A misplaced sense of time and emotion blurs like white noise. Fractured but soothing sounds resonate from Jamaican-British multi-instrumentalist, producer, writer and vocalist Miink's ambient and experimental melodies composed from his laptop—usually located in his bedroom in Richmond. Manipulating sonics to conjure fleeting, impactful feeling, Miink makes music to unite his listeners, to inspire self-acceptance and challenge thoughts; interpretive and introspective, he suggests that his music is best experienced alone.
Pressing play on any of Miink's videos, "Scorched Moth", "Yellow Dust" or "Who Are You?", reveals a world of intrigue and self-exploration. Representing the irreverent artist and man he has become today, a textured and unique vision—rich in references and tastes—comes into focus from first listen on a Miink composition. Inspired heavily by The Neptunes, Miink is self-taught in every aspect of his craft; with no hint of ego or glimpse into the grand plan for his ambitious project, a multi-layered future looks set to place this visionary at the helm of the bravest new sounds in music. Most content working on his solo music, he was involved as a behind the scenes producer for quite some time and only now has taken that bold leap of faith and gone it alone. Stepping into the spotlight at last, Miink is a man to take notice of—Complex caught up with the double-braided maverick to chat about his way forward.
Where are you currently based?
I'm in Richmond today. I'm supposed to be doing work, but I'm just sat around listening to music instead.
What are you listening to?
I've been playing the J Rock album non-stop; I'm really into that. There's a sample on the second track of the album... I found where the sample was from and listened to that track. It's called "ORI".
Are you looking for inspiration?
I just liked that sample and I had no idea where it was from so I've become caught in a little listening spree.
What's the work/deadline schedule like right now?
It's all in my own time, really. I'm doing it all myself; I'm not too stressed. I'm sure I want to make two albums this year and, right now, one of them is finished so I'm just mixing the other. I am six tracks through so I am ahead of schedule.
Why two albums?
I don't know... As a new artist, right now, it is more beneficial to get more material out there. There's so much material around already so it's easier for music to just get lost so I might as well solidify myself, rather than just come out with an EP or release little bits here and there. It's better for the live shows to have a wider catalogue, too. You can experiment with what really works. If I only released five tracks and then toured them live and one didn't translate to the stage well, it would narrow my options.
I want my music to be something intimate for people to experience for themselves and for them to take it and feel it, rather than intellectualise it.
How is the live show engineered?
Basically, I pre-make the instrumentals on the PC drum machine, then replay it in bit-by-bit and layer vocals after that. I first learnt to play the piano years ago, then, like a bad little kid, I decided I was going to quit—plus my older brothers quit. I instantly regretted it and I had to teach myself from then on. I started to just pick up instruments and learn how to use them to work with my sound; I get the noise I need to find out of the instrument I choose at the time, rather than aspire to be the best on one instrument. There are some people out there who can really play. For me, it depends on how things are going at the time. Sometimes l pick up an instrument and play one sound. I can like what I hear and record that basic sound and work off the back of that. Sometimes, if I sit at a piano, I can play, but I may not record what I experiment with.
There's so much philosophy to your music. Is there a manifesto behind it all?
To tell the truth, the lyrics always come out best when I don't write them down. I can't seem to get lyrics right all the time; I must just have something on my mind when it comes out right. I'll be singing the melody, so I don't forget it, and slotting in words as it comes to mind, making sure I don't forget it all. When I need to get something off my mind, I sit down and it's done. After that, I feel relieved and I can move on.
Why did you first start making your own music?
I was producing full time. These days, the world of the producer has changed and anyone who has a laptop is a producer. So I found myself doing a lot of things that I didn't want to do; people picking and choosing between which of my skills to use on a project when I was into a piece of work as a whole. Getting an album that has a message and meaning, with an image and a sound, is exactly what I'm into. I found myself looking around and thinking where has that gone. All my favourite artists are producers themselves, so that was what led me to believe I needed to go into that lane and make it a full project. I didn't want to just be doing these little bits that bored me.
When you talk about the message behind and meaning of your work, how would you encapsulate that?
That's a difficult one. The image comes from my own personal taste. That just comes naturally, considering I am the artist. I just do the things I like, and my tastes come out as an already formed product. I think I've moved in a visual way for a long time. Along with music, visuals come as importantly with aesthetic.
What environments or states of mind do you imagine your music is best experienced within?
It's alone music. It's personal. It's something that you can share with someone, but I don't think you would really gather people and play this at a party. I got a message on my SoundCloud years ago; there were a lot of people saying that my music was cool, but then there was someone who messaged me and said how my music really helped their day, and I think that's the more important thing. That's what I'm chasing. I want my music to be something intimate for people to experience for themselves and for them to take it and feel it, rather than intellectualise it. You don't always need to understand it—sometimes, you can just feel something.
For the music that you make, are you more heavily influenced by one medium compared to another—like film, art or sound?
It's more of a cultural thing. I think feeling lost is important. Today, I don't think cultures have enough time to develop because they usually make their way onto the internet and explode before they can really make their way into something. But I think it is important for everything to come together, to explain who you are through the way you dress, why you look the way you look, to communicate who you are, so we're able to understand each other better.
How do you identify your own culture?
I would say it's a heterotopia. It's a mix of in-between stuff. I'm mixed race myself: half Jamaican, half British. And I think that has always been a key thing for me—I've been able to move around worlds and understand things from two different perspectives. At the same time, there's that same thing of not entirely belonging to anything either. I think that's one thing I identify as being a part of my identity, being part of two worlds, but essentially part of nothing also. That's essentially what the music is, a mix of two things: putting two worlds together, which shouldn't work but comes out as something better.
Watching yourself back on camera, sharing the music and acknowledging what you're creating as a result of that fracture you feel between two worlds, does that reconcile your feeling of a difference?
I feel like I understand myself quite well, but the message I really want to get across is that people like to look for difference and, really, there are more similarities than there are differences. No one likes to talk about the similarities, though, and that's essentially what I want to put across the most poignantly.
Have you got an album release date?
End of August. I'm trying to push it forward so I can focus on the second album. I have half of this first one done, and I'm switching things up with the second half, focussing back on the songwriting then producing after, rather than making a beat and singing on top of it. I hope to work with more producers on the second album and make it a bigger thing. This one literally hasn't left my computer. It's been quite a lonely process; it's all just me. But when I've established who or what I am, I can step off a bit and allow more producers to collaborate. It's hard to balance so many plates, but I want things to grow.