In a time of high-stress and an unpredictable future, quarantine can have all of us searching for something fresh, calming, and new. Christian French is a growing, talented musician who’s been working on some new tracks for you to listen to, including his new single, “i think too much.” In times when someone might need it most, Christian hasn’t been afraid to speak up about mental health and pressure in his music. With an EP dropping this June, Christian chats with us about his journey into music and making his mental health a priority.
First off, introduce yourself and what you do!
My name is Christian French, I’m 23 years old, and I’m from Indiana. I make music!
When did you get into music? What does your journey with music look like?
My music journey started with me learning a bunch of covers from YouTube of my favorite artists like John Mayer, The Fray, and Gavin DeGraw. You know, all of those early 2000’s musicians. For a while, I was just learning covers and learning my way around the piano. After I got acclimated to the piano, I started writing my own music. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I met a friend who could produce. I made a little demo and sent it to him. He produced the rest of the track, and it ended up being a cool collaboration we did for 4 songs. We put those songs on Spotify, and the first song we put up landed on the Top 50 Viral Charts for the United States. It was crazy to me that my music could actually have an impact and that people were listening. That was the first instance of me thinking, “Okay, I can actually do this as a career.” I spent the next couple of years making demos while at school and going to Los Angeles every possible break I could. Chelsea Cutler asked me to tour the end of my junior year, and so I dropped out of school with 13 credits left. I moved to Los Angeles that summer to write a whole bunch of music and prepare for the tour. After that, I hopped on tour with Quinn XCII for the spring and haven’t looked back since. I had my first headlining tour this past fall.
To start out on a light note, I know being housed up so much can have people going a little stir crazy and doing things they usually don’t. What’s one thing you’ve done that you’re slightly hesitant to admit?
Off the top of my head, my sleep schedule is back to my absurd ways. I used to go to sleep at 4 am and wake up at 1 pm. I got out of that habit, but I’m now back to that habit because I like making music at night.
Any impulse buys?
I was on Instagram, and I never usually fall for the sponsored posts. But this avocado sweatshirt popped up, right? It was a cute, little avocado on a green sweatshirt. I felt the need to buy it. I don’t even know when it’s coming, but I bought it because I was so bored and felt like I deserved the sweatshirt.
In what ways have you found this to be beneficial for your creativity and music?
To me, I haven’t had much time to myself in the past couple of years. My first year out in LA, I was just kind of sleeping on people’s couches. This past year, I finally got a spot, but I’ve been sharing a room with my best friend who just moved out there. There was always something going on, and I never got the time to think by myself. Having this time at home has been the first time in a long time I’ve been able to dive into the deeper side of my thoughts. I can also just sit and mess around with music until there’s something I like, and I can do it with no judgment. It’s been such a blessing, and I’ve been amazed at what’s come out of it. I’ve started producing and playing guitar. Those things are new to me, but I’m taking time to get better at them. I’ve even made some demos.
In what ways has it hindered it?
I will say I miss collaboration after doing all that alone for months. I miss working with other producers and artists I’ve gotten to love working with. Sometimes it’s nice to have that person to bounce ideas off of and feed off their energy. I miss that side of things, and I’m excited to get back to working with them again.
Has the world’s stronger dependence on social media lately allowed you to connect more with fans or have you lessened your use of social media? What’s that been like?
I’ve definitely been on my socials a lot more, thinking of new ways to spread my music. In the beginning, everyone was doing Instagram lives so I kind of stayed off of that. I ended up doing one, and it actually went really well. Now I’m a lot more comfortable doing Instagram lives, and I’ve done quite a few. It’s been great because it forces me to learn all my songs acoustically, hammer down the live aspect of things, and learn songs I never have on the piano. I’ve also been trying to respond to my fans and their DMs every single day, the most I can. It’s that extra level of connection. I find when I am looking at DMs, I’m way more in tune with what my fans like.
Your new single “i think too much” recently came out. How are you feeling about it?
I am so excited for this song. This song has been made for quite some time. I’ve just been waiting for the right time to put it out. I’ve listened to this song a million times, mostly because I have to in the process, but it’s amazing to me that [they’re] hearing it for the first time. It’s funny this song [came out] during quarantine because it applies so well with everyone being alone with themselves. When you’re with yourself, you tend to think more because you’re not distracted by other things.
Speaking of thinking too much, that’s exactly what people have been doing being stuck inside during such a hard, crazy time. I know you’re a huge mental health advocate. Please only share what you’re comfortable sharing, but what has your journey been like with mental health/why does it mean so much to you?
Going through all of this music stuff, it’s all so new to me, and I never expected to get this far. It’s cool to me how things have worked out, but along the way, there’s a lot to get stressed about and a lot to talk yourself off the edge about. It’s a really stressful environment sometimes. Staying healthy is the only way I’m able to get through this without feeling like shit. I’ve made physical health an important part of my life, but I’ve made mental health a big priority as well. It’s so important when writing music and going on tour. It all feeds back into my productivity and creativity, so I put it at the forefront of my life. Before I started writing songs, checking in with myself was helping me. I saw how much it helped me, and I felt the need to share with others what I’ve been going through to try and help other people. Mental health is sometimes really hard to talk about. It’s not just something you can usually bring up in a conversation like, “Hey, by the way, I have mental health issues.” I want my music to help let people know they’re not alone and take that next step by further letting them know what they can do to help.
If someone feels as if one of their friends is struggling during this time, what are some ways to reach out?
There are a few ways to dive into it. It can be as simple as saying, “I listened to this podcast and really liked it. I want to see what you think about it.” I listen to a lot of podcasts about mental health and the spiritual side of things to help keep me grounded. It can be something like a book, or a quote, or a podcast that sparks the conversation, so it’s not such a flat-out approach to start talking about mental health. You can see how those little things lead to a deeper conversation about it.
What are some things you hope to accomplish and create after the quarantine is over?
I am really excited to get back to LA, and I have an EP coming out in June. I’m just finishing up some last couple of songs and making music videos for that. I just want to make sure everything is how I want it before I release that. We’ve been making things happen through quarantine remotely, but there’s nothing like actually being with your team to get things done. I don’t know what the live side of things is going to look like. I’m not sure when it’ll be safe again to be at concerts or festivals. I’m just trying to stay on my toes for that. Whenever I can go out again, I’ll be going out again because I miss it so much. After this EP, it’s album mode. I’ve started to write for the album, and I’m preparing for that.
What’s one final message you’d like to send to fans and anyone reading this?
Keep your head up during this time. I know it’s rough, and I know it’s hard to stay productive. Make time for yourself, and exercise, sleep, and eat healthy. Use this time to do something you’ve always wanted to do but have been making excuses for. You have the time now. You never know what could come from it.
STORY ELIZABETH STAFFORD
PHOTOS MICKEY MARS