Rising star Gallant talks about the early years, his new LP, and pushing for embarrassment

interview rising rb star gallant on debut album ology
Sarah Midkiff/Digital Trends

“There were all these rules that I didn’t understand.”

Disillusioned with the New York music scene, former NYU student Chris Gallant moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to pursue his music out west. He refused to let the confines and expectations of others stifle his creativity.

Now a rising R&B star, Gallant (as he’s now known professionally) grew up in suburban Maryland. A self-professed introvert and private person, he was first drawn to music as a teenager, looking for a way to express his emotions and inner thoughts. “My parents worked a lot and I would come home from school and have nothing to do,” he says, citing nineties R&B artists like Baby Face, Dione Ward, and Toni Braxton among his early influences.

Following his well-received EP, Zebra, Gallant released his stunning debut full-length album, Ologyin April, catching the attention of artists like Elton John and Seal. Now touring to increasingly bigger crowds, he’s put a high priority on challenging himself to new limits, personally and artistically. Digital Trends sat down with Gallant recently to chat about his music, old and new, his real-world inspirations, and more.

DT: Do you remember any of the first songs that you wrote?

Gallant: Oh yeah for sure! I’m almost scared to go into it. It was really bad, but at the same time, it was as honest as I could possibly be. If you look at me as a 13-year-old, the anger and abrasiveness that I had mixed with the stuff that I was writing. It totally mirrors my closed-off personality now, versus me just completely letting everyone go lyrically. I feel like that stayed with me, that separation. I grew to get used to it.

When I was in middle school trying to express myself, everyone has that period where they’re filled with all this shit and they don’t really know what to say … I just gravitated towards using a USB mic on my computer and writing songs, which were horrible. It was just me vomiting out everything that was locked inside, and I guess it was just like a bad habit, you never stop doing it.

I noticed a marked difference between Zebra and Ology. Was there anything in particular that contributed to that, or more an evolution in your writing overtime?

I went to NYU, I was there for a while, and while I was working on different projects, it became clear that the industry was a very specific kind of thing. The stuff that I was writing on Zebra was a result of me rebelling against that whole culture. There was stuff on that EP that I wrote that I played for my team members in New York, and they were like, “Umm…that’s cool but if you do that, you have to do this …” I guess Zebra is a bit more to the point, brooding, very much about how I was feeling. The new album, Ology, is a bit more questioning, not letting myself get away with sticking to one thing, more digging deep and trying to analyze every emotion and every reaction.

I know I’m really pushing myself to the utmost limit of vulnerability. I feel like that in itself is a message that I can stand on.

There’s stuff on the (new) album that I listen back and think, “Damn, this is really frail and not masculine at all.” And that excites me because I know I’m really pushing myself to the utmost limit of vulnerability. I feel like that in itself is a message that I can stand on.

So much of music is about everything else. Musicians don’t live in a vacuum where they make music only inspired by other music. What inspires you that isn’t music?

Honestly, I’m glad you said that because literally music inspires me a little bit, but it’s probably only 10 percent. Every time someone asks me, “Oh what musicians (inspire you)” I always say that it’s music but it’s really going outside, taking walks on trails, riding bikes with friends, going to the cul-de-sac, sliding down a mountain when it’s a blizzard outside, looking at the sky at night … being up late at night and being awake and not able to sleep, you just hear the silence as it gets louder in your head. It’s that stuff. It’s so powerful to me. And music is cool, but I could easily have seen myself gravitate towards many other art forms. I’m sure it would have been the same. I would never hold music above everything else.

Talk to me about the In the Room series.

As I was doing shows for the EP and starting to write new stuff, I was getting these opportunities to cross paths with artists that I really admired and really inspired me. Going on tour with Sufjan [Stevens] was the first time where I was in close proximity with these people which was incredible. I grew up listening to them and drew a lot of inspiration from them. Sufjan did the first one and it was such a natural thing, and then every opportunity I had to cross paths I just threw it out there as a way for me to pay tribute. I can’t believe that the artists that we got agreed because, truly, they are my biggest inspirations. Completely surreal to be standing next to them.

Gallant Interview
Sarah Midkiff/Digital Trends
Sarah Midkiff/Digital Trends

Gallant is currently on tour with fellow Mind of a Genius label-mate, Zhu, to promote Ology. As he performs for larger and more prestigious audiences, including his recent television debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the creative powerhouse maintains the same driven perspective that brought him this far.

“I really pushed myself and dug deep. I guess the thing that I took away [from making the album] was a very specific feeling of embarrassment which I’m going to continue to push for. I know there’s still room to grow, there’s more I can reveal, more that I can find out.”


Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.
Digital Trends Live

Cryptocurrency investor Ian Balina sees a comeback for cryptocurrency in 2019

We chatted with crypto investor Ian Balina on what the future is for cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin. He also gave us three things to look for when we are investing our own money.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.

‘Fortnite’ streamer reportedly arrested after abusing wife while on Twitch

An Australian Fortnite streamer who goes by the name MrDeathMoth abused his pregnant wife while he was live on Twitch. An anonymous cybersecurity expert took matters into his own hands, resulting in the arrest of the streamer.

Block out the sun and drown out the haters with Bose’s new AR sunglasses

Bose has announced its quirkiest listening device yet, a pair of headphone-integrated sunglasses that allow you to meander the brightest places with your favorite tunes in tow. Called the Frames, the glasses will sport 3.5 hours of battery.
Home Theater

Spotify Wrapped reveals rad facts about your musical tastes and habits

The website may be a bit tough to find at first, but Spotify Wrapped tells you awesome facts about your year in listening. From how many minutes you spent jamming out to your top artists, and beyond, there's a lot to dig into.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.

From Paul McCartney to Mariah Carey, this is the best holiday music

Whether you're a fan of classic jazz standards or modern R&B masterpieces, there's something for everyone on our playlist of the best holiday music. Pour some eggnog and curl up by the fire, this one is sure to get you in the holiday…
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.

The best new music this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, Eddie Palmieri, and Jacob Collier.

Apple Music may sign up more exclusive artists with purchase of Platoon

Apple purchased London-based Platoon, which is a startup that helps independent musicians get discovered by major labels. The acquisition may help Apple Music sign up more exclusive artists.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.

Jam out in style with the 25 best playlists on Spotify

Music is the world's most potent drug, and the best playlists on Spotify will make you catch feelings. We've scoured the service for its top collections, and brought them together in one place -- for you.