Pulse of the Culture: In Conversation With Dylan Sinclair

Dylan Sinclair’s latest projects offer a look into the Toronto born singer’s world and what he’s learning on his journey through young adulthood.

To be timeless is to be in a beautiful balance between nostalgia and reality. It’s cultural currency that can only be cashed via shared experiences. For emerging singer and songwriter Dylan Sinclair, studying the work of the timeless artists that came before him has served as inspiration while crafting his own alternative R&B sound.

Through his music, the 21-year old Toronto native explores what it means to live a meaningful and authentic life as a 20-something. His music is a testament to growing pains, thoughtfulness, and coming-of-age phenomena collectively felt as you transition into adulthood. A walking embodiment of the power of representation and community, Sinclair is a voice this generation has been waiting for.

Sinclair’s first two full-length offerings, Proverb and No Longer in the Suburbs, find him immortalizing his gospel roots while making progressive strides to push the boundaries of his artistic comfort zone in the world of R&B. And as we watch his music continue to blossom in the face of time and his journey through young adulthood, it is becoming increasingly clear that Sinclair is the Pulse of the Culture. What is your earliest memory of music?

Dylan Sinclair: Music was always around in my household. But it stuck when I started performing, which was about 4 to 5 years old, in the choir at church. I was singing in the choir, and I had my family, who would always sing around the house for worship and things similar to that during the week. I spent a lot of time in choir doing vocal training. But for me, it was just fun. It was a game and a competition I grew to really love. I didn’t realize how vocal training at a young age would help my vocals throughout the years. How have your inspirations shaped the way you create music?

Dylan Sinclair: A lot of my inspirations are very versatile, and they have range. For me, it has always been important to expand beyond my comfort zone. Pharrell, Stevie Wonder, and Solange are big inspirations for me because of their innovation. They don’t have any two songs that sound the same. You can tell through their music that they are genuine people, and their music comes from the soul. But sonically, I always want to push myself. I also listen to a lot of older music because it’s like time travel. It takes me out of my current space. In order to make something fresh and new, you have to go back. What is your creative process or ritual?

Dylan Sinclair: My process was so casual before. I record out of my room a lot. I’m really particular and typically the last to like a song after I’ve made it. I’m involved in my production process because I’m also a musician and a producer. I use my demo process, just to get the idea out, then re-record vocals. Sometimes my re-recorded version does not capture the same essence of the demo, so I’ll use those vocals instead. For example, I used the demo vocals on my track "Suppress." My process changes. But now, of course, I'm in the studio more and have more hands on the production process versus me doing it in my bedroom.

Q: What is the most meaningful compliment you’ve received about your music?

A: The ones where people are in a place, usually teenagers, who are trying to make it in some way. Whether it's a relationship or a home situation — that confides in my music to get through it.

There was also a little girl who came to my third concert in LA and it was her first concert. She was like 5 or 6 years old and she drug her mom to my concert. I remember seeing a silhouette of a small body standing on a seat so she could see. She was dancing. And I waved to her and she freaked out to her mother. We brought her backstage, we took pictures, and I signed some things for her. Her mom hit my manager afterwards and told them she laminated the signature.

Pulse of the Culture

Pulse of the Culture: In Conversation With Alex Isley Do you remember the point where you wanted to take music seriously?

Dylan Sinclair: It was in high school. Heartbreak, writing poetry in a poetry club, and watching Daniel Caesar come out of the same place as me, essentially in Toronto, really pushed me. If I hadn’t seen someone like me from my area make it the way he did, I probably would have stayed in the church. What matters most to you in music, and do you feel you’re living in alignment with that?

Dylan Sinclair: What matters most to me changes and will continue to change over the years. But I feel like music is meant to be honest. Sonically, I like music that feels in between genres. As much as I’m classified as R&B. I like to pull from other genres and not give a generic or  basic experience to my listeners. All you need is your ambition and your vision, and then it compounds. Is the music that you put out reflective of your current experiences or is it generic feelings?

Dylan Sinclair: Up until this point, all my music has been about things I was going through at the time. I just hate to have to go through all this just to write the music. So for now, I’m looking to live my life in peace, grow as a person, and expand on those experiences rather than my pain. My music is usually about my pain. And I’ll write about my inner battle with that. So for now, I’m looking forward to having a different take on my new music. What is your first memory of BET?

Dylan Sinclair: Gospel Hour with Pastor Bobby Jones. For a long time, my whole life was gospel music. In my mind, as a kid, the church and the world were two separate things. It’s cool how BET captured the depth of gospel but also of everything from music to film — because we are in everything. 

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.