In new single “U’Huh”, Sinkane shares a much-needed dose of optimism, repeating the refrain “We’re all gonna be alright / Kulu shi tamaam,” with lyrics in Arabic, Ahmed’s native tongue.
Sinkane will release a new studio album ‘Life & Livin’ It’ on February 10th, 2017 worldwide via City Slang. The New York-based project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Ahmed Gallab – featuring Ish Montgomery (bass), Jason Trammell (drums), Jonny Lam (guitar), and now joined by Amanda Khiri (vocals) and Elenna Canlas (keys and vocals) – has also announced their initial headlining tour dates of 2017, including shows in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Europe, Australia, and more (routing below). Premiering today at NPR Music, the Nick Bentgen-directed video for the album’s first single, “U’Huh,” is a powerful celebration of perseverance and was shot at Brooklyn’s Union Pool and Lowlands. “Ahmed is an incredible musician. The timeless nature of the song felt like a period piece was appropriate visual accompaniment. The newsreels on TV depict social unrest in Detroit and Newark in 1967,” said director Bentgen. “This song moved me. We’re all gonna be alright.” Watch it and read Gallab’s statement about the video and song below:
“Kulu shi tamaam” is an Arabic phrase meaning “Everything is great!” Times are tough. Struggles have always existed in our lives. But hope, love and the power of positivity help us stay alive. It is what inspires me to wake up in the morning, make music, and, ultimately, connect with people.
‘To my sisters who ache,
My brothers losing strength
We don’t need to be saved
We’ll make our own way.
Kulu shi tamaam!
As long as we try
We’re all going to be alright’
Big love from the Sinkane family.” – Ahmed Gallab
Sinkane music — every note of it — comes straight out of a generosity of spirit. Never has that spirit been on more vivid display than on the uplifting new album, ‘Life & Livin’ It.’ This is feel-good music for trying times, celebrating what makes life good without ignoring what makes it hard.
Recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas, and once again produced by Gallab with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, ‘Life & Livin’ It’ draws from the best elements of Sinkane’s previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane’s live show is a central feeling of the recordings. The four core members of Sinkane sang and play additional parts on every song, with Trammell contributing lyrics to “Theme from Life & Livin’ It,” and Lam helping with arrangements. Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns.
‘Life & Livin’ It’ is the follow-up to Sinkane’s acclaimed 2015 album ‘Mean Love,’ for which Ahmed and the band played 166 shows in 20 countries, including Gallab’s time leading The Atomic Bomb Band — the highly celebrated 15-piece outfit that played the music of elusive Nigerian electro-funk maestro William Onyeabor. The band included David Byrne, Damon Albarn, members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Jamie Lidell and legendary jazz musicians Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd, and they played all over the planet, including making their TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “Those 14 months really changed my life,” Ahmed says. “Not only did I learn how to put on a bigger show, but all that touring brought Sinkane closer as a band.”
As Ahmed got into the depths of writing for ‘Life & Livin’ It,’ he had a clear goal: to conjure the ups and downs of a universal experience, and have fun while doing it. Ahmed’s primary intention was to make music that is joyous, but also socially conscious when you scratch beneath the surface. “I would listen to my favorite records, like Funkadelic’s ‘America Eats Its Young,’ and realize how great they made me feel. That carefree, light and fun feeling I was getting while writing this record is what I want everyone to feel when they listen to it.”
The first single “U’Huh” and “Theme from Life & Livin’ It” conjure up the simple pleasures of hanging with friends, but there are heavier vibes in there. Ahmed says, “I remember listening to Bob Marley as a child. Dancing with my family in our living room and then my mother telling me what issues he was addressing, and that it was important to remember those things while listening. It made the music even better because it became about something more.” “U’Huh,” along with “Favorite Song”, has lyrics sung in Arabic, Ahmed’s native tongue. “It’s really easy to understand the tone of those words,” Ahmed adds. “They just feel good, you don’t have to know what they mean. It’s kind of like listening to Caetano Veloso or Jorge Ben — you don’t have to know Portuguese to feel what they’re saying.”
True to its name, ‘Life & Livin’ It’ is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Ahmed Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Ahmed is now firmly grounded on Earth. He’s no longer searching for his home — he has created a home for himself. There’s a party there, and ‘Life & Livin’ It’ is playing on the stereo. You are invited.
‘Life & Livin’ It’ tracklist:
3. Favorite Song
7. Theme from Life & Livin’ It
8. Won’t Follow
9. The Way
Sinkane 2017 World Tour:
2/15 – Portland, ME @ Space Gallery
2/16 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
2/17 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
2/18 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat
2/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
2/21 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
2/22 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement
2/23 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
2/24 – Dearborn, MI @ Arab American National Museum
2/28 – Seattle, WA @ The Tractor
3/01 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
3/03 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
3/04 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater
3/05 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
3/10-13 – Adelaide, AU @ Botanic Park for WOMADelaide
3/17-19 – New Plymouth, NZ @ WOMAD NZ
3/29 – London, UK @ The Dome
3/30 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephemere
4/01 – Amsterdam, NL @ Sugar Factory
4/02 – Berlin, DE @ Volksbuhne Theatre
4/03 – Cologne, DE @ Gebaude 9
4/04 – Heidelberg, DE @ Karlstorbahnhof
4/05 – Munich, DE @ Kammerspiele
4/06 – Zurich, CH @ Bogen F
4/07 – Milan, IT @ Biko Club
4/08 – Roma, IT @ Auditorium Parco della Musica
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