Cultural Crossover: Galantis x Jackson Wang In Conversation
Music is universal – it’s something that’s so expansive that it can bring people together in a way few other things can. Yet getting to be fly on the wall, listening as global sensation Jackson Wang and Christian Karlsson of multi-platinum dance-pop duo Galantis heap genuine praise and express heartfelt respect for each other as they discussed their latest collaboration 'Pretty Please', proves that music is as much about intimate person-to-person connection as it is about the rest of the world lending an ear.
Speaking of the track, which began as Jackson’s brainchild, Christian says: “I was really excited to get the request to collaborate, I thought the idea of Pretty Please was cool. I didn’t understand the concept and the way it was put together sonically immediately, and that made it even better and inspired me to work on it from the get-go. I particularly enjoyed working with a track that didn’t let me pick a favourite part in it.”
About the concept and the innovative visuals that accompanied the track, Jackson reveals: “When people listen to the song, they may not immediately connect it with the visuals that are presented along with it. The song itself is a love story about me falling in love with a girl and confessing how much I adore her, so it’s hard to imagine that in connection with visuals inspired by the 90s Chinese Hong Kong movie concept, which is what I grew up watching. I figured it’d be interesting to execute the track and visuals in a way don’t connect with each other on first listen.”
Having taken inspiration for the track from his childhood influences and as someone with an oft-expressed goal of bridging the gap between the East and the West through his music, Jackson holds this collaboration with Galantis in high regard, seeing it as the next step in a journey he believes has just begun. “As an Asian I want to share our culture to the Western audience and learn about their culture. I want to learn and share because at the end of the day, we’re all people walking this Earth and cultural barriers shouldn’t be a reason for us not to connect. My goal of bridging the gap between East and the West will be a long journey, it isn’t something that can be done in one day. This collaboration with Galantis is not only an honour but a big step in the direction of my goal.”
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Christian echoes the sentiment, adding: “I’m so pleasantly surprised with how well this particular track is connecting with people across the world, because it proved how universal music is. Galantis is always am interested in music from all over the globe and that crossover is always the goal. I am interested in music from all over the globe and that crossover is always the goal, I want to collaborate with artists everywhere and tour as places as possible, this is what keeps driving me forward.”
On the topic of moving forward, Christian explains that exploring new sides of music and himself as an artist is always his hope with his music. Speaking of this release and what he hopes for the future, he responds: “This is a new territory for Galantis. What’s great about this collaboration is that we got to step out of our comfort zone and found a new genre within ourselves. As Galantis we always want to explore. If I don’t feel like I’ve done something new, then I don’t think it’s Galantis anymore. I want to keep doing what I’ve done on this project with Jackson.”
For his part, Jackson - who aims to challenge and exceed his previous self with every release- says: “The style of ‘Pretty Please’ is a new flavour of myself, it’s different from my last release ‘100 Ways’. I was able to see a new world through this release. I also learned a lot from Galantis when they changed up my whole track. They changed it up and it was 200 times better. I was awed by their ability to turn stone into diamonds.”
Pivoting the conversation off this compliment, Christian says: “What I learned from working with Jackson? I need to step up my video direction game!” And this is something that be passed over without touching upon. Having been written, conceptualised, directed and edited by Jackson himself, the music video establishes how truly multi-talented the 26-year-old is – if that fact wasn’t already clear as day!”
Of course, having to do it all himself amidst a packed schedule, is no easy task. He says: “I’ve always had some kind of creative control of my videos, but it can be hard to execute an entire production. Having to shoot in different locations, sometimes with different teams and always being short on time means that it’s really tough to have all the puzzle pieces fall into the right pocket.”
However, Jackson wouldn’t be Jackson if doesn’t do what he set to do exceedingly well, which he proves when he adds: “It’s hard but we pull it off every time and make something we are all satisfied with.”
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Speaking of pulling things off, Christian admits to being a little scared what people would think about the track which is sonically a departure from their usual peppy, pop-leaning stuff. Much like Jackson though, Christian – and Galantis by extension- thrive on being challenged.
He says: “I never want to play it safe as an artist, I don’t want to have the same process for making music. I want to keep putting out music that people haven’t heard before. This can be scary and I actually don’t want it but that’s exactly why I need to push myself into a corner that forces me to change things up. By being cornered to use a particular instrument or write something specific, I find myself doing better as an artist, and that’s where I want to be.”
‘Pretty Please’ is exactly what both Jackson and Galantis needed to keep their creativity follow. Allowing the former to keep reinventing himself and the latter to find something to push their creative boundaries during what could have been an otherwise uninspiring period of no tours or music in lockdown, the track materialised quickly reveals Christian. Even quicker was the climb of views, shares and love for the track.
As Christian points in grateful awe: “I’m blown away that it’s taken off purely due to fans support.” Jackson who posted to express his own thanks each time the view count rose up, adds: “Having supporters who keep showing support to me is something I’m blessed to have. What touches me most is that they share and promote it whatever way they can – they share it on their socials, with their friends and family - that means a lot to me.”
In closing when asked to describe their collaboration in one-word, Christian sums it up pretty well with the exclamation: “Wooo!” It’s similar to the energy we found at the beginning of the interview, where Jackson says: “Every day is a good day after ‘Pretty Please’!”
Indeed, this should be a strong enough indication of everything the two artists have managed to experience and achieve by coming together. In fact, they joke with Clash that 11 more collaborations with each other is the number on their bucket list... and for the sake of spreading more smiles in the world when its needed most, we hope this actually ends up happening.
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'Pretty Please' is out now.
Words: Malvika Padin
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