We Finally Caught Up With Gallant, The Singer Behind Our Pick For Best Soul Music Album of 2016
Columbia, Maryland bred R&B singer, Gallant is one of those rare talents that comes around every few years with the potential to change the direction of the genre. I was first introduced to the singer last Summer, shortly after the release of his debut album, Ology, but I was already late considering Gallant had already captured hearts and captivated listeners with his debut EP, Zebra, which was released in 2014.
Every song he’s released has found amazing success, beginning with “If It Hurts”, back in 2014, which got the then independent artist on Spotify’s viral chart. The following year he was signed to Mind of a Genius/Warner Bros. Records. When his major label single, “Weight In Gold” was released, the response was epic, accumulating millions of streams. Gallant would prove to be no one-hit, drop in the bucket soul singer. His full length debut album, was a front to back, back to front, undeniable hit. The album would land the top spot on Parlé Mag’s End of Year Countdown as the Best Soul Music Album of 2016. The album was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Urban Contemporary R&B album category.
Gallant’s talent was noticed by John Legend and he was invited to join Legend on his North American tour earlier this year, which ended at Essence Festival early this Summer. The opportunity helped Gallant introduce himself to thousands of new fans. His showmanship and stop-you-in-your-tracks vocal range won many over, but he continues to take it in stride. A shy, self-proclaimed nerd and gamer at heart, Gallant is clearly just enjoying the ride. With the added benefit of the music providing self-healing and peace, Gallant is finding solace in the journey, while giving us life with his music.
Recently, he launched his “In The Room” Series, which has Gallant join forces with another artist to recreate an amazing song. The series featured Sufjan Stevens, Seal, Jack Garratt, John Legend and Andra Day over 5 episodes.
We caught up with Gallant (finally!) to talk about his debut album, his love for music, and much more. Check out the interview here with the NYU graduate, who loves to build computers, is a self-proclaimed new junkie…
Parlé Mag: What made you choose music as your passion?
Gallant: Honestly music is something I just did as a hobby, just to help me out personally—I was a really shy kid, I just spent a lot of my time up in my room making terrible songs. I decided I was going to really pursue music so I went to New York and I went to college at NYU. But I realized that, that really just wasn’t me so I wrote about it, made a little EP [Zebra]. I put that up on the Internet and I moved to L.A., just so I could wake up every day with trees, up in the valley. I realized that the EP was actually getting listens and I was getting paid from streaming sites so I could survive. From there I started meeting people that I could connect with on a real level and then slowly I realized that that process of writing made me so much more in touch with my reality and it made me think about what I like and what I don’t like and what has been something that I always considered to be a piece of myself and what I clashed with, and I started writing an album about it. And that album really helped me out on a personal and emotional level. That album is Ology and the single is “Weight In Gold”.
Parlé Mag: Why the title Ology?
Gallant: Honestly I just felt like that was the best way to describe the process of making it. It was like you’re putting yourself on a black board and you’re just picking apart everything and analyzing it. But it didn’t really have a beginning or an end. So Ology was really that to me. It’s not really a specialty or a beginning or an ending, it’s just a process.
Parlé Mag: Your voice, I think, can only be compared to maybe Maxwell—
Gallant: I’m a huge Maxwell fan, that’s a huge compliment.
Parlé Mag: Your voice puts you in this different lane, particularly with where music is right now, how hard has the transition been for you trying to push your music in this landscape.
Gallant: It’s a weird one because honestly it’s been very slow and very organic. I’ve been able to do a lot of things, I’ve been able to go around the world doing a lot of shows. I’ve been on 4, 5 tours now. There’s just so much that goes on that not everyone gets to be a part of, so if anything I get to see the impact of not only just creating the music but then performing it and maybe doing it this way versus another way, and what that does just to me as a person. So I’ve really grown as a man. On top of getting to meet audiences that I really get to know on a real level. I meant it when I said it’s like meeting best friends. When people know everything that I put into this album and the lyrics, they know everything about who I am, like for real. So it’s been a really humbling and surreal experience, altogether.
Parlé Mag: Now you mentioned that you’re shy. That shows through on the album cover, since people don’t see your face. To this day people have a hard time figuring out exactly who you are, why did you make that choice with the cover?
Gallant: Well I took that photo almost two years ago. I had that EP [Zebra]that I put in the Internet. I realized that it was just so much whining, like a kid whining. I was stuck with this one emotion and I couldn’t understand everything else that went with that emotion. Being sad… like what does that mean?? So I really wanted to challenge myself to put the pieces of my humanity together by focusing on the human behind one that emotion. So that’s where that album cover idea came from.
Main Image by Hayden “Baby Boy” Belluomini
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