Interview: Dewy Sinatra

Posted on Sep 13th, 2013 in Features and Interviews, Dewy Sinatra / By Larry Day
Interview: Dewy Sinatra Dewy Sinatra, set to shake up Britain's hip-hop scene with his upcoming debut Emma, blends calculated rap flows with a neo-dance vibe. There's twinges of Ghostpoet, James Blake and The xx in his 4am soundscapes; it's the OST to wandering a city alone at night, exploring your own mind. Sonically, it's all clicks and wobs and soothing pads. One minute, Sinatra conjures thumping beats and screwed basslines, the next he's mining a vein of heart-wrenching emotion.

We're big fans of the rising star here at Bearded (here's our Introducing article oh him and his spectacularly chill playlist), so we were thoroughly pleased when he was able to answer a few questions for us. We learn about how his day job as a teacher has helped his lyrics, what he loves about James Blake and a bit about the work behind Emma...

Bearded: How did you get started in music?

Dewy Sinatra: My mum always played music growing up. One of my earliest memories of hip-hop was listening to The Score everyday – she'd play it in the kitchen off of this black JVC stereo. It's just something that was always around me, so around 14 I started messing around writing raps... I was terrible! Then as I got to about 15, Confessions came out and I was blown away by R&B and all I wanted to be was a songwriter. So that's where I started out. I spent £500 on a Pro Tools starter kit and started writing songs, and it went okay – some pretty dope producers sent me beats.

I went off to university and by chance entered an open mic might, just for kicks really, and that's when I really saw I wanted to make my own music, and have been 'til this day. My old manager (I won't say who...) said I'm only cut out to be a songwriter and should forget the artist thing... Glad I let the contract expire!

What/who have been your biggest influences?

Musically, Kanye West has been a huge influence on me. His story telling and attention to detail are things I always aim for in my music. When he brought out 808s & Heartbreak and just went for raw emotion it really changed the way I saw and wanted to create music. It was something daring and different, and for me that's what being a musician is all about: following your gut and doing something new, not worried about what's happening now. James Blake is also someone I love! The way he uses space and bass in his music is just crazy, he really pulls you into his world. I listen to a lot of The xx too, their use of ambience and minimalism is a big influence. It showed me you don't need a lot going on production wise to convey feeling and emotion.

How's Emma coming along?

Emma is coming along great! I've got 10 of the 12 tracks for it, just working on the last two which I'd say are 70% done. Now we're just fine-tuning the record and picking out the right features for few songs, then it's off to mixing and mastering. I'm aiming to have it complete by October. It's been a long process writing and eliminating songs, but it's been great seeing it finally take shape and become Emma from being just a bunch of ideas.

What can we expect from it?

You can expect a lot of emotion and feeling from this record. I set out to write something you feel. There's also a lot of storytelling on it too... I don't want to give too much away!

How are you writing and recording the tracks?

A lot of Emma was recorded in my bedroom in my little home studio, but the past few weeks I've been blessed with the opportunity to finish recording in Metropolis Studios which is great. I aimed not write any lyrics down for Emma, and just let it all out whilst recording... Not to be all “I'm like Jay-Z, I don't write lyrics down!” but it's how I thought I'd get the most honest lyrics and melodies out. One of the last songs I wrote for Emma, 'Empty Bottles', I wrote in my phone, whilst I was driving. It was a crazy experience, as at every stoplight I'd write like 3 or 4 lines.

What's the story behind 'I Need Love'?

'I Need Love' came about pretty randomly. I'd ran into a friend of mine from secondary school, and he told me he had heard some of the older stuff I'd put online and he liked it, and that he DJs. A few months later he messaged me on Facebook saying “I've got this beat would you like to try something over it?” As soon as I heard it I was in a zone. I opened up Garageband and recorded the lyrics on the track straight away. That was back in October 2012. He added another verse to the track, and I did the same thing as before and just recorded the first feeling that came out, and the song was done. Around January of this year I met with an amazing producer/engineer named Joe Kearns who I worked with on a few songs, and he mixed the track for me. It was mastered by a friend of mine and top mastering engineer Mazen Murad.

What's your favourite record this year?

No questions asked, it's James Blake's 'Retrograde'. Everything about that record is just amazing, I can't fault anything, I've never heard a hum so intoxicating! His whole album Overgrown is just phenomenal.

Do you think teaching has helped your music or vice versa?

I think it's really shown me that it's not about using big words and complex structures all the time, but just making people feel what you're saying. In hip-hop especially sometimes you get lost in the science of it, and lose the essence of making people feel and understand what you're saying, and teaching really reminded me that it doesn't matter how smart you may be, if the person you're teaching doesn't understand you, you haven't done your job. I think being involved in music made me a little cooler with the kids I taught because I wasn't too far removed from their culture. It always helps to be the guy in skinny jeans and Converse!

'I Need Love' is out now. Emma is due to storm the UK late 2013/early 2014.