ASBO Meets: Sainvil

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When it comes to modern approaches to R&B, artists seemingly attempt to innovate or replicate a sound until that particular trend dies. Enter Sainvil. Born in Little Haiti, Miami, Sainvil is an uber-talented singer-songwriter who has made more than a name for himself. Authentically fresh and conceptually driven, Sainvil creates introspective and hard-hitting anthems that detail the events of both his internal and external world. Constantly evolving, his sound is entirely unpinnable, never stagnant and signed with his instantly recognisable and impactful vocal and lyrical prowess. Today marks the release of his latest single entitled 'Oouu' produced by Nick Bane, Eightsarewild, and Omar Grand and is the second single on his upcoming EP 'They're All Goblins' set to release next month. Ahead of the project, we spoke to Sainvil about his journey so far and future plans.

So you're originally from Little Haiti, Miami. You've previously stated that Haitian culture is instilled with the belief of getting a 'normal' job and working for someone else. Do you think growing up in that cultural environment caused you to seek out other avenues, or were you always a creative soul?

I think I was always a creative soul. Growing up in that environment helped push me out of that way of thinking because I was constantly witnessing the type of lives that my mother and all the rest of my relatives were living. I didn't get to know my mom very well growing up. She had to work two jobs because my father passed when I was young, meaning I only really saw her when she was coming or going from work. I want to be fully present and conscious in my life for myself and others. You experience more that way. I want to help the people I care about so they don't have to live life that way. I think creatives are richer in time because we get to do stuff that we care about rather than donate our time to things we don't.

Do you have a defining moment where you knew you wanted to make music as a career?

The defining moment for me probably came from when I used to sing around the house all the time. My mom always shouted, "Shut Up!" from like five rooms over, haha. I was singing around the house one day, and she was grooving to my voice, and I thought, I guess I'm not that bad. So I started singing and making songs for my enjoyment until 2016, and shortly after, I knew that I wanted to make music forever. Up until then, it was like a sport for me, like a game of basketball. It was something that I just truly loved. It was just for my friends and me at first, honestly.

I know you state Micheal Jackson, The Dream and Jay-Z as some of your biggest inspirations, but who or what inspires you these days in life?

Donald Glover, Kanye West and Tyler The Creator all inspire me a lot currently. They consistently attack things from a purely artistic perspective, which is what I always aspire to do. I want to be able to bring true art to the game. Donald Glover has transcended over into acting and show writing which is something I am interested in myself. I don't want to be one dimensional. When I'm writing a track, I'm already visualising the music video and mentally seeing how I would be performing the said track. I strive to reach higher levels to get the budget to bring specific performances and aspects to a live audience.

So you recently released 'On My Own' featuring BEAM, which is the first single off of your upcoming EP. Can you tell us a bit about the track and the forthcoming EP's themes?

This project is basically about self. It's intended to have the listener reflect on themselves and take a step back, draw out their life and think, what are my goblins? The whole theme is about the things that stop you from being true to yourself. Whether it's revealing a part of your personality, a facet of your life, an interest or a hobby, you know that you are afraid of being judged on whether they're all garbage. Those things are your goblins. We're going to start by revealing a couple of art pieces that give you a view of what these goblins are like with spoken word pieces attached to them.

You describe yourself as an R&B artist, but your sound encapsulates a wide array of different genres. Are you trying to push existing boundaries or make something people can't box in when it comes to the genre?

I'm trying to do a little bit of both. I only consider myself an R&B artist because I feel like most people in hip hop now are rappers who do melodic singing. I consider myself a singer who can rap. Sometimes I feel the need to rap because that best portrays the emotion I'm trying to push forward. I still always try to pull it back to wording things to make the listener reflect on themselves.

So I read in one of your interviews that therapy has helped let you feel more comfortable with sharing vulnerability and letting your guard down as a man. What are your thoughts on the toxic masculinity found in the black community and the R&B genre?

I've recently learned that the key to people liking you as an artist is vulnerability. That constantly 24/7 macho shit is just not realistic. If that is your life, I feel bad for you. It's damaging on so many levels. Most of the time, we tell the truth to our homeboys, but when we're playing the story back, there's a layer of pride protection that you add to the story, you might not necessarily lie, but you are not revealing all of the parts where you might look stupid or weak. So I figured if I started showing more of that in songs, more people could relate.

Therapy has been a big part of that because it taught me that letting things go makes you breathe better, feel better, walk better and live better. I think toxic masculinity stops us a lot of the time from letting things go because we equate being truthful with letting our guard down. Our type of sensitivity always has to do with ego and how we look at ourselves.

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So I know you were the first R&B artist to be signed to Alamo. Can you tell me a bit about the process of that?

It was fantastic, mainly because at the time, I only had like, 2000 followers across platforms. They're a very unorthodox label, which I love. They allow me to switch musical approaches when I feel like I want to do something different. It's not one of those label situations where they're too much in your bids. I want to be able to create as freely as possible, and they support that.

Describe your perfect day?

I like to get up early to make music, but I feel like I make my best music at night. I'd get ready and go to the studio first thing. I work with the same guys all the time. We're like a basketball team, haha. We have guest stars that come in and tag in and help us for the day, but for the most part, it's three guys, including me. We tend to do a 12-hour session in the studio. We bullshit for two, then knock out five songs. Also, ordering food is a must. By the end of the day, we sometimes have eight new songs. It's crazy.

How do you think the past couple of years have affected your artistry? Between the lockdown and the black lives matter movement, it's been difficult for people to handle and quite traumatic at times? What lessons have you pulled from that time?

I've learned more about myself and what's important to me. When we made the '2020 Was Hijacked' EP, I never intended to do a whole project about the current state of the world, but I learned through that how much I care about current affairs. I've also focused more on my mental and physical health, and I like to get my meditation in every day. This time is either making you or breaking you. You've got to try and make shit happen.

What would you say is the most challenging and rewarding part of being an artist today, in your opinion?

The most challenging part, personally, is having to create tik toks and reels, haha, but it is what it is. I think the most rewarding part is when people appreciate the art that I put out. It feels good. Also, seeing the end product of something you collaborate with people on. Those two are my top two.

What can we expect next with the upcoming project in the pipeline?

So we have three music videos coming out. These videos are going to be crazy. One of which is my favourite song on the whole project and acts as a kind of break from the more serious tone of the project. Then I have a new video that is dropping featuring a very dope artist called Yung Baby Tate. More shows whenever we can also. I'm most looking forward to dropping a really heavy song called 'Heal Myself', which is some of the best lyrics I've ever written. There is so much coming.

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Cause they want you to kill yourself, before you heal yourself,

Your heart might melt, but a pill might help,

Can't stop myself unless I spot myself…

This interview has been edited for length and clarity purposes.

Words by Connor Aiden Fogarty @boypolar