Singer-songwriter Christian French credits his mom with influencing his taste in music.
“My mom always had John Mayer and Gavin DeGraw and Fitz and the Tantrums and Eric Clapton and the Eagles playing in the car all the time,” he says via phone from Los Angeles where he was shopping at thrift stores in preparation for his upcoming tour that brings him to House of Blues Cambridge Room on Sunday, Sept. 8. “John Mayer is my favorite artist to date still. Always has been. That stems from his albums being looped continuously during my childhood.”
It’s suggestive that in high school when French had a choice to be in band or choir, he chose both.
“I chose to be in both because I had a little experience drumming,” he says. “I started singing in choir. In my choir class, I had a friend who learned ‘Love Song’ by Sara Bareilles off YouTube. It was really dope. I thought that if he could do it, I could do it. I started learning piano from YouTube as well. We’d practice together after choir class. That’s when I started singing, and I fell in love with it.”
French started posting covers on Soundcloud. The very first track he ever posted was his cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”
“It was the shittiest recording ever,” he says with a laugh. “You could barely hear me singing. I’ve come a long way since then. It’s still one of my favorite songs to play on the piano.”
French caught a good break a couple of years ago when his single “Fall for You” went viral.
“There’s a funny story behind that,” he says when asked about his reaction to the song’s success. “I was in the middle of nowhere in Oregon at my sister’s house. I didn’t have any service for a very long time. When I finally got service, one of my friend’s texts came through with a screenshot of the viral playlist, and I was on it. I didn’t have enough service to tell anyone about it. My whole family didn’t understand. I had to freak out by myself for the entire day. I can’t even describe that. It was the first song I had put on Spotify. To get noticed immediately was really crazy, and it gave me the confidence to keep doing it.”
While still in college, French began spending his breaks in Los Angeles where he could record. He self-released Natural Colors last year and then inked a deal with Disruptor Records (The Chainsmokers, Dove Cameron) for his new EP, bright side of the moon.
“Natural Colors was produced by Dru Decaro, who’s my main producer,” he says. “This EP was more collaborative. I was working with new producers I had become friends with. We just clicked in these sessions. It’s more collaborative, and that’s amazing. I’m a huge supporter of collaboration. I don’t think you can think any less of anyone for collaborating. It’s getting the best ideas from multiple people rather than having to figure it all out yourself. Making this EP, I learned a whole bunch along the way. It was such a cool experience.”
A song about looking on “the bright side” of things, the title track features French’s upper-register vocals and perky synths.
“It wasn’t inspired by a specific incident but recurring incidents,” says French. “I’ve been into self-help books lately. I’ve been keeping up with books and podcasts. It’s all based on self-help and the underlying message, which is that it’s your choice to focus on negative emotions going on in your head or looking at the positives. It’s a super hard thing to do, but I started trying to do that every day in my life. I realized people need to know about it. That’s my biggest thing in music. I want to help out as many people as I can. It’s what I’m here for.”
French says he’s “so stoked” for the live show that comes to town next week.
“It’s really cool getting to do exactly what you want to do instead of being an opener with guidelines you have to follow,” he says. “Our set doesn’t have to be 30 to 45 minutes. It’s the full hour, and I get to play tracks I’ve never played before. I get to sit down and strip it back for a little bit too. It’s a more complete show. We have a drummer for the first time, and there are so many new elements we have added.”
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.