Christian French made exorcising internal demons sound effortless in his new single titled “Crowded Room,” out last Friday (March 6) via Disruptor Records/Sony Music Entertainment.
The Indiana native disclosed online prior to the song dropping that he had “been waiting so long for this song to come out.” The release is apparent in French’s voice as he delivers evocative lyrics:
“I’ve been so overwhelmed with trying
Don’t wanna be at parties
I just wanna be nobody with my thoughts in my room
But it’s no use, still it
Feels like I’m standing in a crowded room
Fighting to find a little space to move
Try to remind myself it’s nothing new
But taking a breath is getting hard to do”
French has not been shy about mental health and how he navigates it in particular before “Crowded Room.”
“Every song that I’ve written on mental health has stemmed from me going through these different trials and tribulations of not feeling like myself and then working through the situation to find an optimistic message on the other side,” French tells tmrw. “I write these songs to sort of ‘spread the message’ of what I’ve experienced so that other people who are lost can use my music as an outlet for positive change.”
French was hit with his first wave of anxiety toward the end of summer 2016 and described that period as “the darkest time of my life” to tmrw last year. The former hockey player and pre-med major at the University of Indiana eventually found it in him to voice his emotional pain to his parents, which led to him getting treatment from a doctor. Underneath it all, music served as the glue holding French together, and that is still true now.
French has several previous offerings that touched on similarly vulnerable subject matter, such as “heavy snow”—ironically put out around this same time last year:
Other examples include “bright side of the moon” (the title track to his 2019 EP), 2017’s “Dying Inside.”
But those songs should act as context and nothing further. They had to happen in order for “Crowded Room” to emerge, in order for French to (literally) find and sink into his voice and unique sound. But now that “Crowded Room” is here, French’s first tune of 2020, it should be heard independently so that its message does not get lost in the shuffle of a discography.
“What was different about writing this song was that the song didn’t start out as such an optimistic message,” French says. “It came from a place where I felt so overwhelmed and just started ‘venting.’ It was only after starting to write that I was able to find the positive twist to the story that makes the song what it is. Pretty much all of my other songs have been written after having some separation from my experience, so the songs usually start with the positive intent. I think that’s why I feel this song so much—because I started it from a really, really troubled place and the simple act of writing the song is what helped me realize the positive message of making friends with myself.”
He later adds: “While I started this song with a less than an optimistic view, I started to realize that it was up to me to try to change my relationship with myself so that the “crowded room” inside my head would be more of a friendly one rather than one full of judgement. Sometimes I surprise myself with what comes out after I start writing.”
When French isn’t writing music, he has other forms of healing that help his insides feel a little less crowded. He goes on walks by himself, though that might get less and less relaxing as he inevitably becomes more and more recognizable. He journals, meditates, reads. He turns to at least one of these learned coping mechanisms per day, and some days, he needs more than one.
“Crowded Room” was written, French says, for anybody who needs community in “figuring out life as we go.” A nudge in the right direction, whatever direction that might be. French is adamant about needing space in the song, even if metaphorically (“Don’t wanna be at parties”), but that don’t twist that into thinking he wants to be alone.
“Learning how to become aware of your thoughts and being kind to yourself is something that will pay off for the rest of your life,” he continues. “We all get overwhelmed at some points and need help, and I hope [and] believe that this song will be there for those who need it.”
It has already resonated widely, with one fan even modeling her eyeshadow after the song’s promotional color scheme:
If listeners don’t pay keen attention to the words, “Crowded Room” could come across as a breezy single. The sonics are pleasantly upbeat, and French’s buttery voice doesn’t give off that he feels weighed down.
That was intentional.
If you need something to make you feel better, why not create it yourself?
“The overall sound makes me feel so good,” he says. “I’ve already listened to this song a crazy amount of times, and I still feel energized every time I listen to it, which is really saying something. The song isn’t presented in a sort of sad way. It’s still upbeat and holds a lot of optimism.”
While “Crowded Room” is strong enough to stand on its own, French discloses that it “fits very well within the concept of my next EP, which is based around good things taking time and realizing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
In the meantime, French’s upcoming tour dates—the second part of his debut headlining tour named after his bright side of the moon EP—are below.
March 11: Madison, Wisconsin @ High Noon Saloon
March 12: St. Louis, Missouri @ The Ready Room
March 15: Grand Rapids, Michigan @ The Stache
March 17: Columbus, Ohio @ The Basement
March 18: Washington, D.C. @ DC9
March 19: Raleigh, North Carolina @ Kings
March 21: Orlando, Florida @ The Abbey
March 24: Austin, Texas @ Parish
April 21: Bloomington, Indiana @ Kilroy’s Sports