The first thing you need to know about Mr Sanka is that he’s not French. He’s also not a ‘he’. Mr Sanka is a ‘they’. Mr Sanka is three people combined as one; a trifecta of clever-clever pop enthusiasts who come together in a frenzy of bouncing electronics and Gallic sensibilities. When you listen to their first double A-side ‘Midnight Air‘ and ‘Flight Mode’ (the latter is the zestiest-sounding track to ever be written about a flight to London), you might recall the kitsch bombast of M83, the melodic guitars of Phoenix or even the bass-driven prowess of Daft Punk. And it’s not that Mr Sanka can’t take a compliment but the project is on a path of discovery of its own making. And, again, nobody here is French.
Pulling from three diverse life journeys, Mr Sanka flourishes with a cosmopolitan diversity that belies any nationality. Singer and visual artist Nick van Hofwegen, together with London-based producers Mustafa and James (who’ve previously worked with the likes of Sam Smith and Emily Sandé), found each other by chance. Or, more specifically, via Justin Bieber. “While writing for his latest album!” says van Hoffwegen, who recalls the serendipitous accidental match-making that kickstarted this whole adventure while the three were in Mr Sanka’s birthplace of Los Angeles. They immediately hit it off, drawing on their mutual love of classic-era 60s and 70s pop, which may explain why there’s a definite Supertramp-meets-Paul Simon via Empire Of The Sun vibe about the one-two punch of this first PMR release.
Dutch god Nick van Hofwegen is the long-haired leader of the pack. You may recall him as frontman of music-meets-art project Young & Sick (Harvest/Capitol). Young & Sick has already earned Nick fans in Skrillex, Maroon 5 and Foster The People (whom he’s designed artwork for), former touring buddy Chance The Rapper, and even crisp company Pringles, who asked him to re-invent the look of their cans. Nick’s an artist in the truest sense – his music is so vibrant and visual because it’s the brainchild of a trained graphic designer, who fled a small village in The Netherlands to explore Berlin, before spending a few formative years in London, Brooklyn and winding up in LA at one point with just $100 in his pocket. “Art and music are both a very important part of my identity,” he says. There’s no sacrifice too large for Nick when it comes to realising his potential as a creative; from dodging rent-chasing landlords to making and selling jewellery just to get by, Nick’s drive to pursue a multi-sensory vision is tireless. In Mr Sanka, a project named after a character in Cool Runnings, he’s gearing up to win the race.