After exploding onto the R&B scene in 2016 with the release of his debut album Ology, Chris Gallant, who uses his last name as his stage moniker, has shown no signs of slowing down.
The Maryland native has been accompanying crooner John Legend on the singer’s Darkness & Light Tour since its inception in May, as the show’s opening act. Gallant, who received a Grammy nomination for Ology, sparked Legend’s interest after performing at a SXSW showcase he hosted earlier in 2016.
“Obviously, he's a figure you can look up to in a very specific way,” he tells VIBE over-the-phone ahead of the duo’s last few shows. They'll be playing in NYC at Madison Square Garden on June 27 and 28. “There aren't too many American artists like him, he's a role model. We seemed like we were on the same page when we first met.”
Gallant says his famous tour mate is a “laid-back” and “polite dude,” whose calm and cool demeanor made him all the more likeable.
“There's so many different stereotypes and expectations that come attached to having a certain amount of notoriety, especially in the field that he's in,” he says of the multi-award winner. “It’s really refreshing to see someone who's like me.”
As for a future collaboration? Gallant shows interest in working with Legend on some tracks of their own. Fans of both singers enjoyed the two-some’s recent performance of Legend’s song “Overload” for Gallant’s video series “In The Room.”
“We did [“Overload”] in L.A., we recorded it, and we just had a really great chemistry,” he explains of the chill-inducing cover. “I was really honored to get the opportunity to go out with him on tour. It’s been fun so far, and hopefully I'll be able to do more stuff with him in the future.”
Traveling the country with one of the biggest names in music did not seem like something Gallant ever dreamed of doing so early in the game. After moving to California after completing his undergraduate degree at NYU, the 25-year-old says he spent a lot of time “sleeping on the floor” while trying to find a way to pursue his musical dreams. Although it was a challenge, it was one he was up for.
“Emotionally and mentally, I was pretty open, and I was definitely ready and receptive to a change of scenery by moving to L.A.,” he explains. While on tour, he enjoyed getting to interact with fans, especially since he did not experience many shows in a tour-like setting growing up.
“I was just honored by how receptive everyone was,” Gallant says of meeting a bevy of music lovers from the U.S. on Legend’s tour. He’ll also travel to Japan and South Korea in July to treat fans to his velvety vocals. “It's weird meeting people who know basically everything that you've broadcasted about yourself, to the point where it's almost like meeting people who could have been your best friends in other dimensions. If I was to sum it up in a word, I would say the whole experience is surreal.”
Fans of the “Weight In Gold” singer’s effortless falsetto have been anxious to know if he has any new tracks on the way. While he’s been making sure to max-and-relax while on the road with Mr. Legend, Gallant assures that he is excited to get back to work after the tour is finished.
“It seems a little redundant to be on tour and then be working on new stuff,” he says. A self-proclaimed “homebody,” Gallant says to keep “balance” during the tour, he spent his time exploring the cities he’s visiting and watching cartoons (he’s a big fan of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe).
“I started working on some stuff at the beginning of the year,” he says of the sound he’s going for with his new musical material. “So far, everything is different [from the vibe of Ology], but it's coming from a very similar sentiment. My values are the same, but there's a lot of different backdrops to everything.”
He also discussed that he is open to working with people outside of the R&B genre after the positive response to the reworked version of his track “Bourbon,” featuring Chicago MC Saba and producer Lophiile.
“[Saba’s] Bucket List Project album was my favorite album of 2016,” he gushed about the rapper and his contributions to the song. “I listened to that album many many times over. For some reason, it spoke to me in a way nothing else was really doing at the time.”
In terms of the journey he’s taken since starting his career, Gallant is humbly surprised, yet thankful. As someone who claims he’s cared a bit too much about what people thought when he first started out, he realized it’s easier to start living for himself. In doing so, the results have been rewarding.
“Everything that matters a lot to you, you don't have to put energy into thinking about it or preserving it or feeding it. That's all natural,” he exclaims. “It's when you really start thinking hard about it, that you start doing things that don't even make sense, and that don't really feed you or serve you. That's when it starts to get a little bit convoluted."
"I think that keeping it simple and doing music for myself helped out and helped me appreciate what I was doing that much more," he continues. "I just really focused on getting myself right. Easier said than done, but I'm a lot closer than I was, pretty much, ever.”