Image credit: Michael George

Proudly LGBTQIA, singer Chris Garneau released a new dark ballad ‘Overexposure’ via Private Friend/The Orchard + Rough Trade. Chris is a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, USA, who drowned the making of over the course of a year at the Ateliers Grands Cèdres during his residency. The new ballad offers impressive vocals that a warm and welcoming, yet have the potential to entrance listeners. Phuture unpacked Chris Garneau and ‘Overexposure’ with an interview.

Listen to Overexposure

How has ‘Overexposure’ changed your life?

I think that every time we finish any piece or body of work we are sort of changing our lives, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. Finishing and subsequently releasing work into the world changes your life in the sense that you no longer have to be alone with it: art is ultimately meant to be shared. With this song, what started as a sort of mysterious, unknown lyric to me became, by the time I got closer I got to completing it, a much clear feeling, and I realized that I was writing about my current life condition. In this way, the song helped expose something very real and allowed me the space to examine something I was experiencing through a different lens. 

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

I always hope that when my music resonates with someone it’s because they feel less alone that’s part of why I make the kind of work I make. It’s an interesting exchange, because by releasing work, I no longer have to be alone with it, and others are encouraged to feel less alone, too. This song is so much about what it’s like to feel trapped in cyclical patterns of feeling pain and that rumination, whether it’s from loss of love, or of life, or anything else that might torment a person and the way that someone might overexpose themselves to that pain, rather than find the way out. The way out is usually by making space for that pain to exist instead of trying to extinguish it. I’ve had to learn this lesson a few different times now because it has shown up in different ways, but ultimately the way out has been the same, and it’s always so much about understanding fear and then growing with it.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Americana, Baroque, Indie, Gaylore

How does a song come together for you? What is the songwriting process?

I like to begin with a lyric, or at least a phrase or two. The text informs the spirit, and the tone, of the song. Next, it’s easy to move onto music once a melody has been shaped around some words, even if only a few phrases. I like to then consider how the words move with the sound, and what kind of space may or may not be needed to help give shape to the sentiment of the lyric. A chorus and bridge will follow if they weren’t the first thing I ended up making, which is always a possibility; though, I would say usually a verse emerges before anything else. It’s hard to know what a chorus will be without the verse, but there isn’t a strict way of doing anything in my case. And often I don’t have choruses actually. Sometimes my chorus is just a tagline that stays with the listener, giving the sense that there’s a chorus. I have so many songs that really are just three verses in a row with a bridge somewhere in there. I don’t intend to write this way but it happens frequently.

What was the first album/CD you ever bought?

I think that it is possible that it was Tori Amos ‘Little Earthquakes’ when I was eight years old. But before that, I remember buying 4 Non Blondes cassette tape so I could listen to ‘What’s Up’. And no offence but I think I bought Milli Vanilli a couple of years before that when I was like six years old.

What album do you know every word to?

When the Pawn

Share some advice for other bands/artists creating original music?

Don’t sign to a label unless you think they’re really good people who will truly change your life! Use a distributor, hire a publicist and try to lock down a publishing deal for film + TV syncs since that’s where the only money is. Keep your masters. And you don’t have to tour all the time, but try to play shows more locally without spending money on travelling.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

I think someone flying across several countries to see me play live, which happened twice, that I knew of – once in France, someone had flown from Scotland to see a performance. And in China, someone took a train for like 2 days to see a show in Shanghai. I think that kind of thing really blew me away. Tattoos of lyrics of mine, this has happened a few times and is really like a wow moment for me.

If you could create your own radio show, what kind of music would you feature and why?

I think I would feature more instrumental/immersive/experimental music. I wish there was more exposure for experimental music in general, I wish people were more interested in listening to music without words, including classical music. I listen to more of this at home than anything else.

Tell us about your upcoming releases?

Besides the new single ‘Overexposure’ which feels like a kind of epic work for me, it took a long time to build, record and mix and master, it’s a track I’m really proud of. I’m building a lot more work over this winter and plan to continue releasing singles toward an upcoming full-length, which could be out by fall.

One last nugget of info you can’t wait to share with your fans?

nothing much else at the moment.