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Introducing: Gallant

In an age of digital anonymity, there’s something well and truly refreshing about a musician who – while still technically anonymous – takes the time to Snapchat with his fans. That’s exactly what you get with LA’s Gallant: an RnB maestro, and Felix Snow collaborator, who is known for loving a good social media session with his online admirers. A quick glance over the Maryland-born musician’s Tumblr says it all; featuring a slew of images from snaps of people’s iTunes libraries that have racked up impressive Gallant playcounts to more straight-up messages of love and hype. Oh, and a fair amount of Nintendo paraphernalia to boot.

With a much-anticipated debut EP, Zebra, on the way, as well as a slew of tracks earning considerable momentum, we met the man himself for the 411 on why Snapchat is the most real form of social media, growing up on Toni Braxton and Babyface, and to ask that most pertinent of questions: Mario or Pokémon? 

PlanetNotion: Growing up, what was the first record you remember hearing around the house that really had an impact on you?
Gallant: It’s a bit of a cliché but my dad had a Motown collection and every night we’d drive and listen to it in the car. Apart from that, there was this one album by Babyface‘s For the Cool in You and Toni Braxton’s self-titled album; they were both things that stuck in my head but I tried to get away from them in my teenage years, for whatever reason. I’ve found myself coming back to them and really appreciating everything in that era of 90s RnB and soul.

PN: You’ve been working with Felix Snow on quite a few tracks over the last year or so. How did you first start working with him?
G: Back in New York, we were introduced by friends in the industry who were helping us both out. We were writing and doing sessions; I was also working on a different project at that point in time. We just clicked and had this really cool synergy. It carried over into a legitimate friendship. Once we started working based on that friendship, we began making these really nice instrumental tracks that we both liked a lot. We took it from there and haven’t stopped since.

PN: What do you feel he brings to your music that you might not get from anyone else?
G: I don’t even know if I can put it into words. He’s into capturing the moment. When I think about the visuals to my tracks, it’s always this in-the-moment, David Lynch feeling; I feel like he has that same taste but in a musical way. He’s into capturing what I have in my head in one second. It always comes out amazing.

PN: Are there any other producers that you feel would gel really nicely with your sound?
G: I’m really into Sango and Active Child. I’ve been talking to Sango a lot, but I’ve yet to talk to Active Child: he’s really, really awesome. Then there’s also this group, The-Drum; he’s crazy experimental and I think that could be really cool. Oh, and there’s this dude that I’ve already done a record with, Maths Time Joy.

PN: It feels as though while quite a few tracks from your forthcoming Zebra EP have appeared online – ‘Manhattan’, ‘Sirens’, ‘If It Hurts’ – but we still don’t know a massive deal about it. What can you tell us about it?
G: It’s connected by a soundscape vibe. At the end of ‘Sirens’ and ‘Manhattan’, there are these bits of sound that carry over into certain interludes, and tie everything together in an interesting way. It allows for some tracks to be wildly different. I know ‘Sirens’ is one of my favourite tracks but it’s also a little bit different from the atmospheric tone that some of the others have. There’s another track on there called ‘Sienna’ and that’s super different from anything. It’ll all have a similar feel if it’s experienced at once but I’m not pressuring anybody to do that because I appreciate that it’s a singles-driven market. Once it’s out, I’m just gonna keep coming back and delivering really cool tracks that I like a lot.

PN: RnB – in both indie and popular circles – has been going through such a renaissance over the last few years. Who in your eyes is doing particularly interesting things with it?
G: How to Dress Well: he’s really, really awesome. I like his style a lot.

PN: I noticed on your blog that you posted a picture of a Gameboy Pocket… Are you much of a gamer?
G: I’m not a gamer per se, but I used to be pretty hardcore. I think retro games at this point, or at least what we consider to be retro games, are super awesome and super fun. I never got into the whole Halo thing, though. I just don’t understand all the first-person shooter, online stuff. I’ll just play Pokémon Yellow or whatever.

PN: What’s your favourite game to play on Gameboy?
G: It’s gonna be Pokémon Yellow without a doubt. On Gameboy Advance, I’ll split it between Mario Tennis or Pokémon Emerald.

PN: I think I know the answer to this but… Mario or Pokémon?
G: Pokémon, without a doubt. Mario’s still doing his thing though; he’s in the game for sure.

PN: I also noticed while going through your photo stream that you post a lot of things that your fans have sent you. Is that communicative relationship with them important to you?
G: Yeah, 100%. I think Snapchat is my favourite one because it’s such a personal thing. It’s always cool to be sitting around and have a second to look through Snapchat and see all these people’s moments. To be able to send back my own Snapchats and have that back-and-forth – and save moments and share moments – is pretty special. It’s almost like when you’re out somewhere and you’re with your parents or grandparents and you look around and see people taking pictures, and your parents say, “why don’t you just experience it?” Snapchat, by giving you a certain period of time, creates that life experience where you see it and then it’s gone. That’s amazing to me, and I’m super appreciative whenever somebody decides that they want to reach out and say hi, or that they like something.

PN: What’s the strangest thing anyone’s ever sent to you?
G: God, I’ve gotten so many strange things. Someone sent me a picture of what looked like a bathtub, and there was an arm coming from one direction and another from a different direction. At the end of the tub in the front of the picture, there was a plate of salad. It was a five-second Snapchat and I couldn’t figure it out.

PN: There’s got to be some kind of hidden message there.
G: Yeah, definitely. Maybe I’ll have a dream that will explain it all for me.

- Alex Cull

To hear more from Gallant, head over to his Soundcloud page.

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