Interview: Sinjin Hawke
Posted in Interviews
"People made music because they wanted to express themselves and let loose."
Producers who can fuse attributes of rap and R&B into the sounds of progressive electronic music will always have a soft spot in the hearts of LFTF, and right now, there's no one doing it better than Sinjin Hawke. Releasing a considerable amount of--mostly free--material through the waves of his Soundcloud over the past year, the Montreal producer has found a nice little niche for himself: turning traditionally non-club jams into dancefloor killers.
In preparation for his debut imminent dropping on Pelican Fly this November, Sinjin recently released this amazing eight-track compilation for the blog Truants of signature bootlegs he's created over the past year. The collection of tunes shows off the producer's versatility as well as his skill, morphing together a collage of music and sounds into eclectic club anthems. Along with the bootlegs, we spoke with the man himself about the compilation and his inspirations behind it.
Tell us a little about your roots. Did you grow up listening to hip-hop and r&b songs like the ones you've remixed?
Unfortunately, Khaled, Flocka and The-Dream weren't really around at the time but I remember having a few Brandy cassettes when I was growing up. From the age of 10 onwards I was listening to a lot of R&B and rap...a lot of Nas, Wu-Tang and MOP. I also got into some more hip-hop stuff like Gangstarr, Little Brother and some stuff coming from Def Jux and Stones Throw. I guess you could say that I was all over the map with my 'urban' tastes, but I was always way more focused on the instrumental and rhythmic aspects of the music then the lyrics or meanings behind the songs.
What interested you specifically to go in and remix all these big, mainstream r&b and hip-hop tunes? Was it basically you saying to yourself, "yeah this is really cool, but I wish they would've done that here and thrown this in there" or was it more of a "how cool would it be if I turned a Tevin Cambell joint into a crazy footwork jam?"
Yeah, it was definitely a bit of each of that. The footwork jam came about after spending some time with DJ Rashad when he was in Montreal. At the end of his stay we did a music swap and he gave me this "Ghettotekz Takeover" vocal drop and told me to make a song with it. At the time, Lil B had a song that sampled Tevin Campbell "Shhh" sped up a few semitones to about 160bpm (traditional footwork tempo). I loved the way it sounded at that speed, so I basically put two and two together and made a footwork re-interpretation using the vocal drop that Rashad had given me. I sent it to him afterwards and got a great reaction haha.
For most of the other tracks, I just wanted to be able to use them in my sets without losing energy. For instance, 'Fancy' by The-Dream is the undisputed heavyweight champion of modern R&B, this song is perfect in so many ways and I was almost afraid to touch it given its reverence. However, when I was DJ'ing I could never share the original of it with the crowd because it didn't work on the dancefloor. So I made this quick edit that I could play at my gigs, trying to change it as minimally as possible to keep the balance of the instruments etc. I'd love to give you the scoop on all of the them but i think it would take us all afternoon.
Who would be your dream collaborator?
At the moment I'm trying to get in touch with SpaceGhostPurrp, he's a rapper/producer from South Florida. I love his energy and would love to work with him, but at the moment it's kind of hard for a guy from the 'Electronic Dance Music' realm to reach out to somebody from the Rap realm, because there isn't so much connection between the two in terms of contacts, mentality, etc. I hope we start seeing a lot more cross-genre collaborations in the future as everything merges together.
Eluding to how dubstep has integrated itself into mainstream music over the past year, do you think we'll ever see the more eclectic stylings of club and bass music like the one's you've introduced here in these bootlegs (footwork, chicago house, UK bass) getting implemented into the mainstream? Or do you think they've started to already?
In a way, it seems that 'mainstream' and 'underground' are always inspiring and stealing from one another and they seem to be getting more and more harmonious with each other. If you look at it, chicago house seeped its way into practically every pop/dance record in the 90s, some traces of footwork were seen in Kanye's last album, and to be honest I don't fully understand the meaning of "UK Bass" but I wouldn't be surprised if it's been making its way into radio hits (I know that historically a lot of UK Garage was closely tied to Pop/R&B).
I'd love to eventually see a full re-emergence of the mainstream and underground because, until 100 years ago, there was no real separation between them. Back then there was no record industry, thus no economic incentives behind making music, and we had no need for a system of merchandising and overpromoting music. People made music because they wanted to express themselves and let loose. Similarly, i think 20 years from now our kids won't be paying for music, and hopefully they will all be making music to some extent.