"One of the most impressive debuts of the year" - Pigeons & Planes

…he threads poetic narratives through a carousel of lush cinematic production steeped in indie panache, R&B soul, hip-hop energy, and pop expanse.

Born in Ivory Coast, raised in Boston, and based in New York City, snny possesses a panoramic perspective on culture and art. Within his debut Learning To Swim EP [Glassnote Records], he threads poetic narratives through a carousel of lush cinematic production steeped in indie panache, R&B soul, hip-hop energy, and pop expanse. Emerging in 2017, Pigeons & Planes quickly pegged snny as an “artist to watch”. Like the musical equivalent of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, he channels a nostalgic spirit evocative of the eighties and nineties with a wide-eyed honesty.

“The EP summarizes my experiences throughout the years and the ups and downs,” he explains. “It talks about relationships that didn’t end up being the best, self-doubt, and these things you come across as a young black male growing up in America. It ends with falling in love, the process of finding yourself, and figuratively learning to swim. I actually don’t know how to swim, so that was an ongoing joke,” he laughs. “Every song is a moment in time for me.”

Relocating from West Africa to the suburbs of Boston at three-years-old, he recalls becoming obsessed with records as a child. At home, Mom played everything from Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix to Alpha Bondy, The Bee Gees, and Michael Jackson. snny actually gained a deep appreciation for writing, while teaching his mother English. “She was trying to get her citizenship and didn’t speak much English,” he says. “I would use my homework to help her learn the language. At the same time, she taught me how to read and write in French. It was like living in two completely different realms. Through these processes, I fell in love with reading and writing. I developed such an eclectic palette. That piqued my interest in short stories and penning poetry. It blossomed from there. I always wanted to do something where I could write. Music was the best way for me to express that writing exactly the way I wanted to.”

While attending New England School of Art, snny began making music with friends. Post-graduation, he headed West and spent two years in Los Angeles. “It was a bit of trial-and-error,” he says. “Now, the music reflects everything that inspires me from indie rock to rap. I finally know how to articulate my voice.”

In 2016, he moved to New York with a clear vision for his next evolution.

In January 2017, he quietly uploaded his debut single “Young Boy” to Soundcloud. It stirred up an initial buzz as Glassnote Records signed him. The track introduces Learning To Swim. A graceful amalgam of shimmering synths, upbeat percussion, and lithe guitar, “Young Boy” slides into a breathy celebration of youth—“When I was a young boy, blood, sweat, and tears were in these streets…and I was the king of being me.”

“I got the idea from watching Almost Famous,” he goes on. “I’ve learned so many things throughout my life. It’s almost like I look for nostalgia. What my mom taught me guides me to this day. I was submerged in both the African and American worlds. I’ve got Muslim family members and Christian family members. It’s a really powerful balance.”

Executive produced by Albert Ryan and co-produced by snny, the EP encompasses a myriad of emotions and styles. Whether it’s the Red Rock aura of “Arizona” or the handclap shuffle of “Wild,” Learning To Swim uncovers the scope of his widescreen sonic oeuvre. Like a still of your favorite childhood TV show, the title itself evokes a flurry of memories. “The name references one experience in particular,” he reveals. “In fifth grade, this girl I liked invited me to a pool party. I almost drowned. When I woke up outside of the pool, it felt like I had died for thirty seconds. I’ll never forget that day. I always wanted to do a project that was a reflection of this moment on a bigger scale. Everyone is learning to swim or trying to figure it out—I still am. It was the perfect connection to me.”

As much as Learning To Swim brings things full circle for snny, it also hints at a very bright future.

“I want to create a world for people to dive into and explore themselves,” he leaves off. “Being from Ivory Coast opened my ears to a completely different way of listening to music with all of the sounds, percussion, cadencies, and melodies. It’s all over the place. I think that’s why so many genres inspire me. Ivory Coast doesn’t have a lot of musicians doing anything close to what I am. I’d love to put the country on the map.”

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Based In: New York
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