Ahmed Gallab emigrated from Sudan to the US when he was five years old. In high school, he became immersed in the DIY punk and hardcore scene, playing in several bands. On his latest album MARS he mixes a wide array of sounds and brings about a new and different kind of world music.
What led you to start your own project?
In high school I played music all the time, and later in college I got really serious about touring and was heavily involved in punk. I was always playing with other people and in 2006 I felt I had come to a place where I wanted to create music based on my own personal ideas. That’s how Sinkane started.
How did you come to work with Caribou?
In 2008 I went to one of their shows in Queens with a friend of mine and gave Dan Snaith my album. He seemed to like it a lot, he responded a few month later and from there we became friends. Then their drummer broke his wrist and they needed a replacement, so I started touring with them.
Did you also work on your own stuff back then?
I was releasing my first album Color Voice while I started to get really busy playing music live.
Your new album sounds like it was produced forty years ago. Did you use a lot of old hardware?
No, totally not! I spent a lot of my time crafting sounds, but it wasn’t as elaborate as you might imagine. I recorded it all on my laptop… there weren’t any crazy mic-techniques or amps, I just plugged in and played. There’s no romantic story behind it.
What’s influential for you on this album?
I listened to a lot of spiritual jazz when I was starting Sinkane throughout the process of recording. When I started working on the new album Jason Trammell, who plays drums in the band, put me on to Holado Negro and he was a huge influence! He is so good at what he does. His music is just beautiful.
Why the name MARS?
It’s about my experience of moving to New York. I was having a really hard time making friends, so I spent a lot of time working. I felt like I was in this desolate place and that shaped a lot of the songs. I spent every single day just working nine to five on the music. I just tried to find this place where I was comfortable, and it took me some time. The name MARS is just a reference to something alien, desolate or far away.
Isn’t Mars also the god of war in greek mythology?
You are the first person to say that, and I never thought about it that way. A lot of people think deeply into the album title, but it’s not meant to be that way.~
Sinkane’s Album MARS is out now on Cityslang.
Published December 14, 2012. Words by Michael Aniser.