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Name: Adam Bernard
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Sinkane Stays Soulful, Gets ‘Mean’
Thursday, August 28, 2014

While everyone else gets excited about the next release from the latest artist du jour, Sinkane vocalist and songwriter Ahmed Gallab can be found digging through crates and exploring music’s past. “It’s kind of like the ultimate bard of it all.”

“It tells a lot of different stories about where we came from, and where things are going, and everyone relates to music more than anything ever in the entire world. It’s a very universal concept, and understanding of how we be.”

The story of the soulful Gallab begins in Sudan, which is where he lived until the age of five, at which point he began moving all around the United States, including stops in Utah, and Ohio. During this time Gallab was still going back to Sudan each summer in what would turn out to be an annual trip for him up through his final year of college.

Once he became a touring artist, hitting the road with the likes of Yeasayer, Caribou, and of Montreal, Gallab found himself calling Brooklyn, NY, home. He landed in the borough almost by accident, as he explains, “My sister had moved to New York a year prior to when I was there. I was done touring for the year, and I didn’t have a place to live, so I just took a cab to her place and stayed on her couch until I got myself settled.”

It would turn out he didn’t have much time to get adjusted, as he notes, “It was a very serendipitous move. As soon as I got there I was offered to play in another band.” A month later Gallab was back on the road.

Spending a life in transit has affected Gallab in quite a few profound ways. “I think I have had a lot of troubles trying to understand who I am,” he says, pointing to his nomadic nature, “coming from a Sudanese background, and living in the United States, and there not being much of a large expat community here. Having a short amount of time back in Sudan every year, it made it a little bit confusing growing up. I didn’t know a lot of people like me. I didn’t know a lot of people who moved around as much as I did.”

Gallab continued, “A lot of my friends, when they go home these days, even still, they go home to the house they grew up in. I grew up in like four or five different houses, so I don’t really have that experience. I don’t really understand that kind of thing.”

According to Gallab, this has shaped him as a person, and an artist. “I felt like it kind of put me in a position to allow me to understand that I needed to blaze my own trail, and understand that I’m in a unique spot, and I have an opportunity that a lot of people don’t have, being bilingual, understanding two different cultures, having traveled all over the world.”

Some of Gallab’s life stories will be on display on Sinkane’s upcoming album, Mean Love, which is due out September 2nd. “It’s not easy to talk about yourself, and talk about things that are very personal to you,” he says of the writing process for the album, “so you’re kind of opening yourself up to the world, and letting them know, and being vulnerable to them.”

Gallab cites two of his favorite artists, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young, as musicians who are prime examples of such personal musical explorations. “I feel a connection to those kinds of records,” Gallab says, “and I kind of wanted to do a similar thing.”

For Gallab, this meant taking some risks. “I take a lot of risks,” he says of Mean Love, “I do a lot of things that aren’t really standard ... I feel like that’s because I’m very honest with it, and I play the music that I want to hear.”

One such risk is the album’s lead single, “Hold Tight.” “I wanted to write more universal music,” he explains, “and one of the things I felt I wanted to do out of that was to show different facets of myself. A lot of (my previous album) Mars showcases my African influences, and my African side, and a lot of Mean Love showcases my American influence, and my American Side, and I think that song presents that very well.”

“It’s another part of me,” he continued, “but it’s a different side that people, I hope, enjoy, and see that it’s directly correlated to the other.”

Not surprisingly, the lifelong road warrior will be touring in support of Mean Love, with an itinerary that has a September 4th start date in Berlin, and wraps up with a hometown show in NYC on November 2nd.

Some of Gallab’s previous tour experiences have included playing Coachella with Yeasayer, and meeting Gil Scott-Heron. His tours have also always included finding a new place to live every time he comes home. “Whenever I go on tour I always give up my place,” he explains, “just so I don’t have to worry about paying my rent.”

This creates a lack of roots, but roots are something Gallab has a unique view on. “I feel like it’s silly for me to look for something,” he says, “I think it’s gonna find me, in whatever capacity. New York is pretty close to that. I always say I’m gonna leave, but I never do, and the older I get, and the longer I stay here, the more I realize this is a great place to live ... It’s made me a better person.”

A person everyone will get to know a little bit better thanks to some Mean Love.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 2:15 PM  
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