A musical map — Sinkane has soaked up influences from everywhere he's called home, from Sudan to London to the States. See his inspirations mapped out in our globetrotting playlist.

Moving around a lot as a kid sucks. It’s easy to lose sight of who you are in a bid to constantly reinvent yourself against ever-changing backdrops.

In Huck 48 – The Origins Issue, Ahmed Gallab of Sinkane reveals his own nomadic roots. If you’ve listened to his music (and why wouldn’t you have by now?!) you’ll hear the influences of his multicultural start. It’s a homage to all the places and cities that make up his identity; there’s a bit of Afrobeat, some funk, a dose of punk and a helluva lot of soul in there taken from all over the world. But where, exactly, did Gallab pick up the threads of this colourful sound? All over the place, really.

Here’s a musical map to help better signpost Sinkane’s movements across the globe.


Our first hit comes from the city in which these words are typed. As a little kid Ahmed lived in London, where his father, Abudallahi Gallab, was working for the Sudanese embassy. He probably has very little recollection of the big smoke, given that the Gallab family moved on before he turned five. But in later life he played in a number of hardcore punk bands, so here’s something from The Clash in homage to that.


After London, his family relocated to the Sudan for his father’s work. Gallab’s parents were born in Sudan but left because of the second civil war that raged throughout the east African country between 1983 and 2005. The war was so fierce that it required the family to relocate to the States. Unbeknownst to the Gallabs, Emmanuel Jal had no way out. Speaking at TED’s Global Conference in 2009, Jal revealed that he spent his childhood seeing his village burned down, his mother killed in the war and fighting as a child soldier for five years. Heavy stuff, right?


Gallab’s father enrolled in a fellowship programme in Boston at the end of the 80s at Boston University: this would prove to be the first stop of many across the States. Boston University produced some huge names in American history; Martin Luther King Jr. earned a PhD in 1955, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone when he worked there and George Costanza, who plays the role of Jason Alexander in real life, studied there before dropping out. Joan Baez, while only studying at the university for six weeks, developed her musical style around the city after her father took up a position at MIT. There are parallels to be drawn between Baez and Gallab but if he goes on to emulate even half of what Baez has achieved he shouldn’t be too disappointed, I suppose. I mean, she’s done ok. So-so at a push.

Provo, Utah

It was in Utah that Gallab started discovering his hardcore sensibilities. Provo’s musical background is a bit of a mixed bag. The Osmonds and the guy that sang “Scarface (Push It To The Limit)” both come from there and, while PITTL is the guiltiest of pleasures, it never really pushed the boat out into Lake Utah. Bert McCracken, singer of The Used, was born in Provo and raised in nearby Orem which is only a 10 minute drive away if the traffic’s looking good. The Used’s post-hardcore sound may have laid the ground for emo but “Take It Away” is real punch in the face of a track.

Kent, Ohio

It was after the family’s move to Kent which Gallab describes as an “open-minded college town” that his passion for music really started to develop. Kent allowed his identity to forge in an environment where myriad subcultures co-existed. “It wasn’t like, ‘The black kids hang out here and the weird crusty punk kids hang out over here,’” he says. Kent could hold a claim to being Gallab’s real hometown – the place where he developed an understanding of just how vast the musical soundscape really is. Today, it’s a quiet town with a population of little over 30,000 but on May 4, 1970, it was the scene of one of America’s darker moments. The Kent State Shootings left four students dead and nine injured after the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Nixon administration’s Cambodia Campaign in an afternoon that completely altered the Vietnam War.

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