London-based singer and producer Dornik never went after the spotlight, but the spotlight found him anyway. The quiet spoken Croydon native was content for years to stay behind the drumkit, drumming for popstars on tour and keeping his own bedroom-recorded, sun-streaked electronic love songs a secret. “It was just a private hobby,” he says now. “I never saw myself as a frontman.” It was while on tour with Jessie Ware that she heard his demos, and immediately knew he’d be right at home alongside her on PMR, the home of forward-thinking, leftfield pop. If it wasn’t for her, the world might never have stumbled across this hidden gem.
Dornik made his first appearance on the musical landscape back in 2013, with the bubbling electronic soul of ‘Something About You’. Over the course of the next two years, he followed this with ‘Rebound’, ‘On My Mind’ and ‘Second Thoughts’: groove-led jams that focus around his percussionist obsession with creating addictive rhythms. It was while writing these particular songs that Dornik also found his groove with storytelling, describing his process as being like “scripting a short film.” Impressionistic yet passionate, the result is something like a film full of palm tree-fringed montages; dream sequences bleed into love scenes, with lyricism that weaves everyday observation into far-off fantasy.
The album that follows is like the 1980s sent in a time capsule to the 2050s; on ‘Blush’, Dornik’s vocal drifts dreamily forward as if out of a rose-tinted haze, and by the end of ‘Strong’, he’s confidently strutting over a quick-stepping 80s pop beat. Its timeless song-writing and yet futuristic flourishes make it impossible to pin down, but ‘Dornik’ is unquestionably right for one time in particular: “it’s a summer album, for in the car on the sunny day” says Dornik.
The world had to wait a little while for Dornik to emerge into the spotlight, and that’s cool by him. His music is made to be absorbed, to get right under the skin: the more time you spend with it, the more you just might discover.