/ Music

Text by Molly Simms. Portrait by Rafael Pulido. Grooming by Elie Maalouf. 07/18/2016


Gallant - Eighty-Nine

On the Instagram account for R&B phenom Gallant, there’s a host of shots of the 24-year-old covering his face glumly, seeming to hide from the camera. He readily admits that he’s not a natural extrovert: “I do like to keep to myself a lot,” he says. But as Gallant amasses more and more attention for his passionate falsetto vocals and his first full-length, Ology, it’ll be increasingly tougher for him to avoid the spotlight. “I’m honored that people are even interested enough to listen in the first place,” he says with characteristic humbleness. “Now that I’m out and doing shows, I feel genuinely excited to be there with these people who have interest in what I’m doing.”

Maryland-born Christopher Gallant had a “low-key” suburban childhood, and while his parents aren’t especially musical (his father’s in real estate, his mother works for the U.S. government), he found himself drawn to songwriting. “I guess it was a hobby that kind of got out of hand, and I didn’t know how to stop,” he says. Raised on ’90s R&B, he rebelled as a teen by dabbling in Japanese pop and alt-rock like My Chemical Romance. He eventually returned to his roots, but with his own spin. “I came back to R&B, pulled different elements from various things I loved and mixed them together.”



That penchant for genre bending came in handy when he was pursuing tour opportunities in fall 2015 and ended up supporting indie-folk superstar Sufjan Stevens on the road. “All the other options seemed a bit cookie cutter,” he says. “But I’d been a fan of Sufjan’s for years—since the first time I heard his song ‘The Dress Looks Nice on You.’ So that opportunity was a no-brainer, because of how much I respected his work, and because it kind of made sense. So it seemed like the obvious choice.”

His first album, Ology (which features a collaboration with the ethereal Jhene Aiko), is a no-holds-barred exploration of his psyche, for better or worse. “I’m terrified for people to hear it,” he says. “I was being honest and vulnerable, and it’s too late to take anything back now. But I think that’s a good thing.”

Gallant’s found that while he may not be naturally outgoing, the connection he makes with his audience brings him out of his shell, night after night. “I’m kind of a loner, and I tend to hang around with people that have known me for years. But I’ve learned that I can connect with people who I don’t have some kind of deep-rooted history with. I realized that people are willing to form a connection to somebody they’ve never met. And seeing people do that through my music is incredible.”