Dornik knows how to stretch. The self-taught musician takes his cues from ample inspiration, we see the ’80s pop past brood to a funk-infused future with melodies as if heard through a mirage of electronics. The London-based singer, producer, and drummer never went for the spotlight, but the spotlight found him. After Jessie Ware heard his demo following a rehearsal session, she quickly made use of the bedroom producer’s sun-streaked secret. Dornik honed his craft and places particular importance on sculpting his sound. We’ve all heard soul and R&B, but his fusion of the two weaves elements of ’80s funk and oddball jazz making this a listening odyssey into a nostalgic nether realm.
To follow up the success of his breakthrough debut single ‘Drive’ and its acclaimed Badbadnotgood remix, Dornik’s self-titled album is out now.
Words: Chris Thompson
Hey Dornik, how’s things?
Not too bad, just about to start rehearsals here.
Nice one. So I got a chance to Listen to your album, would I be wrong in saying that you may have been influenced heavily by the 80s pop scene on this one?
Oh yeah definitely, I’m a big ’80s lover, and that sound just subconsciously comes out in my music, I was really into Michael Jackson growing up as well as Prince.
The internet has categorised you with the likes of these pop heavyweights, even termed you as the future Weeknd. Does this pressure help or hinder your creative process?
Well, that is a huge compliment. I mean these guys are artists that I listen to, and I have so much respect for them. It is quite scary, but also really inspiring. Just makes me want to work harder and prove that I am capable of standing in that category. So yeah, I feel like the added pressure helps.
The Dornik album is extremely polished, who worked with you in creating this masterpiece?
‘Stand In Your Line,’ ‘Chain smoke’ and ‘Drive’ were produced and co-written by Pop Wansel and Toro Whitfield, they’re from Philadelphia and are amazing producers and songwriters. Russ Elevado did the mix on my record which was amazing to have him. He’s the best. The other seven tracks I produced and wrote myself.
How did you end up drumming for Jessie Ware?
One of my friends was in her band, and he put in contact with Jessie as she was looking for a drummer. So I learnt the songs and came down to rehearsals to give it a shot. I played them out, and she was really happy, it all just stemmed from there.
Getting signed to PMR Records?
Yeah, we got the tube back home, one time after rehearsals and Jessie was asking me if I did anything else apart from just play drums. I was like “yeah, I produce a little bit” and she was like “send me some stuff, I’d love to hear it.” So I sent her some of my demos that were just sitting on my hard drive. She heard them and said “This is wicked, who’s singing!?” When I told her it was me, she couldn’t believe it. Next thing I just started getting emails from her manager saying they wanted to sign me and wanted me to put a record out. Pretty crazy.
What was your career path before you became Dornik?
I was just playing gigs as a session musician, was pretty much my career path to here. Music has always been something that’s had a hold on me. I’d write demos and stuff in my spare time, all the while thinking “what would it be like if people ever heard it?” I was just always aiming at becoming a full-time session player.
Your most valuable tool when creating a track?
Being a drummer probably plays the biggest part. I’ve been playing drums since I was 11, and my family is quite musical also. My older cousin played the drums, and he inspired me to want to get good. I love a wide range of music, from soul to jazz, hip-hop, rock, and classical. There are a lot of influences in my music, and I feel like I’m yet to show all of them with what I’ve created so far. I’m looking forward to sharing what I have with you all very soon.
You write, sing, you produce, and you play the drums. What do you do when you’re not making music?
When I’m not making music, I just chill out, chill out with my GF, watch the football (I go for Manchester United). I need to get more into sports, like AFL for example, I’ve only seen it a couple of times, but it looks really cool. I’d love to get over to Australia at some point and watch a few games.
Your music has been tagged officially as a “psychedelic soul and modernist R&B.” How would you describe your genre of music?
Electronic soul, experimental, trippy… hahaha.
And lastly, is there a possible Dornik / Jessie Ware collab on the table?
Oh, I would love to! This is something we’ve spoken about many times, it’s just a struggle to try and find the time to do it. But, yeah there will be one at some point! It’s funny we actually spoke about this a week ago, and I’m really looking forward to it!