At 24 years, Christopher Gallant known simply by his surname Gallant, has in a short space of time progressed from obscurity to being hailed by one Sir Elton John with the on point statement: “he’s going to be huge”. Indeed, he is being mentioned alongside names like Frank Ocean and Weeknd – (not bad company) as one of those new wave artists bringing a fresh and more introspective renannissence R&B. His stock (if it needed improving!) was given another injection after he supported that great Birmingham export Laura Mvula at Somerset House last weekend.
“My show was great yesterday it was fun and awesome supporting Laura Mvula, it was something to be surrounded by all that history in the venue. It was a really short set but I really enjoyed it” he tells me succinctly as Nation spent time with him at the mighty Warner HQ. Dressed simply all in black with a baseball cap (the correct way around), minus any ostentatious bits of bling he is your original anti-star, more comfortable with obscurity rather than popularity. The facts are however that Gallant is destined for anything but obscurity due to some huge cuts coming from his debut album ‘Ology’ which is blessed with tracks elucidating something that can only be called melancholic joy.
Prior to that debut album, ‘Zebra’ (a self-released project) was his first bit of official output in 2014 beautifully displaying his talent and sparking the interest of the music industry and aficionados. It was a project that was somewhere between an EP and an album. It was a debut made astounding by the fact that while Gallant had studied music at University, this was to all intents and purposes his first crack at the whip after a string of bedroom songs that he laughs were, “horrible horrible songs”.
9 tracks including an interlude on ‘Zebra’ hinted at his great song writing and showed off (with all the pomp of a peacock) his amazing vocal range. Hitting those falsetto notes, it was the debut that thousands of artists dream of as critical acclaim was lavished on it and of course Gallant. It was his ability to make every emotion he sought to express, come to raw life; ‘Ibruofen’, ‘If It Hurts and ‘Forfeit’ just three cuts that led to numerous plaudits and the road to ‘success’.
During the process of writing my album ‘Ology’ I kind of was able to breaks things down a lot and jump over a lot of hurdles that were preventing me from opening up to the world.
“I would call it a change of scenery” he states when the subject of success is broached, “it’s just different but I think that I have acclimatised to it really well. It’s definitely a process and it is definitely against what I thought was my nature but during the process of writing my album ‘Ology’ I was able to break things down a lot and jump over a lot of hurdles that were preventing me from opening up to the world.” Evidently pointing to the fact that possibly he is still getting used to this whole media game, Gallant is at first sparing in answering questions preferring to give only what is needed and nothing more.
“My default is to give as little information as possible and I don’t even realise I am doing that. I guess it did not necessarily have to be music but I just happened to have the opportunity to mess around with a microphone at home and that just happened to be my excuse to be really open and honest and to say things that I just would not say to other people or in public”. He adds, “Like I am really close to my parents but I never talk to them about anything that deep – I have always been like that-talking about my feelings is something that I was never great at doing.”
While he concedes that speaking of his ‘emotions’ may be difficult, Gallant still remains a warm individual and as the interview progresses he opens up more, revealing that ‘Ology’ has helped him to explore his natural introversion and his character;
“I have always been the quiet kid but then I have also had the times of being really comfortable and so I had this opportunity to find out what makes me to be super quiet and what makes me super reserved – the difficulties of not really being that open to a bunch of people and I could kind of analyse it break it down to a formula and then just navigate that. It hopefully allows me to see the next situation in a different light – it has opened me up to situations that I thought I was closed off to”.
‘Weight In Gold’ as the lead single spawned numerous remixes and a live duet with Seal; ‘Skipping Stones’ features the totally yummy Jhene Aiko; ‘Myazaki’ sees Gallant borrow some of the lyrics and melody from the 90’s US duo, Groove Theory and their club jam ‘Tell Me’ (1995) – are just some of the number that have seen Ology fly up the charts.
Of course while Gallant has created the memorable lyrics it’s the production ostensibly from the creative grey matter of LA based producer Stint that has been the perfect accompaniment to Gallant’s lyrical prowess. “I heard something of his and I was attracted to the artistry and the way it seemed like he was making music for him as opposed to anyone else” he effusively states, “plus his profile was just very low key like literally there was nothing on him and I thought it was amazing.” Stint allows the album to time travel through genres – we are privy to elements of an Alexander O’Neill like sound of the 80’s to something that sounds like 90’s R&b all while still keeping a foot firmly placed in 2016 contemporary sounds.
Stint and I instantly just clicked and became best friends basically – it was effortless really.
“We are really similar” he smiles when talking about why this has been such a positive working relationship, “we went out together and it was like the most fun I had ever had. Stint and I instantly just clicked and became best friends basically -it was effortless really. That has transferred to the way we work together, playing with each other’s ideas, bouncing off of each other gave me the reins to be really vulnerable and write what I wanted”.
The sum of that collaboration is an album that has been created purely on a simple platform of expression. “There was no clear intention it was just instinct it was ‘this is how I am feeling at the moment’ and I am trying to understand this at this moment in time and this would then bleed into the music.”
Gallant and his falsetto self – look set for an absolutely huge 2017. A coming US wide tour in August is the next juncture in Gallant’s ever increasing busy schedule, “It’s a daunting task” he explains when discussing his first headliner, “it is going to be a 75-minute set and so it will be more than I ever done. There won’t be anything elaborate – it’s not like a dance set so it will be just performing music. My band at any rate are like the best band ever. We have been playing together for a year now and so I am fully confident in getting the musical aspect really polished.”
I want to continue being myself with music that is honest.
With the ever dreaded ‘that’s it’ coming from the lovely but evidently untimely PR, the interview with Gallant has come to an end… but wait – Gallant states “can I get that last question he wanted to ask me?” I feel blessed and duly ask; “what was the last question you had about life that had a profound effect on you?”
“It was the idea that no matter what you do as yourself it will always be you. Sometimes there is a separation with people asking is this something that I would do and would not do and when you get into that type of questioning of yourself you become a caricature of yourself and it is not honest anymore, you are automatically presenting yourself as opposed to being yourself. I want to continue being myself with music that is honest.”