by Mona Guidryz

I'm so pleased to introduce you to one of Atlantic Records' newest recording
artists, Duncan Sheik, for whom there is no easy comparison. He possesses a
style rich in intelligence, romance and intimacy, most of which Duncan, now
26 years old, acquired at a relatively young age, during years spent as an
only child with his grandparents. His grandmother, once a student at
Juilliard, got Duncan interested in playing music. She showed an early
interest in the piano but decided that the guitar was his calling. The first
one he owned, at five, was a Gibson SG. Inspired by a "metal head" cousin who
played guitar, Duncan started out a Kiss fan. The first record he remembers
buying, at five, was Kiss Alive.

At 12 he was part of his first band, a novelty kid in a band of high school
guys. They played primarily Van Halen and Def Leppard covers. "It was
horrible," Duncan reminiscences. He spent the rest of his teen years obsessed
with the British Invasion of the 80's. Artists such as The Blue Nile, David
Sylvian, the Cocteau Twins and TalkTalk had a profound effect on Duncan's
music today. He describes these influences as "weird, esoteric British art,
music people." Duncan attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island,
where he studied Semiotics, the study of contemporary philosophy of cultural
media. While attending Brown, Duncan recorded some demo tapes and took them
to California. He had no real intention of staying out there but he submitted
his demos and got a record deal. This turned out to be an "inappropriate
place to be."

After two years of writing many songs and being in business limbo, Atalantic
Records bought Duncan off the other label. Duncan Sheik is a result of this
union. It was recorded outside Paris in Precy-Sur-Oise in a 150 year old
French chateau owned by the album's producer Rupert Hine, who has worked with
The Fixx, The Waterboys, Tina Turner, Howard Jones (who played on Duncan's
"Reasons For Living"), and dozens of others. Never having worked with a
producer before, Duncan was apprehensive about being controlled, but found
Rupert easy to work with. Rupert had been looking for a young, musically
adventerous male singer/songwriter and Duncan fir the bill.

Duncan didn't really start singing until his first year of college due to
some insecuritiesabout his voice. He took three years of hard voice lessons
from an opera singer and this cured him of his fears. In college he was lead
guitarist in a band with Lisa Loab for about a year before going off on his
own. His ability to express himself in front of people has grown enormously
since the record has come out. Duncan finds it necessary to paint a picture
with his sound rather than with words. "It starts with the music and the
words are something that comes afterwards. They are grafted on this musical
landscape that you've created. Words are almost afterthoughts. The voice is
really imporatnat because as a sound it's an instrument. It's important in
that respect, but to me what it's saying...the words are coming slightly more
stream of consciousness. So whatever they say is what they say, whether
they're valid or not valid, depends on whoever is listening to it. It's not
for me to say whether it's relevant or not. If you listen to it and it moves
you in some way then it's done its job."

What a job he has done. Duncan Sheik, the album and artist, are very
charming. He recently finished a tour with Jewel, is currently on the tour
with Jars of Clay, and will soon be on the road with Frente. Some plans for
the future are to tour and promote the album in Europe, a place Duncan knows
well for he visited frequently when he was younger. Should the opportunity
arise for you to hear or see this artist, seize it. Talents like his are few
and far between.