Gallant Talks ‘Ology’ & Collaborating With Jhene Aiko
Soul knows no age and falsetto has no limits for Christopher Gallant.
In just the past couple months, the alt-R&B singer dropped his debut album Ology, which followed the chart-dominating single “Weight In Gold,” performed with Jhene Aiko at both SXSW festival and Coachella, where he also teamed up with Sufjan Stevens for an impeccable “Purple Rain” tribute to Prince. Despite the non-stop schedule of an emerging barrier-breaking artist, Gallant still finds time to remain humble, play a lot of video games, and even respond to fans on his personal Tumblr page.
I caught up with the Maryland-native to discuss his creative process on Ology, collaborating with Jhene Aiko, and what he thinks is next for the music industry.
How long had you been working on Ology for?
About a year and a half, maybe a little longer. It feels like there wasn’t really a start or ending point.
Tell me about the story behind the album and the album artwork?
I started with the album art looking through photos like I did with the first album artwork. I used a lot of black and white photos from my childhood, very nostalgic, and it was about being in that moment of black and whiteness. So when moving out of that and moving on, I wanted to use a current photo of myself to represent that, and the gold sad face was to represent where I was coming from emotionally at the core and to show a sort of hopeless optimism.
“Weight In Gold” became your first big radio hit. Tell me about how that came about as the single for Ology?
I don’t really know how it came about as the single, but when I was making the album it did feel like that song, in particular, really demonstrated what I was trying to portray with the album in terms of vulnerability. That felt pretty special to me.
Was there anything else on the album that you maybe would have picked as the single if it wasn’t “Weight In Gold?”
No, I’m really bad at that. All the songs on an album I always like are the ones that nobody else likes. I still don’t really know even though it’s been out for a little while now.
You recorded “Skipping Stones” with Jhene Aiko, what was it like working with her?
It was great from the moment we met. It felt like we were both coming from the same place. We’re both super chill. It’s cliche to say, but we’re both very down to earth. She’s from LA and I’m from back east, Maryland to be specific — it was just a very similar vibe. It was very organic, nothing felt forced. We just met because we had the opportunity to meet and it just so happens that it was within the context of what I was working on at that time. It was awesome we got to collaborate on something.
She just released her album with Big Sean TWENTY88. Who do you think you could collaborate with on an entire album?
Oh man, that’s hard. I mean, I would love to work with Sufjan Stevens some more. I’ve always been a big fan of his work, he’s really really inspiring. I haven’t really thought of that before actually. That’s a commitment for sure.
Your falsetto is insane, it reminds me of Sam Smith a little bit, you guys both have two of the craziest voices out right now, Alessia Clara is another one. Do you think this new generation of young artists making real music is going to start a new wave for mainstream music?
I hope so. But maybe not. Either way, I’m just glad anyone is listening in the first place. I’m making music just so I can become a better human. Every time I write down the stuff that I feel but wouldn’t be able to say in real life, it helps me evolve. As long as I keep going in that direction… I’m cool. As far as the industry, I hope more people making music start to share that mantra and it sparks some kind of change in the commercialization of it all. I think it’s already become more democratic. We’re getting there.
When you started making music, who were you inspired by musically versus who are you inspired by now?
It crosses over a lot, but I’m also just inspired by non music stuff. I’m inspired by like video games, taking walks in the woods down an off-beaten trail, and all kinds of other stuff.
What video games?
Oh man, when I grew up it was like PS1 and N64, so I was like a Crash Bandicoot kid. I grew up on Super Smash Bros. I still play all time on like a million different systems. I have a Wii and a PS4 and like two Nintendo DS’s.
Would you ever make music for a video game?
Yeah sure! My real childhood dream, which I don’t tell anyone, was to do cartoon voice-overs. So, I’m sure that fits in there somewhere.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Right now I’m at this coffee shop, drinking some coffee, about to watch some Youtube videos on like video game history or something. I feel like in ten years I’ll probably be doing the same thing, just with different stuff happening outside of the coffee shop. Different emails in my inbox maybe.
Photography – Hayden “Babyboy” Belluomini