Artist Profile: Dylan Sinclair22 April 2020 / by Christina Flores-Chan (author)
Up-and-coming Toronto artist Dylan Sinclair’s music transports listeners into a lush, full-sounding R&B dream world — and nobody wants to wake up from it.
The artist’s voice feels like silk sheets on tired skin after a long day, accompanied by sometimes dense and sometimes weightless beats. The sound is then paired with honest, nightstand poetry for lyrics that make you want to close your eyes, lie back, and absorb his words in their entirety.
Sinclair, however, is wide awake. His eyes are open and as he watches years of hard work and passion getting recognized, his dreams are becoming a reality.
Earlier this year, Sinclair was named Apple Music’s “New Artist of the Week”, and one of his songs was featured on Spotify’s “Just Vibing” playlist, which has over 60,000 followers, as well as various other playlists on the site. His 2020 singles, “Home” and “Ask Me”, have also reached a combined total of over 500,000 streams on both streaming platforms.
Even with these recent breakthroughs in his career, the singer still remembers where his passion for music started. In an exclusive interview with CJRU, Sinclair recounted his discovery of his love for music.
“I started singing when I joined my church choir, at four years old. I grew up in the church, and that allowed me to explore music on a whole other level at such a young age. My faith has had such a huge influence on my life. In fact, half of my original songs are about God.” he said.
The singer also talked about his experience performing his first EP, “Red Like Crimson”, in front of a concert audience at SMPLFY Studio on Dundas St W.
“We were able to sell more than 200 tickets, which was just insane to witness coming to life. I remember opening the doors, and there was a long lineup along Dundas. I just thought to myself, ‘this is unreal,’” said Sinclair.
At just 18 years old, Dylan Sinclair has his whole life ahead of him, and he has chosen to dedicate the next few years entirely to pursuing his passion. The artist attended Ryerson University in 2019, majoring in creative industries, but ultimately decided to discontinue his studies after his first term.
“My family values education a lot, and so do I, but I also value timing. The timing was perfect with my music and the way everything was working out,” Sinclair explained. “It wasn’t an easy decision. I thought a lot about what other people thought of me, but that pressure just went straight into my writing,” he said. “I’m glad I was able to turn that pain into art.”
Sinclair’s newest single “Get Away”, released April 9 of this year, touches upon the stress he dealt with while contemplating whether to leave or stay enrolled in university.
“My whole life I had been a pretty academic kid and everyone in my life knew it, so it was hard to tell them I wanted to do music full-time.” He said. “I wrote this song with a friend of mine, Nadia, and it’s about escaping from all your problems. Lyrics like, ‘I’d like to roll a blunt and light it / Catch a ride on the moon tonight’ talk about taking a break for a second. The song ends with me realizing that this is the decision I’m making, and that whatever happens after that is in God’s hands.”
The singer says that his family, friends, and church community have been incredibly supportive of his music, and that he wants to make them proud. “I hope that my love for music can inspire others to pursue whatever they’re passionate about. At this age, we’re figuring out what we want to do with the rest of our lives, and I think what makes you happy is an important aspect to take into consideration when making that decision. I hope my music can help others come to that realization.” said Sinclair.Below is an excerpt from CJRU’s interview with Sinclair. His new single “Get Away” is now available on Spotify and Apple Music.
CJRU: Toronto has a pretty established hip hop and R&B culture, especially amongst the youth, so would you say that your city has helped shape your personal style or how it has evolved?
Sinclair: In terms of the sound of my music, it’s inspired by Gospel music which is pretty worldwide. It sounds the same wherever you’re from. But, in terms of what I write about, my writing is very personal to me and it’s about my environment, and that goes back to my upbringing and where I’m originally from, which is Thornhill. I definitely think that where I’ve grown up has shaped who I am, and my music reflects that.
Who are some of your biggest music influences?
My biggest inspirations date back to the 90s and early 2000s, like Brandy, D’Angelo, Musiq Soulchild, Lauryn Hill. Today’s influences would be Daniel Caesar, Summer Walker, PARTYNEXTDOOR — I love the honesty in his writing.
Are you an independent artist, or are you signed?
I’m independent by choice. I’ve had SONY Records, Columbia Records, Epic Records, and Atlantic Records hit me up but the goal is probably just to stay independent for as long as possible. I just want to have complete ownership of my songs and the creative freedom to do things in my own time.
Jordon Manswell is…
He is my manager/producer, and he’s executively produced anything that’s coming out within the next year or two. We’re trying to start our own record label right now, but he’s produced for Chris Brown, Daniel Caesar, Mariah Carey, and more. Other producers who I have to mention as well are Zach Simmonds and Alex Ernewein, who have both helped me immensely. They’re all such talented producers, and as much as the songs are my music, it’s our music as well.
Do you have a specific goal in mind when you put your music out there?
I’m very, very passionate about music and I hope that my love for music can inspire others to pursue whatever they’re passionate about. A lot of people think about the pressure and the comments they’re going to get if they decide to pursue what they really love. At this age, we’re figuring out what we want to do with the rest of our lives, and I think what makes you happy is something really important to consider when making that decision. I hope my music can help others come to that realization.