Continuing my chat with Michael Gallant from part one:
Artistic comparisons are inherently unfair but occasionally necessary in describing new music. For me, you are reminiscent of a young McCoy Tyner. How would you describe yourself and your artistic vision?
McCoy is my piano hero, so I take any comparison to him as a great compliment. I remember seeing him play when I was a teenager and feeling that he pulled more power out of a piano trio than I’d seen come out of many stadium rock bands. That’s something I’ve been trying to emulate in my own work.
As far as artistic vision, in a broad sense, I try to make music that’s honest, raw, emotionally evocative, un-ironic, un-pretentious, unapologetic, and gutsy. Every aspect of “Completely” involved pushing my comfort boundaries and taking risks — playing, composing, producing, you name it. Playing on the edge like that has been good for me thus far, and I plan to keep trying to discover where that edge is for me, both with the artistic and the business sides of things, and continue to dance along it as best I can.
A good critic should have a little rogue publicist in them as we do have an important role in helping to push certain artists forward. While many artists agree, there is a small and rather vocal minority that to want to trash critics, their own record labels and on occasion even the fans. Given the wide range of social media platforms should artists be more sensitive to the "business" side of their work and less concerned with making a "statement" at least until they have established them self as a serious performer?
Just speaking for myself, I try to make music that turns me on — end of story — and I love seeing other musicians play music that turns them on. I can’t say I’m always in love with the business and social media end of the game, but as an indie artist, I feel that it’s a necessary component, at least right now, to allow me to make the music that I want to make and get it in the ears of people who might find it cool and intriguing. When I talk with students, I share the opinion that treating everyone you deal with respectfully and building a community around your music is an important part of building a sustainable career. At the same time, music is about communication and self-expression — so it comes down to a balancing act between staying mindful of the business side, but not letting that hamper your ability to express yourself, even if you’re going to piss some people off in the process. In most cases, though, if you’re thoughtful about it, I don’t think those two goals have to be mutually exclusive.
Just how competitive is the New York scene and what lies ahead?
It’s definitely competitive, but not cutthroat in the way I expected it to be when I first got to the city. The competitiveness feels like a result of there being such a great concentration of talent, originality, and ambition in this city — rather than people trying to claw over one another to get to the top. The baseline when it comes to chops and musicality is an inspiring high. At the same time, I’ve been impressed by how friendly, welcoming, and humble the vast majority of players I’ve met have been.
As for what next — I just completed a bi-coastal tour playing music from Completely and I plan to keep touring, either later this year or in early 2014. Also, eight tracks from the album were licensed for use in a new iPhone and iPad app called JamBandit, which lets users jam along to the tracks using their touch screens — so it’s been exciting to see the music shared and enjoyed in a way that I could never have predicted. Finally, I’ve been working on material for the next album, so hopefully I’ll have more music to share soon!
Extra Special Thanks To Michael, One Of The Best For 2013 At www.criticaljazz.com
My Review Of Completely From Michael Gallant