Christian French is a pop singer from Indiana who is in the middle of his tour, "Avalanche". On Oct. 5, he played Brighton Music Hall in Boston, and I was able to sit down with him before the show to ask him a few questions about tour, producing music and inspiration.
Your tour is wrapping up at the end of this month in California. How do you feel about going home in a few weeks with the anticipation of the European leg of the tour starting after the new year?
It’s been crazy and so quick. It’s like, "Ah tour is just starting and then in the blink of an eye it’s like, holy sh*t we have 20 days of tour left," and so I’m sad to not be on the road, obviously, but I’m really excited to get home and finish this project. I kinda had to leave in the middle of making sh*t, and I’m really excited to tie up all these loose ends and get this music popping. So, when I do go to Europe in February, I have a bunch of new music coming out and new music to play and everything.
That leads me to my next question! What are you working on right now? Are you working on an EP or a debut album? What’s in the works?
I’m just over the EP game, honestly. I feel like I’ve done that enough, and I’m ready for something bigger. Bigger than releasing an EP with a few new songs, you know what I’m saying? I want to release something big for my fans to chew on and so I’ve been working on this album for like a year, a year and a half now, and just been putting so much more detail in it than I’ve ever done in any of my other music. It’s been really, really, really tough at points but it’s really rewarding when you finally get the one or two [songs] and it helps it get going.
What’s been your favorite experience producing music? Is there one instance in particular you’re fond of?
I think the coolest experience about this project has been, so—my roommate, Pink Slip, is the producer, and we had been roommates for two years and we hadn’t worked with each other. It was always like, "Oh yeah we’ll get in after our sessions today," then you get home and don’t want to write another song sometimes. So it had been two years and we still hadn’t worked together and finally we’re like, "F*ck it, let’s do a whole week, and let’s just make music." We ended up making incredible music and now he’s like making every song on this project and we work so well together. It was really cool that it ended up being that I just got to stay in my own house and we would work from like 1 p.m. to 6 a.m. just because we could and there was no reason to stop, the inspiration was flowing.
So would you say that you benefited from that part of quarantine, where you could stay in your house and just produce music?
Yeah, I will say that I wouldn’t have been able to write as much music without COVID, and with that I wouldn’t have gotten the sh*t songs out of the way so that I could start writing music that I really want to write. But at the same time, there’s just no new source of inspiration, and just kinda sitting every day like, "What am I gonna write about today?" A lot of times it was just the same thing over and over again. After a while you get over it, and you get into a groove of what works for you.
Your single “Avalanche” was released in June earlier this year, describing your feelings as your long term relationship began to fizzle out, but the beat is very uplifting and happy. Why did you decide to create this juxtaposition?
That’s my favorite thing to do. I don’t feel like every happy song needs to be like, "Woo! I’m happy! This is an upbeat song!" I think that’s the coolest part, is when you’re able to turn this sad experience into something that doesn’t feel so sad. It would be kinda depressing if every sad song lyrically is also slow and sad. I just felt like that’s what the feeling of the song was, it was a very liberating new found independence. It just felt right for the song, plus it’s my favorite thing to do.
What kind of music do you want to produce for your first album?
Good music! *chuckles* I guess if we’re going into the specific style, we’ve been really focused on getting the baseline for organic instruments like guitar, electric guitars, bass or piano. From that, we build new inventive stuff on top of it. I had my phases of it, but I still love EDM and that’s how I actually got into music in the first place [with Triegy]. There are very small hints of that in the production, because I f*ck with it, and just blending my favorite parts of music I’ve been listening to lately. Lyrically, I’m trying to paint this whole picture of a continuum of a relationship. The start before you meet them, when you meet them, when you're in peak love, when you’re plateauing, when you’re falling apart. I’m just trying to cover this whole spectrum and that covers feelings of instrumentals as well. I don’t need every song to be a fast pop hit to tell the story.
Where do you find your inspiration for songwriting? Just in your experiences?
Yeah! It’s different. Mostly I would say it’s my experiences and just gathering what’s happened in the past month or two months and trying to put it down on paper. But then there’s times when I’m watching a movie that is inspiring as f*ck, and you know those movies where after you just have that feeling of "damn, like what the f*ck did I just watch?"
Sure. What movie are you thinking of in particular?
"Bohemian Rhapsody" specifically. I watched that, and I laid in bed and just wrote a whole song.
