Since a personal revelation around the 2009 release of acclaimed singer-songwriter Chris Garneau‘s second full-length album, El Radio, we’ve been enamored with the recording artist’s repertoire of continuously gripping music. Garneau translates emotions and experiences, both mythic and human, into tracks that envelop listeners and encourage reaction or reflection. We last spoke in January 2022, for the premiere of his genre-defiant track, “Stranger.” Today, we debut the melodic lead single “Out of Love,” from Garneau’s Out of Love EP (out 8 December via The Orchard and Rough Trade Publishing). Within the song, Garneau’s crystalline vocals refract emotion into rainbow rays that slice the rising waves of orchestration. It’s an exquisite preview of the what Garneau will share next.
We last spoke in early 2022. Can you tell me a bit about what the last two years have been like for you musically?
I was on tour in Europe at the beginning of 2022 promoting my last full length album which came out in deep pandemic. Since then, I’ve been writing and recording singles, making this upcoming EP, and getting started on a new full length album. Last fall, I did a writing residency in France and recorded my single “Overexposure” in Biarritz with producer Benoit Bel. I also released a remix by my friend and longtime collaborator Witxes, and a home demo of “Now On,” my favorite song from my last record. On a personal note, I moved back to Upstate New York from Brooklyn to allow for more space to work, write and breathe. I’ve always had trouble making work in the city, so this has been a really good move for me. I feel more myself when I’m up here.
There’s a timelessness to the track “Out of Love,” a thoughtfully melodic beauty. Can you tell me how the song came together—from the lyrics to the escalating orchestration?
The song was inspired by a friend who passed away suddenly last summer. He was a beautiful and troubled soul, and he left behind these gardens that he cultivated: medicinal perennials, pollinating flowers and wild grasses. He left all this homegrown love behind for his friends and family. Whenever he would go to see a friend, he always brought flowers from his garden as an offering and little gifts, like a book he loved or some poems. Sadly, he was only 31 when he passed.
With this lyric, I explored the idea of someone having lived a half-life. In this sense, the song is a missive to those he left behind. It was important to me that the character left not out of vengeance or contempt but truly out of love, which is how I understand his departure.
I thought the recording would stay more in the vibe of the original home demo which was just a slow back-porch summer night ballad with a rumbling Wurlitzer and hushed vocals. But then, when I was in the studio with Patrick Higgins, we added some new elements—Moog, guitar and a bunch of backing vocals. And once the drums were recorded, it really exploded, informing my vocal takes. It brought everything up a few notches. I loved the energy it offered: something more celebratory and declarative, instead of this whispered lullaby. It all came together in a surprising way that feels more transcendent than funereal.
Why did you choose it as the lead single from your forthcoming four-song EP?
The title Out of Love captures what each of these songs is about: characters transformed by love. Whether it’s love for themselves, love for their friends or love for a dangerous man. “Out of Love’” the single lands like a declaration. I like the idea of starting to share this EP with something lucid, propulsive and uncompromising right out the gate. The second single, “Millions,” tells the story of an actor who leaves behind fame for the divine. And while I love the other two songs on the EP, they are both over six minutes in length, and offer more in-depth storytelling that I want to reserve for the full EP release.
This EP is your first collaboration with your boyfriend, Marc Briz. Can you tell me a bit about how you both worked together?
For most of my career, I wrote songs alone, in a circular, iterative manner, developing lyric and melody at the same time. My lyrics would often veer toward the confessional. But, with Marc, both those approaches have shifted. He hands me near-complete lyrics that we then discuss and edit together. And, because, he is a fiction writer, these songs are true character-driven stories. With the exception of “Out of Love,” which I wrote alone and Marc helped with a couple of lines, he wrote the rest. The whole experience has been very freeing. Music is easier for me than writing. With this collaboration, I get to dig into the music right away. And now that I have played these songs so much over the last 14 months, I feel like I embody them, like I wrote the words, which, I think, is the ideal way to feel about them.
Can you tell me a bit more about what listeners can expect from the EP? What is something that you hope they notice?
This is the gayest work I’ve ever intentionally made. There’s a cinematic queer cowboy fantasy in there.
I’m also proud of the epic Americana ballads—backed up by some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. The production overall is traditional folk rock at its core. Patrick Higgins and I produced “Out of Love” together and the others were self-produced with assistance from Dan Marcellus, who played drums on the other three songs and mixed the whole EP. Dan also helped organize the team playing on this, and I hope people notice these songs are probably the tightest, most dynamic tracks I’ve ever put out. I also feel that I’m more embodied in my vocal performances. I worked really hard to let go of some insecurities, and I tracked all my vocals alone, in my house, so as to curb the studio nerves I often get. This means you can hear some crickets if you listen real close.