Words: Thomas Hobbs
Photography: Kaj Jefferies
Styling: Ade Udoma

“Right now, everyone is trying to make a Travis Scott song. There are lots of writers and the music is designed to get people moving as a unit, crowd-surfing and shit,” says 25-year-old west London singer Miink. “I am not one for that. I want people to go to my show and for it to smell nice. I want everyone to be calm and almost in a meditative state.”

This commitment to creating songs built around soothing introspection runs deep through Miink’s 2018 debut LP, Small Clan. Its opener Who Are You is a sexy, psychedelic playground, with dub-bass bubbling under the surface. An angelic-voiced Miink, who sings like he’s in a trance-like state, repeatedly asks: "Who are you and who you with?"

Miink’s sonically rich, genre-splicing R&B is created in solitude from his bedroom in Richmond. “Everything you hear is produced by me,” he says, confidently sitting up in a wooden chair, sporting an oversized Stone Island parka as rain pours down on a gloomy January afternoon.

Cap: Our Legacy
Jacket: Jean Paul Gaultier
Top: Silhou Archive
Trousers: Ralph Lauren
Trainers: Asics

There's a sense that Miink doesn’t think in genre, but in textures. Take the reflective Totals, a tender pop song that takes an unexpected turn with chaotic synths you’d expect to hear at a rave at 3am. Or Sheep Shackle, a song that channels Björk’s penchant for haunting howls, ascending into grandiose strings. Just when you think you’ve got a Miink song figured out, it takes an exhilarating change of direction, flipping your expectations upside down. “There’s no longer any rules to genre,” he explains. “Hybrid culture is the only way forward. There’s not a lot left to discover, so it’s about who can mix different sounds in the best way."

Miink's music holds a certain intimacy, like it’s designed to tap into the innermost private corners of your mind. “For me, making music is a very lonely process,” Miink admits. “I am always alone when I write. It’s all directly from my head so there’s maybe a dream-like quality to it, too. I want to channel the spirit of slaves, so sometimes my lyrics are about tapping into the spirits of my bloodline. I don’t ever want dozens of songwriters on a track or my music would lose its rawness.”

Jumper: Napa by Martine Rose
Belt: Silhou Archive
Jeans: Our Legacy
Boots: Our Legacy

Jacket: Studio Nicholson
Shirt: Xander Zhou
Tie: Kenzo
Trousers: Studio Nicholson
Trainers: Our Legacy

This individualistic approach to making music is something Miink applies to his visuals, too. Rather impressively, the colourful, hallucinatory video for track Yellow Dust was filmed on a set Miink created in his own flat. “The visuals came to me as I was writing the song. I don’t see any divisions between music and visuals. Look, I see a lot of artists getting so much support, but I like to be left to my own devices!”

Yet nothing is what it seems with Miink’s music. Yellow Dust manages to sound sensual despite vicious lyrical imagery of slitting throats. But even though his music is unconventional and hard to define, Miink, who was brought up in a "big, musical Jamaican family" in west London, still feels he unfairly gets placed into a box. “People don’t put me on the intellectual music tip because of the colour of my skin, yet James Blake was put there immediately because he went to Goldsmiths.”

Smirking mischievously, Miink tells me he plans to release three new albums in 2019. He says each project will sound entirely unique, revealing that the first release will be even more experimental than Small Clan: “I am going to be using these distressing sounds, which I’ll be looping over and over so I can almost hypnotise the listener.”

Above all else, Miink wants to continue to live up to his namesake. Fittingly, he’s inspired by a creature whose looks deceive its prey. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a video of a mink in the wild. It looks cuddly but it’s absolutely brutal too and will kill a bird in a flash; its looks are deceiving. It’s the same thing with me.”

Small Clan is out now via Miink

Coat: Stone Island
Top: Our Legacy
Trousers: Carlota Barrera
Belt: Silhou Archive
Boots: Dr Martens

Hat: Vintage
Top: Carlota Barrera
Belt: Silhou Archive
Jeans: Levi’s LVC
Boots: Our Legacy

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