24-year-old Christopher Gallant, better known by his stage name, Gallant, doesn’t have the common rise to popularity backstory. Though self-released, his debut project, Zebra, isn’t some early indie experimentation uploaded to a Soundcloud or Youtube account in hopes of attracting so much Internet buzz that labels were suddenly knocking down his door. Instead, it was a dense and emotive reflection on his time spent in New York where he studied music at NYU. Shortly after graduating he moved to Los Angeles where he completed the EP one year later in 2014.

Part of the reason that Gallant, with his soaring, rich voice, feels like such a rare talent is because he displays an innate understanding of music and melody. Unlike many of his contemporaries in R&B, he’s made a serious lifelong study of the craft. As a result, the Columbia, Maryland native has introduced himself to the world with an uncharacteristic level polish and vocal fullness that most artists don’t develop until years into their career.

What’s more, Gallant’s experimental version of alternative R&B pulls from a range of genres including funk, dance, disco and newer hip-hop tropes. His official debut album, Ology, pulls from every category and offers a hint at what the future of R&B could look like, and it’s exciting. Before his first tour in Korea, Gallant stopped through New York and let us ask him 15 random questions.

What’s your strangest eating habit?

I eat too much raw fish and raw shellfish, to the point of almost throwing up all over the place, but it’s all worth it. I’ll eat like 30 to 40 raw oysters in a sitting…It’s the Maryland blood.

Who’s your style icon?

I’m notoriously really bad at fashion. I have stints where other people might say, ‘ok, he knows what he’s doing,’ but I don’t really. So I would say anyone who kind of sticks to something for three months and then changes it up after that, they would be my style icon.

Do you have a favorite fashion brand right now?

Weirdly enough, I think so. I’m really into John Elliott right now which might sound really naive and cliche to the people who are into fashion but it’s very wearable.

What’s your guilty TV pleasure?

I watch a lot of VEEP on HBO and just political shows in general. “House of Cards” and “VEEP” are my two favorite shows. I think both of those shows mirror elements of actual political landscapes in different countries.

Who are some musicians you love that might surprise your fans?

It’s tough because I have a Spotify playlist and I just put it all out there so I’m sure there’s some things in that. Maybe some people that I haven’t put on there would be artists from Japan and Korea. I listen to a lot of J-pop and K-pop. I like BoA, she’s a K-pop artist who’s been around for a long time and even crossed over into Japan. I also like Ayumi Hamasaki, I used to listen to her a lot in high school and she’s like, you know, the cheesy J-pop icon that hasn’t put out anything in awhile.

Do you play any sports? If so, what’s your preferred sport?

I play all sports but I’m horrible at every sport. Even though I’m really bad at sports I’m really good at board games. I play a lot of Settlers of Catan and I’m really good at video games. Right now I’m playing a lot of Overwatch. It’s a game by Blizzard, this company that does a lot of online camaraderie type games.

Are you a low-key video game guy?

Yeah, high key actually. I’m super, super into it. Smash Brothers is like one of my favorites. I’ve also been playing Pokémon Go. I actually caught a Pidgey on the way over here.

What would you be doing if music hadn’t worked out?

I’m not sure. I read a lot of non-fiction and a lot of that non-fiction tends to be sociological and maybe a little bit political science-y, so probably something in that field.

What’s one thing that really annoys you?

Man, I have so many things. I think whenever you’re at someone else’s house or a business or something and they just never have paper towels. There’s so many situations where no one thinks to restock the paper towels when you really need them. Like you don’t want to dry your hands on your friend’s towel that they dry off on, or if you spill something and you need to wipe it up…

What’s your favorite snack that you can make?

A bowl of Golden Grahams.

Do you cook?

I can’t really cook well. The furthest I’ve gone in the culinary arts is making myself some stir fry. It didn’t taste very good and I forced myself to eat it. I put a bunch of Panda Express sweet n’ sour sauce on it and called it a night.

Who is your favorite author?

It’s tough. I don’t know if I have a favorite author, per se, it’s more like themes. Everyone’s read a lot of Gladwell, but stemming off of that, right now I’m reading Too Dumb to Fail, which sounds really partisan but it’s just talking about the restructuring of the conservative party. It’s interesting to read that and then contrast it with someone like an Ann Coulter and then contrast it with someone else. There’s a lot of dogmatic works floating around where people kind of just say random facts and don’t really back it up, but that happens on both sides, so it’s interesting for me to just get a wide perspective on that kind of stuff.

Who was your favorite musician growing up?

I’d say Brandy probably. She’s really underrated and one of the greatest.

Where have you always wanted to travel?

Japan. Even through college I took the language up until the maximum. I’ve been studying Japanese since I was basically a child just because I’ve always been so obsessed with anime, manga, the food, just the culture in general. I really have a goal of being fluent one day, which I almost reached. It’s been four years since college though.

What are your favorite anime and manga series?

I think my favorite is Death Note.

Don’t forget to check out 15 more fast facts with buzzy newcomer Rich the Kid.

  • Photographer: Nico Amarca
Words by Stephanie Smith-Strickland
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