Ahmed Gallab, a Sudanese-American born in London, has been exploring his roots through his music before, but never quite to the same extent and with this kind of clarity as on Dépaysé. Thanks to the realization that ‘in order to truly connect with other people, I first needed to connect with myself on a deeper level than before’, as he writes to explain the process behind his new album. Truly connecting with oneself is a longing many people share and probably only a few achieve on their way to getting to know themselves better.
One thing that has become very obvious whenever you listen to Sinkane‘s music is the fact that the songs have always been beaming with a colorful and dynamic vibe as well as an overall very diverse sound. Adding to this another element, Ahmed Gallab is teaming up with Mad Alchemy – an analog liquid light show while being on tour with Dépaysé. Mad Alchemy has performed with the top bands in psych rock and several other genres. Now Sinkane‘s live shows will benefit from the always moving and changing colours Mad Alchemy will provide.
Meeting Gallab on a recent press trip being held at his label’s office City Slang in Berlin, he explains the reasons for this collaboration:
‘They do some work with a few bands in the States. One of those bands I’m friends with. They’re called Grateful Shred – a Grateful Dead cover band. I went to see them live and I thought it was amazing. Then I saw some more footage and I said – this just has to be a thing. We have to figure this out because it will take the music to the next level. The most appealing thing is having someone doing these visuals live. They are able to interpret the music on the fly every single night and it makes for a kind of sensory overload situation. I thought it would be a lot of fun.’
‘The thing with live music is you can only take the music so far before you need to bring another element to really open the doors of creativity. When you go and see a band with a good light show, it’s a whole other experience. It makes everything so much more exciting. It gives new weight to the music.’
While the upcoming live shows will surely be a thrilling experience, we sat together with Ahmed Gallab to find out the spectrum of his aura colour and to learn more about his personality along the way. Whatever colours will be floating around in the back of the stage, they will meet the colour of Sinkane‘s aura that we determined with a little help of ‘online spirituality’ and a talk about the process of making Dépaysé.
The Test: Sinkane, what is your aura colour?
(Answers selected from a few pre-formulated choices)
1. How Do You See Yourself?
Selected answer: I really enjoy helping people; I’m a caregiver.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘I ask myself this question all the time.’
2. What Your Co-Workers Say About You?
Selected answer: You have a plan for every occasion. You’re the team leader for a reason.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘My bandmates would say I have very high expectations and perfectionist’s tendencies. A good team leader would have to be empathetic, not all sensitive, but also have a strong will, be aggressive, but knowing when you can be aggressive. I had to develop these skills. There was a time when I wasn’t a good leader. I had to learn how to be one. I think someone who goes into a leadership role being perfect at it that’s like a unicorn. Good leadership comes from experience.’
3. What Kind of Person Are You?
Selected answer: I’m the eternal student. I want to learn everything I can.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘I’m the rebel in the crowd? No! There is a few choices I connect with. I do practice creative visualization. I do believe I’m here to be of service to others. I’m not defined by one thing. During the making of this album I’ve learnt to let go of many things. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to be a complicated person and a complex person. Complexity exists in this world and I’ve found my peace with that. That was a huge one for me. It’s easier to let go instead of holding on to something. A lot of stress I’ve had in my life was being stubborn and holding on to these ideas or these things that were presented to me as a child. In letting it go, it’s all gone and I feel more free. Realizing that those were the things that were holding you back.
I would like to learn another language. Two actually. I would love to learn Spanish. I know a little but of French and I’d like to brush it up and become more fluent. I want to learn how to play my instruments better. That’s like an eternal quest for me. I want to be come a better musician, a better singer, a better guitar player, a better drummer…and I read a lot of books and I love learning about stuff – spirituality, history…’
4. How Would Your Friends Describe You?
Selected answer: You’re a saint. You are forgiving and generous.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘I feel a lot of these choices here.’
Forgiving is hard, don’t you think?
Ahmed Gallab: ‘Well, yes and no. I find that if I have any kind of negative relationship with someone, it only lasts for so long before I decide this is weighing me down, I don’t want to feel this way, I need to move on from this. And so, I need to have a conversation with that person and say I forgive everything. I don’t want to hold on to a grudge because it feels like a weight on my shoulders. It has happened to me several times and I’d say – oh, I’ll never speak to that person again, but it really starts weighing me down. I really can’t do this anymore.’
5. What Do You Love the Most?
Selected answer: Hiking and being in the great outdoors.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘Great outdoors is important.’
You recorded the last album Life & Livin’ It in Texas. Very close to the great outdoors.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘Same with this one, too. I recorded it in the same place. It was actually a bit different this time. It felt suffocating after a while which is funny because it’s in the middle of nowhere. After two weeks I was ready to come home. I was not into being there anymore. Whereas the last album after two weeks I was like – this is great. I remember the last day when I finished it, I felt like eeeeh, I need more people around me next time, I need to have more energy around me. It felt way so isolated. I don’t need the same kind of isolation anymore.
It was just so easy to record there. It was cheap. They have all of the best stuff. This time I was able to record with the things I wanted so I was really happy to record that way, but sometimes having the best things isn’t the right thing to do. Artists always do this: I recorded my first album with nothing, then I got the money and I recorded it at my dream place. Then you hear the record and it just sounds stale. It doesn’t have the same kind of soul.’
‘I feel like I really figured it out with this album and I’m really happy that I recorded it there, but moving on I have to do something different.’
6. Which Is the Real You?
Selected answer: I have a dream. I can see the future very clearly and know how to make my dreams come true.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘My ultimate thing – I knew I wanted to be a musician since I was ten years old. I played my first show when I was eleven years old and I’ve not looked back. My dream has always been to connect with people through music. I feel I’ve done a good job of starting to do that. Part of that vision and dream is to present a very open musical experience. My band is very diverse and many different people can see themselves in it.
The music is very diverse and very dynamic. My dream before working on this album was to kind of marry the two worlds I’ve created with my music, the live and the recorded. I felt like in doing that I’d be able to create a band that can be timeless. I think that I did that. This is the first time that we all recorded together from scratch. The bandmates were a little bit more involved this time around and it worked. This is an amazing new direction for us.’
7. What’s Your Achilles’ Heel?
Selected answer: I guess I don’t talk enough, because I get a sore throat when I talk too much.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘I’ve learnt that I needed to become a better communicator because there is a lot of things I think that I don’t say. Also there is a lot of things that I say that I don’t communicate as clearly as I could. It has a lot to do with feeling bad or not being able to stand up for myself. I’ve had to learn how to be better at that. That’s something I just continuously work on. I can’t say I’m the most amazing communicator, but it’s something that I kind of chip away.’
Your aura is largely blue. This color represents the throat, specifically the thyroid. If your aura is blue, you’re intuitive and you love helping people. You remain calm during crisis. Others lean on your support.
Ahmed Gallab: ‘That’s very true. I relate to it a lot.’
The new Sinkane album Dépaysé is out now via City Slang.