News & Politics

WATCH: Here’s the Must-See Winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest

The Philharmonik will travel to DC to perform.

Photograph by Ted Eytan/Flickr.

The Philharmonik, the nom de plume of Sacramento-based singer-songwriter Christian Gates, is the winner of this year’s Tiny Desk Contest, NPR announced Wednesday.

Gates’s submission, “What’s It All Mean,” took home the crown out of 7,000 entries. As his reward, he’ll travel to DC next week to perform at the eponymous Tiny Desk, followed by a cross-country tour alongside a selection of fellow contest entrants this summer.

The song is a funky, existential romp, with Gates and his extensive backing band dressed in business casual, playing their instruments in an office.

“The desks weren’t only in the video to solely fulfill the requirements of the Tiny Desk Contest, but to also amplify the message of ‘What’s it all mean?’ and the existential question life poses to all people,” Gates told NPR. “I’m pretty sure most of us have pondered this question at a desk.”

This is the tenth iteration of the Tiny Desk Contest, first held in 2015. Fantastic Negrito, the inaugural winner, has gone on to win three Grammy awards; 2017 winners Tank and the Bangas have earned three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist in 2020.

Judges of the contest this year included Julien Baker, one-third of the indie pop sensation boygenius, as well as MUNA, fresh off of opening for Taylor Swift, and 2021 Tiny Desk Contest winner NEFFY, an Arlington native.

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow