Gallant In Fall's Hottest Men's Looks: 'Dad' Sneakers and Offbeat Suits
A couple of hours from now, Christopher Gallant will be in a Los Angeles loft, looking thoroughly at home in a mix of vibrantly patterned jackets and trousers and an array of high-fashion dad sneakers, the throwback look of the moment. But right now, as he slides into a red vinyl booth at a downtown L.A. diner, the 25-year-old singer is wearing a fuzzy, chestnut-colored tracksuit with white piping. “I look like a fucking ’70s couch,” admits Gallant. “But it feels so good. I like the way shit feels. I like comfort.”
When it comes to music, Gallant is quick to step out of his comfort zone. Following his roundly acclaimed 2016 debut, Ology, which was nominated for a best urban contemporary album Grammy (he lost to Beyoncé), he’s now at work on LP No. 2, with a wide range of producers including DJ Mustard, Salaam Remi and Max Martin.
Ology showcased Gallant’s elastic voice -- an arresting tenor that swoops from gossamer falsetto to guttural wail -- and his genre-blind approach to mixing vintage soul, glistening modern pop and futuristic electronica. “When I was a kid, I literally thought, ‘If you’re black, you’re only allowed to make certain types of music,’” says Gallant. “Then I saw Seal’s ‘Crazy’ video. He showed me there are no rules.” The admiration is now mutual: “When Gallant opens his heart and sings, I don’t hear R&B -- I hear him,” says Seal. “He knows exactly who he is but remains open.”
That means expanding his horizons both in and out of the studio. “It has felt so right with Max since day one, which I wouldn't necessarily expect,” says Gallant of working with Martin. He’s filming new episodes of In the Room, a series of acoustic duets that has included Andra Day, John Legend (with whom Gallant toured this past spring), Sufjan Stevens and, coming soon, Moby and Dua Lipa. He also happens to have a runaway hit in South Korea: “Cave Me In,” with K-pop mavericks Tablo and Eric Nam. (With 5.3 million YouTube views, it bests even “Weight in Gold,” Gallant’s biggest hit on his own.)
“I don’t know if Gallant is capable of singing a bad note,” says Moby, who found the singer after asking a friend to point him to today’s “Sam Cookes and Otis Reddings.” And while he exudes a sophistication and raw energy onstage that recalls those legends, Gallant is a man of quieter pleasures when at home in the San Fernando Valley: reading non-fiction (recently Dreamland, about opiate addiction), playing Nintendo Switch (“I called all the stores when it came out -- I love having the console first”) and watching Cartoon Network. “I’m pissed I’m missing Comic-Con right now,” he says with tangible FOMO. He recently voiced a character for Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears and plans to do more voice acting soon. “It makes me feel like a kid,” he confesses with a rare grin.
Later in the afternoon, Gallant is grooving, eyes closed, to Brandy’s eponymous 1994 album, his lanky frame draped in bold prints, baggy pants and a tailored blazer. “I like the way it’s loose, unpretentious,” says Gallant, a fan of edgy suiting who has worn normcore -- deliberately ordinary looking, that is -- Adidas on the red carpet. “I could be part of 112 -- that’d be tight.” He’s nostalgic for that R&B quartet’s heydey. “I wish I was born in ’82 so I could grow up in the mid-’90s,” he muses -- and for a moment, like when he’s singing, he seems like a man who has slipped free of history. “When I’m onstage it feels like I’m jumping out of space into this other reality where I can manipulate the fabric of time. It feels like I could do anything.”