"Anyone can relate to my experiences. We are all connected" - hmv.com talks to Sinkane
Ahmed Gallab, better known as Sinkane, returns this week with his sixth solo collection. Best known as the Band Leader and Music Director of the Atomic Bomb! Band which plays the music of Nigerian Electro-Funk Legend William Onyeabor and counts the likes of Damon Albarn, David Byrne, Gotye and Bloc Party's Kele Okereke among its past contributors, Sinkane is also a brilliant musician in his own right, blending outlandish jazz with eccentric Sudanese pop.
We sat down with him to find out all about making his new album Life & Livin’ It...
How did you want this album to move on from what you did on Mean Love?
"I wanted to continue the ideas from Mean Love and Mars with this new album. But what sets it apart is the subject matter. This is my most personal album yet."
You self-produced the record, how did you find that process?
"I loved it. I feel like I have a strong vision for what the music should sound like and I like having the space and time to see my ideas through."
Or you good at giving yourself deadlines and structures to work within?
"Oh definitely, I love structure and routine."
What was the song on the album that took the longest to get right?
"That would be 'Deadweight', that took six years. I'm so glad it's finished!"
And which came together most quickly?
"I started writing the album last January. Some ideas, like 'Deadweight', had been floating around for ages but, once I sat down to work, I felt like everything came together super quickly. The entire process of writing the album took less than a year. That's the fastest I've ever done a record in my life."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Does it have a common theme?
"It's very personal. All of the songs are about my experiences as an African, American, Muslim and just general weirdo. But the themes are universal. Anyone can relate to my experiences. We are all connected."
What lyricists do you look to for inspiration? Are they the same ones you grew up listening to?
"I love James Mercer of The Shins. He paints such a beautifully eloquent picture with his words. It's the best kind of poetry. I love how heady he is but also just how classic is writing style is. I also love J. Spacemen's lyrics. At times they're like optical illusions. They'll seem to be about one thing but are actually about something else entirely. I love that!"
When did you settle on the title of Life & Livin’ It? And why?
"Greg (Lofaro, Sinkane's long-time collaborator) and I have wanted to use this title for a while. It seemed fitting with this album because... well... the album is about life & livin' it, innit? Our friend's band Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea used this title a long time ago for a record they made that never came out. We asked them to use it and they were kind to say yes. They have been a huge influence on us."
What are your plans to take the record out live?
"We're gonna tour a lot. We've added two new members: Amanda Khiri and Elenna Canlas who both sing (and Elenna plays keys as well) It's going to be great! It's the best we've ever sounded!"