Gallant on His Move to Los Angeles: “I Really Like the Trees”

April 17, 2018

Read the full interview on LAWeekly.com!

For someone who doesn’t love attention, Gallant is sure doing a hell of a job attracting it. Looking up the word “gallant” in the dictionary yields two definitions: “brave, heroic” and ”giving special attention and respect to women; chivalrous.” Gallant embodies all of this — and more.

Hailing from Maryland, the R&B singer-songwriter is someone who lets his talent speak for itself. One spin of Weight in Gold and listeners fall in love with his intimacy, vulnerability, vitality and, most important, his soul. With a falsetto to move mountains and a personality to match, real name Christopher Gallant is offering something fresh that’s rooted in traditional R&B.

At just 26 years old, Gallant is a proud introvert; sitting around playing video games and writing music are some of his favorite pastimes. While he holds onto a fine appreciation of the ’90s and early 2000s, his unique sound comes equipped with a smoothed-out, electronic, almost eclectic vibe with a nod to the future.

“I guess it’s a kind of DIY, choose-your-own-adventure style of R&B,” he says. “It’s not really anything that’s planned out. It’s just kind of a melting pot of a bunch of my different influences into whatever the sound happens to be at that moment.”

He’s now based in sunny Los Angeles. It’s not only the city that drew him but also the time he spent away from the city.

“I’m originally from Columbia, Maryland, so just suburban vibes all around,” he says. “But then I went to college up in New York, so that was kind of my first taste of the city because we really didn’t go to D.C. or anything like that. Then I moved to L.A. because I really wasn’t feeling the city. You had to put on this kind of phony exterior, and I wasn’t able to do that and sustain it. So I moved to L.A. because I really like the trees. I isolate a lot. I spend a lot of time alone. I wanted to be connected to the world and so L.A. was a chimera of those two different worlds. You could kind of tuck yourself up in the Valley and just do that kind of thing, but at the same time you can make a 45-minute drive and be right in the thick of culture.”

This bring up the question, how does one isolate yet live out this life of an R&B star?

“I don’t know, to be honest,” he says with a laugh. “It doesn’t really make sense. It’s similar to when I perform: It’s really high-energy, but I’m not high-energy. Like I’m here today, and I’m just chilling. It’s just a means of expression. Usually that comes from keeping a ton of shit inside, and that’s probably why the music sounds the way it sounds. That’s just the way it is.”

And with 101,000 followers on Instagram alone, Gallant still considers his fan base to be “super small and compact.”

“Well, they’re homies, you know,” he says. “It’s not like everybody and their aunt is walking around with two drinks in their hand trying to get onstage. We come from the same place, I feel like — just mentally. It’s actually really nice just to spend time and talk with all the fans.”

With the amount of fan interaction he has daily, it’s hard to wonder if he had a hard time choosing the best moment.

“It keeps getting better each time, honestly,” he says. “I think most recently, I did this thing at YouTube in New York where I was just playing my new video for ‘Gentleman’ for like 50 fans. And I was having a conversation with them all after. And some dude — he was like a really quiet dude, very similar to me — and he was just like, ‘You say things that I wish I could say out loud.’ And that’s kind of what I wanted to do. Because I wasn’t going to release my first batch of songs, but I just put it online because I thought, ‘Fuck it. Why not?’ But I didn’t want anybody to hear that shit. It kind of affirms my belief that if I am afraid to share something that I’m saying, then what’s waiting on the other side of that fear is a really, really high reward.”

That reward came in the form of a Grammy nomination for his 2016 debut effort, Ology.

“I didn’t think it was true, so I had to double check and triple check,” he says. “And then I found out it was true. It was great because I was on tour with my band. It was tough because, you know, we had toured for a year before the album came out. And then after the album came out, and everything happened with it response-wise, it was kind of just a quick fizzling out and we were still on tour. And it was really tough to maintain that energy while being like, ‘Look at me, look at me!’ And a lot of my band played on the record so I got to say, ‘Yo, we got this nomination.’ It was a really special moment.”

Proving he can still do better, Gallant also takes the time needed to perfect his craft. After a much-needed reset button, he returns to unleash the captivating, powerful visual for “Gentleman.” Warning: You may want to watch this at home (NSFW), as he describes it as his rendition of a “’90s bedroom jam.”

“It was a record I’ve always wanted to make and a video I’ve always wanted to make,” he says. “I tried to write that song many times and there was this EP I put out — there was this song ‘Please’ on it and this song ‘Forfeit’ on it. And then on my album, there is this song ‘Miyazaki’ and this song ‘Open Up.’ And I kind of just kept tweaking it and thinking about it, and what I really needed to do was just go backward and write something that didn’t have a lot of thought — and was just raw and off the top. And I finally just got the opportunity to do that.

“The video is something that I’ve always wanted to make, just because I’m such a fan of Seal and his album covers,” he adds. “I wanted to try and show black excellence but at the same time show male vulnerability, and kind of challenge that whole idea of always objectifying females for videos. It just so happened that I had a really close relationship with a brilliant director [Sasha Samsonova], so we together just executed the vision that I’ve always had.”

While the positive takeaways from his lyrics vary by record, there’s one underlying message listeners can apply to their own lives.

“A lot of people just tell me to quit on a daily basis,” he says. “So if anything, I would say just do whatever the fuck you want to do. And don’t worry about it.”

That’s exactly what Gallant is doing. With a clear head on his shoulders, he reveals his end goal: “I just want to be the dude that I wanted to grow up into when I was 6 years old. That’s it.”

As fans wait for any hints of Gallant’s forthcoming album, he keeps things exclusive to the fans who come out to see him perform, creating a personable experience in real time that is not to be forgotten.

Specifically, at his last sold-out show at Sawdust Festival, an Instagram post revealed how special it was to share these coveted moments in person.

“Oh yeah, I shared a lot!” he says. “But it’s special to the people that were in the room. If you come to one of my shows on tour then…”

But don’t worry. Gallant’s upcoming L.A. show is just around the corner. According to him, it will be a night like no other.

“I think this time around, I’m going to really share a lot of anecdotes,” he says. “I didn’t really get to do that last time. I was more focused on kind of vomiting out all the creative stuff that I wanted to just lay onstage. This time, I’m going to challenge myself to really open up a lot more, just to mirror what I’ve been able to do in my personal life. Hopefully they get to know me better as a human being.”

Gallant lists Brandy as both his most played artist on his phone and his dream collab. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before they cross paths.

Gallant performs at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Cemetery on Tuesday, April 17, at 8 p.m.

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