I love it when you can tell an artist has been raised well, and comes from a good family. Kudos to all of the mother’s out there who have sons and daughters who create for our pleasure. Gallant has been making music for a number of years and I’ve been with him since day one, but now I’m so thrilled the world is finally able to see and hear the incredible music he brings into our lives.
Having just wrapped up his time at Bluesfest in Byron Bay, and performing a couple of sideshows to-boot, I got to catch up with Gallant and have a good ol’ chit-chat about the past year.
I’m devastated I missed you at Bluesfest this year. How did it all go? Was it everything you hoped it would be?
Yeah, it was amazing. It was really, really cool.
For a lot of die hard Gallant fans, myself included, this trip was a huge deal. It was your first time to Australia. Did it live up to all your expectations?
Yeah, the second that I landed I got it. It feels like home.
I’ve followed you since day and I never thought I’d get to see you perform live, but last year I was travelling in the US and I saw you at Afropunk, which was one of my dream festivals to get to by the way. But more importantly, I got to see your Brooklyn sideshow at the Music Hall as well. I went by myself and I was a hot mess, I mean full on ugly crying; it was the most fulfilling experience. I want to know if you’ve ever been to a concert as a spectator and had that feeling of being complete?
No, not really. Not yet. I haven’t really been to a lot of shows. I’m such a homebody. I don’t get out that much but I’ve always wanted to see Brandi or Toni Braxton, so fulfilling that prophecy would be incredible.
When you hit the festival circuit can you see other artists’ sets, or is it pretty much get in, do your thing, and get out?
Most of the time I get there at the start of the day and I’m like “I’m gonna see A-B-C-D”, but then when it’s all said and done, there’s so much to be done and I miss out on everything. One of these days I’ll do it all.
I obviously see a lot of your videos, but experiencing your show live; there’s no one else like you out there. To me, your body movement is a part of the sheet music you write. I know what it’s like to share that space with you, but when you’re on stage for that hour or so, what’s it like to be in your mind?
It’s pretty relaxing. It’s really cool to have little moments with people in the crowd. Most of the time I look out and I’m seeing my friends. Where I grew up, I had a very eclectic but very specific kind of friend group if that makes sense, and every time I’m at a show it always completely matches, it so it always feels like I’m at home when I’m on stage. It’s a great feeling.
I also noticed that there is a deep love and unison between you and your band. Are they musicians you’ve studied with, or come into contact with over the years, or are they brand new to you?
I’ve been playing with them for almost two years now so it feels like family every time we get on stage together. It really is one of those classic volatile but loving friendships.
What was it like sharing the stage with Sir Elton at the Apple Music Festival?
Surreal doesn’t even cut it. It was crazy. I’d met him before, I saw him at his Vegas residency so to continue that and be able to sing on stage with him during his show, when no one else should be on the stage, it was just crazy. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
I’m listening to new artists all the time and I truly believe you are one of the pioneers of the new wave of R&B, and I can hear your influence on them. So, where are you going to take R&B next?
You know what, I’m not sure? But I’ve just started experimenting and making new things; it might be a while ‘til I come up with a body of work that feels as real as my album did, but I’m excited for the journey and to eventually get to that point.
‘Ology’ was clearly a huge body of work and you were nominated just casually for a Grammy in the company of Beyonce, Rihanna, and Anderson Paak. What is life Gallant!?!?!?!?!?
[laughs] I agree! [laughs] It’s really crazy. I’m so honoured to have had such a crazy year.
When you go back home you’re going to be hitting the road with John Legend, which I think is pretty much two concerts in one. People are so lucky to be able to see you both. What are you most looking forward to when on the road with John?
It’s actually crazy cause I feel like John and I are very similar people. We’ve connected pretty frequently over the past six months, and on a number of levels, so it’s gonna feel really normal; it’s not gonna be a transition, it’s just gonna feel really organic. I’m really looking forward to being on the road.
I speak a few languages, one of them being Italian, and there’s a word which I think resembles you quite well. ‘Galantuomo’ means gentleman and obviously the stem of that word is ‘galant’. What is your idea of being a gentleman?
I think having some level of self awareness, a lot of empathy, an overall feeling of your feet being on the Earth, differentiating reality from delusion, and being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes pretty easily. It covers any other cliché that would fall under the definition of being gallant or a gentleman.
You studied at NYU so do you think your formal training helped take your career to where it is today, or do you think it’s all about luck and timing when it comes to independent artists making it to the big time?
I would lean towards the latter but I think it’s really random. The fact I went to school in New York versus anywhere else, geographically I got something, but for me personally, NYU gave me the perspective I couldn’t have got anywhere else. I wish I had the answer to that question though.
author: Kara Bertoncini