Bridging Afropop and psychedelia with the smotherings of early 1970s soul, Sinkane has been making a career out of original Afrobeat fusions that have won him the raves of critics and audiences since his City Slang debut, 2012’s Mars (he released two prior indie albums on Emergency Umbrella Records). A multi-instrumentalist who has built his pop music on the influences of his Sudanese heritage, Sinkane has filled dancefloors with his gummy funk, near prog-rock inflections, and tropically-juiced falsetto.
His latest album Dépaysé is marked by a few drastic changes from his previous works. Deciding to switch up the registers, the singer performs in a more sobering tone, leveling his once heavenly high croon to an earthy tenor. As well, he pushes for more drum-shuffling rock to rub shoulders with the soaring Sudanese pop. Dépaysé is also pointedly more political, detailing Sinkane’s grievances as a man who has learned to navigate the circles of America’s conflicted cultures with resolve.
Lyrically, the album’s literal-minded narratives do away with metaphor to present stories as openly and honestly as possible. Refreshing, urgent and always necessary, Dépaysé is the sound of a one-person revolution that has begun not with the shots of a gun, but with the purposeful strums of a guitar. Sinkane answers PopMatters’ 20 Questions.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
I recently finished Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett. It really inspired me a lot. She’s amazing. I named one of the songs on Dépaysé after her podcast “On Being”. Her book talks about spirituality in a way that I’ve never really heard before. In a very real way. I definitely cried a few times while reading her book.
2. The fictional character most like you?
3. The greatest album, ever?
Oh man, really? There are so many records! I’ll give a few of my favorites:
– Funkadelic: America Eats Its Young
– Bob Marley: Kaya, Survival, Burnin‘
– Radiohead: Ok Computer
– Miles Davis: Big Fun
– Grateful Dead: Wake of The Flood
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek: The Next Generation
5. Your ideal brain food?
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I have a really good memory. I’m proud of it because it gives me the power to really fuck with people. You’ve been warned.
7. You want to be remembered for…?
I’d love to be remembered as a good friend and family member. Accountable for his own actions. Vulnerable. Honest. I’m not a perfect person, but I always aim to be my best self to my friends and family.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
My parents. They sacrificed everything for my sisters and me to have a safe life here in the United States.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
The movie Inside Out.
10. Your hidden talents …?
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
“Take your time.”
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I bought myself a custom guitar from Creston Lee a few years ago. It was the first time that I indulged in a guitar. Changed my life.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
Sweats at home watching VH1 Classic Albums.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
My band mates.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
The late 1960s/early 1970s Africa, Jamaica or Brazil. Playing with the Wailers, Sly and Robbie, Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Funkees, Joni Haastrap, Amanaz, and Jorge Ben.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
I try to meditate and read every morning when I get to my rehearsal space. I don’t always do this, but I have found this to be the best form of stress management.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or …?
Coffee all the way. It’s my biggest vice. Is it a vice, though?
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I love NYC. I can’t get enough of it. It’s my home. But I also do love a lake. Specifically the Swiss countryside. It is heaven to me.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Another Sinkane album.