Since releasing his first single in 2016, Indiana native and self-taught musician Christian French has been compared to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Jon Bellion. The past year has been a busy one for French: he toured with Chelsea Cutler and Quinn XCII; released his second EP, “bright side of the moon”; and started his first headline tour last week. The Wheel interviewed French via phone and email on Aug. 29 to talk about his new EP, his ongoing tour and his thoughts on self-care.
This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
The Emory Wheel: For the people who aren’t familiar with you or your music, who is Christian French?
Christian French: I don’t know. I guess Christian is a 22-year-old dude that started music in high school, went to college and wanted to be a doctor, but sophomore year decided he was all in for doing music full-time.
TEW: What artists do you listen to for inspiration?
CF: John Mayer is my all-time favorite. He’s a genius writer and has been such a steadfast figure in the music industry for more than 20 years. I love Bellion’s storytelling abilities, and I think he has a really important story to tell. Khalid is also doing some amazing things for his age.
TEW: You often share the meanings of your songs via Instagram. What are the pros and cons of letting your fans into the stories behind your songs?
CF: It’s all about the story I’m trying to tell rather than trying to make music for people to relate to. If it helps people, that’s awesome, but it’s not really what I try to do. I want to tell my story from my own perspective, and I interpret my songs in a certain way. If someone takes it negatively, whatever.
TEW: The lyrics on songs like “By Myself” are pretty different from “hungover sunday,” “head first” or pretty much any song off of “bright side of the moon.” Can you think of anything in your life that might have sparked this change in mentality that’s suggested in your music?
CF: At the end of the day, it comes down to where I’m at in life. When I wrote “By Myself,” I was young, in school and was focused on completely different things than I am now. The reason I’ve been so focused on learning about self-help now is because I finally have the time to do it. Before, I was trying to balance being a pre-med major, playing on the school’s hockey team and becoming a musician — my time was very limited. I honestly wasn’t really that aware of the concept of self-help until about a year ago — when I was on tour, Cutler’s drummer Gavin gave me a few books to read on the road: “The Alchemist,” “The Four Agreements” and “The Mastery of Love.” I was so inspired by these books, and they helped me so much that I made the decision to dive deeper into it and begin writing about my experiences. These songs are kind of my story and experience of life through this lens.
TEW: What song are you most looking forward to in your setlist and why?
CF: There are a few songs that I’m getting to play for the first time, like “head first” and “call me your love,” that are me and my band’s favorite songs to play — they are so fun and bring so much energy, and I’m excited to finally get to share it with everyone else. I also get to take it back for a few songs and play some acoustically, which I have never really done before. For songs like “Dying Alive,” I get to capture the raw emotion of the song.
TEW: Who would you want to work with in the future?
CF: If Mayer and I could be in a studio together, we could do something incredible. As far as electronic artists go, I’ve seen Odesza a couple times, and I would love to work with them.
French comes to Aisle 5 in Atlanta on Sept. 19. Click here to purchase tickets.