Updated: May 11, 2022
Singer-songwriter Christian French was an accidental find for me. While shuffling through Spotify's recommendations for my monthly favorite playlists, his song "love ride" was suggested. Immediately, I was hooked by the poppy synths, feel-good vibes, and French's smooth voice. It wasn't until I found out that he was opening for Quinn XCII and I heard him live when I fell in love with his music. Out of sheer curiosity, I sent him an Instagram private message asking if he was willing to do an interview. Not even a day later, he replied.
French started off on SoundCloud "doing piano/singing covers...that I had learned to play from YouTube" back in high school. Although his original SoundCloud account appears to have been terminated, his music career has not. He used the skills he crafted from covers to write original music. Since then, he has "stuck with it" and now has amassed 1.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Until recently, French had been juggling school and music. Music had mainly been a side thing that skyrocketed on Spotify, but he had previously dedicated two years on premed at Indiana University. However, when singer-songwriter Chelsea Cutler asked French to tour with her in 2018, French took the leap to drop out to pursue music. "I can always go back & finish school, but I can't always go on tour & pursue my music career. I would do it again a million times."
Currently, he is on tour with Quinn XCII and even got to kick off his birthday with his first crowd surf. Although "being on the road for so long takes a toll" on him, the joy he gets out of meeting fans he connected with through social media and pursuing a career that might have appeared to be a pipe dream even a year ago makes it more than worth it to him. I can't speak for his other performances, but he was fantastic in Nashville. The crowd didn't know all the lyrics to his songs, but the crowd was still rallied up. Even for "heavy snow," which had not been released at the time of the performance, the synergy continued.
Although French's music may sound generic based on a mere description (how many pop singers and synth tracks are there?), there's a unique element infused in it that I can't quite put my finger on. Music is a way for him to connect with people and express himself, which makes him and his music come off as relatable. He makes performing and singing appear to be so effortless and natural. His beats are energizing and bound to lift anyone's spirits, and this is only amplified live. In his Nashville performance, he casually wore a flannel shirt and could probably have blended in with the concert crowd if he weren't on stage. When he talked, it didn't matter what he said. It could've been about how happy he was to be in the music city or how his life turned when he dropped out to pursue music. Even if we didn't necessarily go through his story ourselves, he brought it to us and related to us. He didn't feel like some remote idol who just says that he gets his crowd; he really does.
Although most of his tracks are much more uplifting, the kinds of songs you'd play on a road trip with friends, his most recent release is a bit more somber. "heavy snow" describes his long-term struggle with anxiety and a time period in which it was hard for him to even turn to music. "It's the worst thing in the world," he recalls about his overall struggles. In a tweet, he described his experience as "a fog between reality and what was going on inside my head." Although "heavy snow" was cathartic for him, he wanted the song to be "another outlet to show people that they aren't alone." Like the artist he opened for, Quinn XCII, French also wants to use his art to help expand the talk of mental health and encourage people to "be more conscious of their states of mind and be able to better control how they are feeling."
For those getting into his music, my top five picks would have to be "By Myself," "heavy snow," "love ride," "Fall for You," and "someone new." Although he hasn't come to Pittsburgh yet, he liked my message where I requested him to stop by, so I hope that's a sign he'll keep us in consideration.