speakers. In between songs, he delivered anecdotes and implored the crowd to follow his social media accounts.

As the opening act, he got a chance to play “Water Glass” and “These Walls,” as well as debut a number of unreleased songs. “Water Glass” was the undeniable star of the set. Few let the crowd sing during the chorus, and sure enough, they knew every word. Few was approached a few weeks ago by Kate Minorini, the president of Campus Activities Board and MCAS ’20, to perform and immediately agreed. The concert was an opportunity for Few to not only introduce himself to a wider audience, but to meld two parts of his identity—the free-spirited New York City musician with the Boston College English major. 

“I want to get the BC community more involved with it, and I also want to be more involved with the BC community through my music,” Few said. “I want to pay homage. This is how it all started, where it all started.”

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor

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