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Duncan Sheik Biography

Last updated: 11/25/2010 11:00:00 AM

Not very often, a musician comes along who creates music alive with quiet intensity, passion and sensitivity. Duncan Sheik's style seems very much in vein with Vega, David Sylvian and other luminaries. Wish I'd heard him years ago...

In June 1996 Duncan Sheik released his debut album to critical acclaim, garnering him a place on 'The Saint' soundtrack with In The Absence of Sun - an intimate yet melancholy tune strangely nestled among 10 other techno tracks. The song suits the film - The Saint is a man who has long given up searching for his missing half, and upon finding her, realises his life is magically and irrevocably changed.

The sadness behind the songs

Many of Sheik's lyrics refer to love gone wrong, the unattainable or unavailable, or sometimes just the awe-inducing mystery of the beauty of the universe. One radio interviewer on 18 November 1997 (on Duncan's birthday, incidentally) intuitively pointed out that many of Sheik's lyrics refer to time and seasons - particularly winter, which is traditionally a time which brings out the depth in people's souls. It's not a happy or gay season, with the exception of Christmas (which, as Sheik pointed out in that same interview, can be a double-edged holiday).

Born in November 1969, the Sheik of Sensitive Soulmusings is a New Jersey-born native raised mostly in South Carolina, by his single working mom and musical grandmother. His dad still resides in NJ. These days he resides in a spacious NY apartment, a testament to years of expending elbow grease to attain success in the most difficult music market in the world.

To date, his musical history has been interesting and varied: formerly a guitarist for Lisa Loeb while at Brown University, he floundered under contract with an LA company for a couple years, until Atlantic finally took notice of this bright young spark and bought his contract out. So far he's produced an album that has received significant attention everywhere (although here in Australia he has still received almost no airplay, despite the efforts of persistent journalists. He does feature in muzak, however).

Duncan claims he doesn't write fiction, which says a lot. He also says he doesn't write for the masses; some people's mothers are more likely to buy his album, than young Metallica fans (fair enough). To each their own; but his first eponymous album showed great promise; an indication of a writer who can strike the balance between ballads and rock, without selling out on emotional intensity and intellgence when it comes to the lyrics. The second CD, Humming only proved to critics that Sheik isn't just a one-hit wonder, but a musician who knows more than a few chords, and can claim more than the moniker 'studio cat' beside his name.

A Vice is Nice

He smokes 'only a couple a day', an assertion we'll believe him even if millions won't, hahaha. During the production of his debut album in France, the terribly chic Mr Sheik discovered a latent love of French red wine. (He later discovered sangria too). He's a dog person and adheres to the Buddhist philosophy, but he's no bible-basher about it.

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