Written by Sahil Bissessur
Gallant is currently on tour, opening for Sufjan Stevens. Gallant is signed to Mind of a Genius record label, which also reps ZHU.
SB: Was the [Weight in Gold] music video completely your idea with the light show in the room?
G: No, not directly. What happened was we were experimenting with a bunch of different ideas and we had shot a bunch of different things. I just knew that it had to be something really really simple and really abstract but not necessarily abstract in a way that kind of disconnected from the vulnerability of the song. So just thinking about that and using that as a jumping off point. We met these guys, Psycho Films, that had just done some work that I happened to look across and see. They kind of took the idea that I had and [did] a crazy treatment around it and we just all fell in love with it.
SB: Was it all shot in one room?
G: Yeah it was in a very small space and we choreographed everything around it. So we just ended up doing a straight through take of the whole thing maybe like 10 times, 20 times and we just made sure that we got the one that really captured what we trying to achieve in the first place.
SB: Is this your first major tour?
G: Yeah, I’ve never even seen a tour bus until like four hours ago.
SB: How did you get discovered by your manager, Jake Udell? Were you sending demos to A&R?
G: No, it was one of things where I released what I released and it was out there and I was going through meeting all of these different people and some of them I kind of vibed with, some of them I didn’t. I had trial periods where I tried doing a business relationship with someone. When it got to Jake, it didn’t feel like there was a lot of business stuff involved. It just felt like, “Yo I have a great idea” and the next day, the idea is done. Things are just getting done and ideas are just constantly popping up. It was a very proactive type of relationship.
SB: Is Jake with Mind of a Genius?
G: No, Jake is with Third Brain Management. David Dan runs Mind of a Genius and he was as influential. I think I met him a little bit before I talked to Jake and he was the same vibe. Very organic, believed in it super wholeheartedly and actually had actions behind the words.
SB: How was working with ZHU on Testarossa Music?
G: It was awesome. He’s extremely talented. I was going to talk about his personality but he’s too mysterious. He’s like a wisp of air. I don’t really like ever see him. I just see a shadow on the wall and then that’s how I know he’s there.
SB: Can you share any info on any upcoming song collaborations or just your work in general?
G: Yeah, I’m working on a body of work that I want to be really honest. I’m putting the finishing touches on everything and making sure it flows and is exactly what I want it to say. I’m doing a lot of one off collaborations with people that I respect. I don’t know if I can say who they are right now but they’re people I’ve listened to for a long time. I’m just honored to even be in the same room as them.
SB: What were you studying when you were at NYU?
G: Music and I was taking classes on whatever I was really interested in at the time. So I took a lot of Japanese and cinema type stuff and really focused on how music and culture related, how it changes, and which influences which at any given period of time.
SB: Has it always been your goal to be a singer? Or is it something you just realized that you were good at and just went with it?
G: Well when I started, it wasn’t good music at all. It was definitely just something that was a hobby and at one point I just decided that I really want to do this every day for a long time. I didn’t necessarily think of it as a career choice. I felt it was just what I had to do.
SB: Why did you leave New York for LA?
G: I got really claustrophobic. During college, it was cool, you got your homies there, it’s a nurturing type of environment. They put you up and make you feel like a king. Then afterwards you see it for what it actually is and to me it felt like prison bars and there was no escape. LA has that choose your own adventure type of vibe where you can alway be wherever you think is going to inspire you the most. Also the psychological feeling of getting into a car to go wherever you want everyday versus getting into a train with a bunch of people that you’re not driving everyday. It gives you a different sense of self. That was really important to me at the time.
SB: Who are you listening to right now?
G: I’m listening to mostly kind of 90s R&B stuff to be honest but my favorite new artist is this girl Nayo. I’ve been listening to her stuff since 2013, just on repeat.
SB: Who would you say your biggest influences are?
G: Mostly 90s R&B. Just ‘cause melodically there’s something about it that I feel might be underappreciated but at the time. Lyrically it had a lot of indie rock, prog rock type of vibes. There’s an honesty and an openness and a stream of consciousness type of flow that goes with it. I admire that a lot. There’s just a blend of a bunch of different stuff.
SB: If you could collaborate with anyone right now, living or dead, who would it be?
G: Oh man… I wish I could just collaborate with everyone. This is a tough question. I don’t wanna put one person on top. I’ve always admired Babyface just because his style is so unique to him and everything that he talks about is just consistent across the board. No one else necessarily has the same timbre and sticks to their message as clearly as he has through the years and I feel that he’s underappreciated.
SB: What’s your favorite remix of Weight in Gold, either released or unreleased?
G: They’re all incredible. A lot of them, even the ones not on the package, I think are absolutely insane. But the Brass Tracks remix, when I heard it for the first time, it just completely fucked me up.
SB: What was the story behind Weight in Gold?
G: I had been working a lot with this guy, STiNT. He did the ones that are out, “Open Up” and “Talking In Your Sleep”. We had written six or seven songs, and on the ninth one I said let’s see if we can do something else that is a little bit further removed. So it started off as something that was really different from the vibe that we had been doing. Even for the choruses, I said fuck it and let me just scream instead of doing falsetto. Then the words just came with the melodies. We just laid it all down and the ending result was wow and the ending result feels genuine and it’s not too different from what we had been doing.
SB: Did you feel that it was difficult to stand out and make a name of yourself?
G: I honestly have no idea. When I really felt it was during the “Zebra – EP” stuff. I moved to LA and I was sleeping on the floor. I didn’t have anything at all. I felt like I shouldn’t worry about trying to please anybody in the industry or try to come off like some tough, hard dude. I’m just gonna say exactly how I’m feeling right now and I have nothing to lose and hopefully, maybe someone will hear it and like it. If not, whatever. I like it. I would like to think that people on the internet at the time just liked the honesty and vulnerability and it was just one song at a time. At the time the song just happened to grow bigger and bigger. I’m totally grateful and thankful.