For the latest in our Creative Conversations series, E&M had a chat with London-based musician Don Sinini and covered topics large and small, from his favourite lyrics to what will happen after Brexit.
E&M: First things first – who is ‘Don Sinini’?
Don Sinini: I see Don Sinini as different from my everyday self, kind of like an alter ego, showing sides of myself that I don’t feel comfortable expressing normally.
E&M: And what does Don Sinini sound like? If our readers had to go and listen to one of your songs right now, which one should they listen to first?
Don Sinini: Yiapiss – it’s an older song, released in summer 2018. But for me, it’s my favourite and most relaxing song.
E&M: You write your own songs, both melody and lyrics. From everything you have written, which lyric best encapsulates you and your work?
Don Sinini: A recent lyric I made, was “can’t really test with the team, we flowing nice like stream.” As I grow older, I increasingly appreciate nature and I now enjoy my music most when I listen to it in a natural environment. So I was really happy to incorporate a reference to it.
E&M: “Don Sinini” is a rather unusual name, where does it come from?
Don Sinini: It’s hard to pinpoint a precise moment, but the word ‘don’ and the suffix ‘ini’ have been part of my vernacular and how I speak to friends for ages. I also remember finding a juice brand while at school called ‘Don Simon’ and to me it sounded cool and memorable. So I changed my Soundcloud name to ‘Don Sinini’ about 5/6 years ago. At the time I had been changing my monikers a lot and I thought it would be like the previous ones, interesting but not ‘the one.’’ However, I stuck with ‘Don Sinini’ and now I love it!
E&M: Your music is very eclectic and multicultural. Which cultures and sounds influence you the most?
Don Sinini: I see music like communication, one of those spheres in which you see that humans are one big family. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or which language is spoken, it’s the music itself that we resonate with. Any music I hear, whether it be Latin, Sudanese, Chinese or whatever, I appreciate especially if its melodic.
E&M: What about your own background; having grown up in London – how has that influenced you and your music?
Don Sinini: Growing up in London and experiencing its diverse culture definitively laid the foundation for my music being eclectic. I love London urban music including rap, drill, dancehall, and everything in between, so that also influences my musical choices. Moreover, the way people communicate in London is a big influence on my vocals as I use vocabulary, accent, and cadence common with the MLE dialect.
E&M: Do you expect this to be any different after Brexit?
Don Sinini: I can see travel being an obstacle. So far, I have been able to easily play shows across Europe, which will probably become much less straightforward after Brexit. It will also affect my ability to collaborate physically with artists outside the country. But despite Brexit, I still believe we will continue to forge connections if the motivation is strong enough.
E&M: How so?
Don Sinini: We still have the Internet which in my career has been crucial because it allows people from all over the world to connect and listen. With the internet, I have faith that artists will develop a mindset that goes beyond borders and allows them to continue collaborating.
E&M: Many of your songs indeed are collaborations with other artists, in the UK and beyond. How do these come to be?
Don Sinini: My collaborations mostly begin through social media; either someone reaches out and expresses interest or I am put in touch with artists through mutual friends. After that, we meet up and work on things at the studio.
E&M : You mentioned that your music has taken you all across Europe – what’s your favourite memory from being on the road?
Don Sinini: I love performing in Europe; Barcelona is definitely up there but I would say Talinn in Estonia was the most memorable as it was my first international gig. It was such a different place from anything I knew; it was fully light outside until midnight and stayed dark for only two hours, the scenery was eerily beautiful. And the feedback I received after my show was very touching as it was unexpected; I was amazed to be relevant in what seemed like such a different world.
E&M: Who is your favorite artist? And why?
Don Sinini: There are many artists who I love, but if I had to pick I would say vybz kartel. He has a huge discography and I discover many great songs year after year. As a vocalist in the Dancehall realm, I think he is probably the most talented I know and was the reason I first attempted vocals, simply to imitate his songs. Also, his live performances are amazing.
E&M: Being a young artist isn’t always easy. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don Sinini: Something I have learnt through my own and others’ experience is to be detached from the musical journey, as it is very stop-start, with many highs and lows. One minute you can receive a lot of love, encouragement, and growth, whilst the next there can be complete stagnation.
For me, the solution is to go back to basics and create music for the sake of enjoyment, rather than success, recognition, or money. Not being anchored to these external factors enables me to create better music and helps my self-esteem.
E&M: What’s next for Don Sinini?
Don Sinini: I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, with the hope that I can really establish myself and make Don Sinini into a viable career.
Many thanks to Don Sinini. Some answers have been edited for brevity or clarity.
Cover photo: Courtesy of Don Sinini