We get chatting to LA soul-pop crusader Gallant about his new album and more.
LA-based Gallant is set to make huge waves this year as his freshly dropped debut album Ology begins to get the air time it deserves. The record, which was released last week, cements what we already suspected about the one-man singer-songwriter: he’s got talent to rival the Frank Oceans off the world when it comes to crafting soulful, modern pop with a cerebral, nu-R’n’B flavour.
After signing to Mind of a Genius and receiving a slew of critical acclaim from the music press, Gallant spent most of last year holed up in an LA studio – a few sell-out performances with Sufjan Stevens in the summer of 2015 aside – working hard on Ology. That attention to detail was time well spent, as over the last few months we’ve seen a trickle of strong, intelligently produced releases from the record including “Bourbon” and, of course, “Weight In Gold”: the song that won Gallant fans in the likes of Elton John, Moby, and Zane Lowe (not a bad fanbase, ey?). So, as you get to grips with the soaring vocals and delicate lyricism of Ology, read on as we talk to Gallant about collaborating with Sufjan Stevens, growing as a human, and the creative pleasures of being alone.
How would you describe your sound? What makes it unique?
I think it’s just a huge blend of a bunch of different things I like— I feel like I’m coming from a completely honest place while I’m writing, so I guess the only thing that truly makes it unique is the fact that there’s no other ‘me’ on the planet.
Where does the name Gallant come from?
It’s my actual family name— so no real thought or backstory or anything, it’s just what I was born with.
Talk to us about your series, ‘In The Room’.
I mean, there are a ton of artists that I’ve just really been shaped by— and as I was starting to cross paths with some of these legends I would just think “man I wish there was a way I could show them how important they’ve been in my life”… obviously I was originally just thinking of doing a cover or writing a letter or something— but somehow we actually ended up collaborating, just completely surreal for me. Absolutely honored.
And what about working with Sufjan Stevens?
It was incredible— he’s such a great guy. I think the first thing of his I heard was “The Dress Looks Nice on You” but I heard it years after it came out and I felt so embarrassed that I hadn’t digested his complete discography sooner. I can’t believe he agreed to let me on his tour and the fact that we’ve actually been able to keep in touch and work together on In the Room is nuts.
What can we expect from Ology?
I hope people will say they hear a lot of honesty… I really tried to push myself to the point where the idea of someone listening to the music, mainly the lyrics, genuinely made me uncomfortable. If any of that cuts through or means anything to anyone it will have been worth it.
What was the album making process like?
I worked with STiNT on basically the whole album minus a few cuts…and the process overall was safe and familiar as we pretty much immediately became actual homies and felt completely comfortable letting our guards down and just experimenting with a ton of influences and not worrying about pleasing anyone who wasn’t in the room.
Your favourite songs from the record and why?
There are a few songs I think— probably “Shotgun”, “Chandra”, and “Miyazaki” in particular… probably also the most different-from-each-other songs on the album.
Who really inspires you, music wise?
What really inspires me is just being alone and having no one around to try to please or compromise with— just having the freedom to lower all my inhibitions or fear of judgment and say whatever it is I really want to say.
When did you first know you wanted to be a musician?
I guess when I was in junior high and writing music was just my way of, like, sharing secrets or my emotions or whatever. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, more like a bad habit. What should we be listening to (but probably haven’t head yet)?
Really into the new song by Nicki & The Dove— “So Much it Hurts”. What’s the next move for you?
I’m relieved to be putting out this album…I hope people connect with it. Going to be doing some tours in the states and then a bit more international travel. Looking forward to learning more and growing more as a human.