Sinkane founder and frontman Ahmed Gallab may be coming under the radar of many with his third studio album, Mean Love, but his affinity with music goes way back. Born in Sudan to a musically talented family, Gallab started playing drums as a kid and moved on to other instruments around the time of his high school years in Colombus, OH. After kicking around with hardcore punk bands throughout college, the multi-instrumentalist started working as a session musician with acts like Yeasayer and Caribou while working on his own project, Sinkane on the side. Fast-forward seven years of honing Sinkane’s sound, we are drooling over his own brand of bass-heavy, percussion-laden, synthful pop. We caught up with Gallab on the eve of his North American tour, and found out more about the man behind the sweet tunes (including what’s playing on his own headphones).
Read our interview below then scroll down for your chance to see Sinkane live in your city!
How did you come up with the moniker ‘Sinkane’?
I misheard a lyric in Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down” from his first album. There, the rapper J-Ivy raps a line that says “I’m tryna give us ‘us free’ like Cinqué,” where he refers to Joseph Cinqué who was a slave who was on the La Amistad ship, but I misheard it as “Sinkane.” I then started to fabricate this story about him being a monolithic African god that inspired the entire continent of Africa, passed down from generation to generation. When I finally bothered to look at the lyrics online, I realized there was no person in the world called Sinkane, at all. It was all in my head.
What do you think is the biggest difference between your former album Mars, and your latest, Mean Love?
The Mars record was a little less about me and more about creating a world for people like me. With Mars, I was really focused on the music, and with this album I was really focused on the message. I wanted to make the message very simple and make the music more easily digestible this time around.
You are a multi-instrumentalist – do you have any other creative outlets other than music?
I like to cook and eat. Cooking is just like creating a song–there are all these different ingredients that you need to make work in harmony together. When it works, it’s very magical and special with a song, and it’s even more so with food because that’s like a primal instinct, everyone has to eat.
What was the last thing or event that inspired you?
Being a part of the William Onyeabor project this year has been really great. Working with musicians like David Byrne, Damon Albarn, and all of us, involved kind of turning into a family, [and it] has been very inspiring. It’s allowed me to understand that there are people who truly do believe in music and want to promote really good music, and will do whatever they can to do it.
Do you look forward to touring around the US?
I love to tour and I love to play shows, it helps me connect with people all over the world. I like to see how people relate to the music, it’s the best.
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