One for your new album?
Potentially one of many! I also find that I feed really well off the feeling of instrumentals. So, if I’m playing some chords or my producer is playing some stuff that he just started, it’s usually a really good lift-off for me to dive into that feeling and figure out what to say after that.
So where do you typically write your songs? Do you have a safe space such as your bedroom that a lot of your writing takes place in?
I feel like a lot of ideas are started in my bedroom by myself whether it’s concepts or chords or certain lines. As far as finishing the music goes, I go across the kitchen into the studio. That’s where we finish music a lot of the time, is in that studio. I haven’t been writing by myself as much lately, and it’s something that I want to do more of moving forward. I’ve been loving finding the right people and collaborating with them because you can sit in your room and toy all over something all day, and it could be good, but you aren’t convinced yourself that it’s good. You keep shooting your own ideas down. When you have somebody that you trust and you’re able to bounce ideas off of, it helps the process go smoother and you get out things you wouldn’t have originally thought of.
Going off that, who would you want to collaborate with next if you had a choice?
Oh man, I think John Mayer is a huge one. He’s always the answer, but it’s such an unrealistic thing. I also think Dominic Fike is cool as f*ck. Other artists, I really want to work with Ashe, we’ve written a couple of songs together but haven’t really finalized anything to put it out. Benee I also think is super f*cking rad. Role Model is really rad, that crowd of people.
Fans are heavily anticipating the release of your song “Oh Well”. Some have even gotten tattoos for the song before its debut! How does that make you feel and what are your emotions on releasing that single?
I have a really weird feeling right now, because it’s supposed to be out already and I really just had it yanked from under me and now I have no idea when it’s coming out. So I’m in this weird position, feeling like I’m trying to play catch up with getting people to pre-save it and sh*t like that. I don’t know, it kind of ruins my excitement honestly for a second, but I know that as soon as I get a date for it to come out on, I’ll be so f*cking ready. I’ve been so excited about this song for like seven months now and I had to keep it a secret until recently. I wrote this song after such a sh*tty day, and it’s turned into such a beautiful thing that so many people can relate to.
You were a pre-med major at Indiana University, do you think you would still be exploring that career path if music did not work out for you?
Totally. I don’t know if I would be a doctor or anything, but definitely something in that sphere. I still follow lovescience. I’m the nerd in the van that listens to science podcasts between cities still.
What’s your favorite podcast to listen to right now?
I know this is cliche, but I really do f*ck with the Joe Rogan ones that have to do with science and stuff like that. Those have been great, so has Aubrey Marcus’ podcast. The Tim Ferriss Podcast is a really good one. I’m just saying a bunch of names now. It just depends on what you’re looking for. Aubrey Marcus is really good for the spiritual side of things. Tim Ferriss is really good at combining everyday health with your spiritual side. I always want to know how to best treat my body so that it’s working its best.
What influences your stage performance?
A lot! The last time I played [at this venue] I was with Chelsea Cutler. A lot of it comes from watching Chelsea on her tour, because I had no f*cking clue what I was doing. Going on the Quinn XCII tour and watching him every single night, and sponging up what worked in their set and what didn’t, and taking all of that and putting it in my own shows and style. I’ve gone to some dance classes because I’m so crusty and white. Doing all that, and just watching other artists do their thing. They look dope, and I want to see what I can do to look dope as well.
What is a dream venue for you to play at?
Red Rocks is so f*cking cool, so there. And then I don’t know what room in Indianapolis, but Old National would be really cool. I just played Old National, but I didn’t play in the big room. So the big room of Old National.
If you could tell your 18 year old self anything, what would it be?
I don’t know because there’s the argument of sh*t unfolding exactly how it should, and now we’re here in the present moment. But I was not seriously making music until I was 20 so if I could tell my 18 year old self to start taking that sh*t seriously, that’s just two more years of experience I could have. I am continuously kicking myself for not learning guitar earlier, so now I’m finally learning and I’m getting good at it, but I could be so much better right now. A big goal of mine is to eventually write, produce, play the instruments for the most part on a full album and really do it myself.
That’s a great goal to have! My last question for you is what is your go-to karaoke song?
It’s funny you say that. Especially on tour, if we go somewhere with karaoke, I don’t sing because I want to save my voice for the shows. "Sweet Caroline" always happens. Every single time I go to karaoke they always play that song. I don’t know, I never do karaoke which is ironic.