Though it’s getting difficult with winter drawing in, Miink tries to wake up early – somewhere between 4AM and 5AM in the warmer months, when the sun rises. He has a routine: walk the dog, eat some healthy stuff, sink a coffee, then have a nap. After an hour or so, he gets up and does breakfast all over again: recently he’s got into croissants cooked and filled with north African lamb sausage and port salut. He likes cooking, he says, because it offers instant gratification.
“With music, the reward for your work doesn’t come until a lot later,” he tells me, “and it’s hard to see it at all because you’re already into the next project.” He’s sitting on the other end of a sofa, supping on a mug of green tea in an east London workspace/bar/restaurant/thing. The hard-to-genre-categorise British artist released his debut collection of songs this September, though he’s been working on them for years. “All For You” (which we’re premiering the video for below) has been reverberating around his brain since 2010, when he first started recording it – learning to create the heavily stylised music and videos he’s quickly becoming known for.
You see, Miink has a plan. He’s here for a long time, not a good time, to flip the phrase (although he probably is here for a good time too). He’s of the mindset that fans invest in the artist, rather than a genre – and certainly not off the back of one tune. He looks to people like Björk and Radiohead, whose delicate electronic tracks inform Small Clan’s intricate, haunting, soulful tapestry. Andre 3000 is an inspiration too, as is 50 Cent, his real idol – “people always laugh at me when I say that”. Miink’s music might be difficult to fit into one genre, but one immediate thing about it is its warmth. This is reflected in track names – “Heat On Me”, “Scorched Moth”, “Yellow Dust” – as much as it is the live-sounding drums and enveloping hooks.
Unlike the glut of young British creatives at the moment, Miink grew up in west – not east, or south – London. His family are huge, of Jamaican descent, and before he was born their house was the spot. “Not only was everyone growing up in there but neighbours would be around, people in the area would see it as their place,” he explains, hood up, hiding his distinctive hairstyle: two long, thin plaits. “So they would hold parties. Someone would set up a sound system in the basement, there’d be food for everyone. People would pay a little entrance fee and then have a massive party in the house so they could pay the rent sometimes.”
Miink’s family were properly into music too, making it as well as listening. Though he didn’t grow up in that house, he first remembers getting into music while skateboarding between two blocks, where his brother and his brother’s friend placed their speakers outward, blasting songs to each other – “some sort of soundclash.” He got into hip-hop, played the piano, hated the piano. Years later he worked as a tea boy in his uncle’s Ladbroke Grove studio where he learned the nuts and bolts of recording. “That’s what started me off. I had no option: making music was going to happen at some point, so I stuck with it.”
I mention a recent interview I’d read where someone (who I remembered as a cool arty reference, but retrospectively realise was, uh, Richard Curtis, director and writer of Notting Hill, Love, Actually, etc) mentioned that 99 percent of the things you create are rubbish. That’s why most people give up. But it’s the 1 percent that keeps you going. And the people who realise this often go on to create great things or at least have the necessary drive to work and work and work until the best bits come out. “Absolutely. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. Whoever is in it for the long run is going to see the benefits.”
And you do get the sense that Miink is a marathon artist. The 11 tracks on Small Clan are quietly brilliant, full of nuance. Electronic yet almost natural sounding, with shimmering production that glitters like sunlight reflecting off water and twinkles like wind chimes, they’re the aural equivalent of a small fountain filled park in the metropolis. It’s fantasy music, essentially, which is especially true of “All For You” – kicking off with a woozy reversed vocal, falling backwards into tight, bassy production. The video (watch above) was shot in Hong Kong and is edited in such a way that it resembles a dream sequence from a film, with distorted shots of Miink walking around a city paired with a live performance, a kind of surrealist memory, perhaps.
“I don’t watch films or TV but I am in my head a lot. I like to read. If I didn’t have something, I would make it. I didn’t have the music I wanted to listen to, so I created it,” And so Miink has ended up with a project where an element of fantasy, and of making his own reality, bleeds between his music, his artwork, how that artwork’s come about, and the way he directs and creates most of his videos. “I would like to go very fantasy with it if I had the budget, but those ones cost a lot more money. This a hint of it for now. It’ll get bigger and more into that territory.”
That said, he’s also an artist of the real world. Recently he’s been putting on a night at LayLow in Notting Hill which, despite being a member’s club, is a place he’s hoping to turn into a creative hub on the evenings when his Small Clan events take place. “I think people are too stuck in the internet these days. People didn’t think I existed until the other day,” he says laughing, as he talks about playing one of those LayLow gigs in the intimate, underground space. “I just want to get things happening in the real world.” Think of this release, this night (the next LayLow is on October 31), this video as the starter dish for Miink’s future – one where the gratification will build up healthily over time.
You can find Ryan on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.