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Gallant: A Breakout Star Worth his “Weight in Gold”

Jun 15, 2017 04:00PM ● Published by Nicole Gould

Photo by Hayden "Baby Boy" Belluomini

By Aaron Kilbourne

Christopher Gallant is a musical wunderkind. While other 23-year-old millennials may be graduating college or bouncing around internships, Gallant rides a tidal wave of momentum coming off a 2017 Grammy nomination for best Urban Contemporary Album, for his debut studio album Ology, in a class of nominees that included the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé.

Unapologetically honest, Gallant performs his music with incredible passion filtered through a stunning cavalcade of vocal range and lyrical prowess. His voice slides up, down, and around the musical scale with a flurry of notes that is difficult to even perform a carpool karaoke rendition of while on a daily commute. Listening to the combination of explosive intent and lyrical honesty, flavored with his vocal dexterity, and wrapped up in a refined and silky-smooth R&B experience makes enjoying a Gallant song the musical equivalent of a good sushi roll; skillfully crafted, raw, unique, and addicting.

“The biggest mistake you can make when creating something is, and this can apply to any sort of creative endeavor, is trying to create something you would create as opposed to just creating.” – Gallant

Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, Gallant began writing and creating his own songs after school and was inspired by everything, from ’90s R&B to classic jazz and blues. He attended NYU and took summer classes so he could graduate early, eager to truly begin his musical career. His first online release “If It Hurts” would establish him an online presence and cult following, while 2014’s Zebra EP landed him on Spotify’s viral charts.

Signing to record label Mind of a Genius in 2015 and relocating to L.A., he dove into creating what would become Ology. The first single “Weight in Gold” enjoyed its world premiere on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio show as the introductory entry in the coveted “World’s First” segment. In less than six months, it accumulated over 6.5 million Spotify streams. Gallant would also perform at Coachella 2016 alongside his personal hero Seal where their performance of Seal’s song "Crazy" and Gallant's song "Weight in Gold" was one of the top moments of the two-weekend long festival.

Catch this breakout star and future R&B legend, on Tuesday, June 20th at Merriweather Post Pavilion as part of John Legend’s Darkness and Light Tour. Ticket prices vary. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Photo by Hayden "Baby Boy" Belluomini

 

What first inspired you to become a musician?

I was interested in music from a very young age. I was in choir in middle school and started to write my own songs for fun, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. Music was the way I connected to the rest of the world. It became like a bad habit that just stuck with me and would eventually manifest itself into my first EP. Now that bad habit is my whole life.

What was it like growing up in Columbia and how has that upbringing influenced you as a person, but also as an artist?

Maryland is a beautiful state and I’m proud to be from there. People have a lot of notions about it, but don’t really know what it’s like. Columbia, specifically, has a lot of idyllic woods, hills, and rivers. Honestly, growing up there provided an almost story book childhood for me. It infused me with an appreciation of solitude.

When I moved to NYC for college there was a significant culture shock. I realized how far away from my heart the whole “rat race” lifestyle was. Growing up in Maryland taught me how to feel okay without being in the middle of the hustle and fast-paced living of a big city. That sense of content introspection has definitely become a motif of my music.

You are about to go on tour with John Legend including a stop at Merriweather in Columbia. How does it feel to be doing such a big hometown show with such illustrious company like John Legend?

John and I are alike in so many ways, so it’s great to be able to do this tour with him. Merriweather will be an interesting stop for sure. I always thought I would play it one day. I mean, that is where I graduated high school. Its five minutes down the road from the house I grew up in. It will be a surreal experience and I’m really looking forward to it, probably more than anything else on the tour.

Do you have any favorite spots to perform at in Maryland?

I played a few venues in D.C. and a couple in Baltimore, but never really experienced the nightlife in Maryland. I moved to New York City for college when I was 17 and then to L.A. a few years later, so I never got to go to all the clubs in the Maryland scene. That’s something I’m excited to experience in the near future.

You attended the Grammy’s this year after being nominated for best Urban Contemporary album with your debut album, Ology. What was your reaction when you first heard and what was the experience like actually attending?

It was crazy to hear I was nominated. A friend from Maryland actually let me know first. She works in journalism, so I guess she was able to read it ahead of time. I was in Amsterdam at the time and I was shocked. I frantically checked all the sources I could to make sure it was true. Thrilled is the best word to describe, but at the same time, doesn’t even begin to.

As for actually going, it was a great experience. My parents got to come and see L.A. for the first time. It was like prom and graduation all rolled into one, but way crazier.

About Ology; I’ve read that lyrically it is very confessional for you. You were “Knowingly trying to dig deep.” In trying to dig deep do you ever have a problem of being too self-aware to muse properly?

Yeah it is a problem when you become too self-aware when trying to be creative with anything. I was digging deep into myself and had been for a long time prior to writing for the album so that made it easier to actually write with an open and clear mind. It was very introspective on a human level so it transitioned to music fluidly. My biggest goal is to grow as a person and writing that album helped me do that so I’m glad it turned out so personal.

What was it like sharing your music with others for the first time? When you include very personal themes and lyrics into a song, is it nerve wracking?

It was a hurdle to get over for sure. But, when you don’t expect anyone to listen to it anyway it is easy to get over. You just put the book on the shelf and if people read it, they read it. Once I started writing Ology it was a bit harder because I figured more people would listen, but at some level if I didn’t always want people to hear those personal things I wouldn’t have written them in the first place.

Outside of the stage or the studio are you an emotionally open person or more reserved?

I’m very reserved. I’m not all over the place because that’s just what I’m used to. But, at the same time, when I’m on stage I don’t really feel any different from when I’m alone. It’s like there is glass around the stage. Almost like my performance is somehow not real. Although I think that is good because then I can approach each performance as my true self.

I noticed on twitter you like to tweet lyrics to ’90s/ early ’00s cartoon theme songs. What is your favorite cartoon of that era?

That’s a really hard one because of all the masterpieces of that time period. If I had to pick one, I guess I’d say, The Angry Beavers. That show had the best dialogue and holds up incredibly well today. Every episode was so irrelevant it was played like a one-act that would often get really dark and weird. That was a great show, but everything on Nickelodeon at that time was great. And, half the shows on Cartoon Network at the time were great too.

What’s next for Gallant? Could fans expect another album soon or maybe an EP?

I’ve been focusing on a lot of things. After July, my touring schedule dies down a lot, so I’ll be working on some things towards the end of the year. I have some other ideas in mind I’m saving for later, but nothing I can speak to now.

Today, Arts+Entertainment interview live music R&B Christopher Gallant Merriweather Post Pavilion

 

 

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