Dive Bar Wisdom with Sinkane
After touring as a member of Yeasayer, of Montreal and Caribou, Ahmed Gallab picked up some buzz for his solo project Sinkane and eventually signed to DFA, where he released a couple albums that weren’t a million miles away from the bands he used to tour in. Now he’s back with a new label (City Slang) and a new sound. His new album Life & Livin’ It has Sinkane pulling from ’70s funk more directly than ever before, and — true to its title — it’s his most lively album yet. Ahmed said a main inspiration was listening back to his favorite Funkadelic records. And who knows, maybe he picked up a thing or two as a member of David Byrne’s William Onyeabor tribute band or while opening for Cymande. Not to mention he and his band got help from the horn section of Brooklyn Afrobeat band Antibalas, who know exactly what they’re doing with this kind of thing. In a world where some of the most popular and beloved artists around are pulling from ’70s funk and soul (Kendrick Lamar, the Knowles sisters, etc), Life & Livin’ It manages to be a throwback that also sounds very in the now. – Andrew Sacher
For the first edition of ‘Dive Bar Wisdom’ we caught up with Sinkane to talk about passed down knowledge and some of his favorite places to hang…
BV: Your musical influences changed greatly from your last release to the new one. Can you talk about who your musical influences have been for the newer stuff and how they’ve changed over time?
Sinkane: The things that influence me musically these days aren’t music. It’s experiences and how they make me feel. I want to translate those emotions into songs. It’s been really fun and challenging. Like asking myself, “What does the experience of me losing the Yeasayer Band computer while I was on acid sound like?” That one was really hard.
Were your grandparents (or a grandparent-like figure in your life) music fans or even musicians? Did any of the music they liked or played influence your own musical taste or style of music?
My mother’s father held big religious gatherings where we would recite religious stories. It sounded like singing to me and it gave me my first musical and spiritual experience at age 4 years old. My father’s mother was a poet. Other than that they all loved Sammy Davis Jr and Michael Jackson.
What is some worldly advice that a grandparent or grandparent-like figure gave you that’s stuck with you? How has that influenced how you think about life or music?
“You come from a nomadic people. You’ll never find your home. It will find you. And until then keep searching”
That one keeps unfolding as I grow up. Keeps me on my curious and inspired.
What is your favorite place to see or play live music in NYC?
I loved Zebulon. It felt like home to me and it’s a shame that it’s no longer around. It was a cultural melting pot unlike any other place NYC has ever seen. But, it’s ok. Things change. That’s what NYC is I guess. I like Music Hall of Williamsburg a lot. Great sound. I also like all the events on the beach.
What is your favorite Brooklyn dive bar and why?
Lowlands in Gowanus. It’s where everybody knows your name. No one is pretentious and everybody is unique. It’s the best bar in the world. So comfortable and easy and full of laughter on so many dimensions. Go there all the time.
Lowlands Bar, whose inside and outside is pictured above, is located at 534 3rd Ave in Brooklyn, NY.
Catch Sinkane on tour in a town near you, and hopefully one day headlining Music Hall of Williamsburg (he’s already headlined the similarly sized Bowery Ballroom). Meanwhile, his next NYC show is at this year’s Afropunk Fest.
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P.S. we miss Zebulon too!