Championed by tastemaking DJ Zane Lowe, dubstep wizard Skrillex and none other than Sir Elton John, Christopher Gallant surely has the most impressive star-studded fan base out of all this year’s hotly-tipped alt-R&B vocalists.
It’s little wonder that the 23-year-old, who also recently shared the stage with Sufjan Stevens for an impromptu cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” has been wowing such A-list talent. Indeed, with a glorious falsetto that evokes Prince at his finest, the man known simply as Gallant will no doubt add to his list of celebrity followers as he continues to make waves over the course of 2016.
Inspired by artists as diverse as Jackie Wilson, Radiohead and Babyface, the Washington-born, Columbia-raised vocalist began writing songs as a form of catharsis during middle school. But after graduating with a music degree at New York University, Gallant was told he was too “weird” a lyricist to achieve his behind-the-scenes hit-making ambitions.
Undeterred, Gallant relocated to Los Angeles and started performing his material instead, attracting the attention of Mind of a Genius Records and Jake Udell (the man behind party animals Krewella), with his debut E.P. Zebra, a self-described “sonic diary” about dealing with the aftermath of his time in the Big Apple.
Udell’s pedigree is something of a red herring, as Gallant’s subtle atmospheric electro-soul sound couldn’t be further removed from the kind of hedonistic EDM that you might expect from such a connection.
“Weight in Gold,” the track which Elton John chose to play on his Beats 1 Radio show, sounds like a post-dubstep version of D’Angelo. “Open Up” and “Jupiter Grayscale” are the kind of navel-gazing slow jams which have characterised the contemporary R&B scene since The Weeknd’s emergence, while “Testarossa Music,” a collaboration with labelmates Zhu, is a slinky synth-led affair which proves Gallant’s soaring tones can also transfer to the dancefloor.