Hailing from Toronto, Dylan Sinclair immersed himself in the imaginative worlds of R&B acts like Frank Ocean and Daniel Ceaser before finding his own voice, and thus music became an outlet. Unafraid to stay true to self and explore raw emotion, the now 20-year-old singer is on the brink of evolution within his career.
Back in 2020, the singer-songwriter released his sophomore effort Proverb, which helmed songs like “Home” and “Girl” which further propelled the project into popularity. The gospel-influenced release drew inspiration from the likes of Fred Hammond and Commissioned while maintaining R&B elements that fans alike have come to love Sinclair for. That following year, he tallied over 25 million global streams and was nominated for Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of The Year at the 2021 JUNO Awards. Since then, Dylan has unloaded a string of singles as his core audience continues to grow in size.
Today, Sinclair releases his eagerly-awaited third project No Longer in the Suburbs, a culmination of eight songs that reflect the singer’s departure from his suburban hometown to now living in the city. Production, which undoubtedly stands out throughout its entirety, comes from GRAMMY Award-winning producers Boi-1da, Jordon Manswell, and Marcus Semaj. Meanwhile, previously released songs like “Lifetime” and “Suppress” appear on the full-length alongside new cuts like the opening track “Rational” and records such as “Too Soon” and “How Dare I” among countless other surefire songs. The project, while only a stepping stone for what Dylan Sinclair has in store, places forth some of his strongest work to date.
In celebration of the new project, we sat down with the musician to discuss his approach to songwriting, the male perspective in R&B, coping with growing apart from loved ones, and more. Listen to Dylan Sinclair’s new project and read our interview below.
No Longer in the Suburbs, as you stated previously, is about the search for stimulation as you grow older. How did you figure out how to break free on this album? What are the things that you have overcome in order to get rid of old habits, or learn new ones?
I would say the most breaking free I did was not trying to make a certain type of music before, whereas now I’m a lot more open to trying new things. I focused on being as vulnerable as I can be and my vulnerability is maybe not what the next man’s looks like so let me unapologetically tell my story. It’s not really on the toxic R&B tempo, it’s more about who am I as a person. I’m a romantic guy, I fall in love so that’s what I’m going to write about and how it relates to my journey since I’ve moved to the city and how I want to do music for real.
On Twitter, there are a lot of conversations regarding music, one of them recently being what amount of tracks makes the perfect project. I’m curious to hear your thoughts and why you decided to go with eight songs for this release.
Eight songs has to do with where I’m at in my career. I feel like I wanted to just put one more EP together before I really get in with my guys and now I’m at a place with my songwriting abilities and ear where now we can put together an album. No Longer in the Suburbs was me still trying to figure out so I wanted to give them the best of what that looks like. Less is always more, and I know I’m going to want to put out another project within the next 18 months. If that’s the case, I might as well give you eight right now.
Among several of the standout tracks from the project, one element that undoubtedly stands out to me is the production. Can you expand on some of the production choices and your decision not to underbear nor underdeliver either?
My producers, first of all, I’m a really big fan of them. Jordan Manswell and Zack, who I work with very closely, and then there’s a bunch that I can name. I always wanted to go for the unfamiliar sound or something that doesn’t sound like anything you’ve heard so far. From there, I just add the smoothest cadences that I could possibly put on it. From a production standpoint, I wanted it to feel very cool and laid back because that’s how I’ve been feeling. I wanted to make music that resembled that energy that I was feeling like “Open” and “Suppress.”
On “Lifetime,” you open up about the fear of growing up and subsequently, people potentially not liking or rather growing disdain for the person that you’re becoming. How do you cope with that ever-so feeling of losing loved ones as a result of growing in different directions?
I wrote that in LA and that was a time when I was pretty stressed out, figuring out what type of person do I want to be and what type of life do I want to live. There’s not one particular moment when you can decide and be confident in your choice, but you just have go with what you feel in that moment. Just making sure that you don’t get too anxious about stuff like that.
That was a high anxiety moment for me and that was also, I wrote it generally for the most part, but it was definitely about my girlfriend and figuring out what does that look like. There’s a life that comes in being in entertainment and sometimes you can’t help the change that comes in certain environments. I’m still trying to figure it out for the most part, but I feel pretty grounded for the most part.
The lyrics have such a poetic quality to them. How do you go about approaching the writing process?
It’s kind of like therapy to me where if I didn’t have the ability to songwrite, I wouldn’t be able to express those feelings. I pretty much get to the emos honest part of me and lay that out on the song. I try to say it how I want to speak it; I don’t try to be too poetic because that can kind of takeaway from what comes with that.
I also feel like—and this is something we previously spoke with singer Brandon Banks about—the Gen-Z male perspective in R&B is very important to the genre due to how you’re able to convey emotions such as love and self-deprecation in a way that’s seemingly difficult in other genres. What are your thoughts on that?
Women are killing it right now. I’m a huge SZA fan, she’s really doing it. Jazmine Sullivan is amazing at what she does. Women are very good at being vulnerable and I want to bring that to the men’s side. I believe there’s certain artists that can really do it, but I have no ego going into this.
I’m just writing my opinions and how I want to be seen in R&B, I can’t really decide, but I want to be in the conversation of someone who doesn’t perform and just… If I can just be one of those R&B heads that makes art. Frank Ocean is the GOAT to me. He is an artist, I want to approach my music in that manner.
Lastly, what story are you hoping to tell through this EP, and furthermore, what are you hoping that the listener can gain from your music?
I just want people, with the level of vulnerability that I was able to bring, to be more comfortable with their emotions for one. I want them to care more about just how you process your emotions, it says a lot about who you are as a possible. Then, just talking on my new experiences, I want people to do the same thing. Move out of your comfort zone, the suburbs is where I grew up, for the most part, I’ve learned a lot from being in the city by myself. I want people to be open to new experiences, remain curious, and try new things.
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