The Hone Collective | DORNIK
Hone Collective is an independent magazine based out of San Francisco, CA. We serve to collaborate and create a space for doers, thinkers and creatives to share their narratives in the lifelong process of becoming and honing their craft. Our aim is to document the journey and the effort made in actualizing one’s dreams.
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by. Aileen Pagdanganan

It’s close to 7:30am in San Francisco and I’m pouring hot water into my cup filled with a spoonful of Folgers instant coffee. I quickly open a pack of sugar, manipulating the taste that’s in my mug and allowing the color to fade from a dark brown to a light tan. “Instant coffee” seems to be my guilty vice these mornings—it’s quick, effortless to make, and equips me with the necessary “wake up call” I need in order to jump start my mornings; mornings like this when I need to feel alive enough to make a long distance phone call.


Just moments from my first sip, I dial a combination of numbers to reach the UK. After a couple of rings, a gentle British accent answers the phone, “Hello there! This is Dornik!” and I smile as if he’s sitting in front of me. I flip through my notes as I grip my phone, greet him, and awkwardly confess, “This is my first international call of the year, but—” and before I could save myself from that first corny line, he says with a laugh, “Well what an honor!”


And immediately, I melt. It’s close to 5:30pm in London and here I am waking up to his charm approximately 5,351 miles away.


Our conversation extends from that awkward greeting and steadies into a pace that is organic and comfortable. We start off talking about organizing and spring-cleaning his studio space to talking about London and where the good places to visit would be. It’s clear at this point I’m chatting with a South London native, who is more than proud of where he comes from taking precedence from the art and music that breathes life through his city—parallel to his own music.


Formally known as Jessie Ware’s drummer, Dornik is a singer-songwriter and producer who debuted his first self-titled album this past August paving the way for his own musical presence and identity. Released via PMR Records—the same record label as Disclosure, Jai Paul, and Jessie Ware—a label reaffirming to Dornik that he and his project are in good company. He reassures me that PMR is more than a record label to him; they’re a supportive family.


All of this deems evident with the help of his good friend, “big sis,” and label mate, Jessie Ware. The amount of support and encouragement she’s given him illustrates the faith she has in his talent. Since she discovered his demos, Dornik’s been able to share his soul on a larger platform—formally sounds he’s kept stored in his hard drive since 2010-2011. “I sent [Jessie] a song and one day she asked me if I could send her something else. ‘Send me some stuff over, I’d love to hear it.’ Sent her some old demos and she said it was crazy. Then next thing you know I got an email from her label and management. Jessie pretty much sent my songs to the label and said, ‘we loved it and wanted to know if you want to make an album.’”


And since then Dornik has been keeping pace at the frontlines keeping his drumming skills in his back pocket for the time being to focus on being a performer. “It’s been fun! It’s nice to be able to kind of express yourself—show what you can do. It’s like, ‘Whoa, this is crazy. It’s been happening so fast.”

Born into a family of musicians, it’s no surprise Dornik’s musical tastes and talents are heavily influenced by a wide range of sounds curated by his upbringing. “There’s definitely a lot of genres I grew up listening to. My dad loves classical music and I’m a big fan of Sting.” Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Gregory Isaac, and Dennis Brown, he says, are his go-to mentions. But include doses of Reggae, African and Classical music, and you get a deeper and diverse feel of where Dornik’s musical lens stems from. “I’ve got a musical family. My dad is a DJ and he sings in the choir. My mom’s a big music lover and I’ve got cousins who are musical as well. It was always around – I couldn’t escape it.”


From the past to his present, these are the very influences that can be heard across the board as you listen closely to his album. Fine tuned with a textured voice reminiscent of Michael Jackson and lyrics sensitive to that of Frank Ocean; his album is produced carefully to feed listeners this futuristic warmth and retro feel that remains–all at the same time–relevant.  Dornik keeps this album consistent with his motives in each song; most with a 90s R&B vibe and a pedigree of this generation’s “the feels.” Listen to “Drive,” “Stand In Your Line,” and “Something About You,” and you can hear a voice alluding to a love worth seeking, but hiding behind a wall that is translucent and timid all on its own.


While his mood play in these songs channels shaking shoulders and two-stepping motions, he bares his own production that echo a poised and confident vibe among a well-seasoned groove.


“I’ve always been producing since the age of 13. I’d write songs in private and I’d give them to other people to sing–like friends of mine would sing, but it would not be quite how I’d want it to be, ya know?  Or how I’d have it in my head. And so I started to do it myself but I still never had the guts to show anyone.”
Though Dornik’s personality is rooted in a nature that is humble and shy, you begin to realize his growth as a musician the further along you listen to his album. No signs indicate he was ever cautious, but instead, you hear inflections in his voice that progress into a force beaming with both authenticity and emotion.

I just want to make better music and just make more music. And constantly be creating,” he says. “And let’s hope people like it and like what I’m doing. I’d like to invite other people as well.

With this first full-length album, Dornik is inviting listeners to hear a project that is undoubtedly and explicitly his very own. After keeping his music so close to himself, he’s finally allowed himself to be vulnerable and let go. The music he’s sharing with us is allowing him to become “Dornik” and not just “Jessie Ware’s Drummer.” With this realization, his charm has not gone away. And with the same charm that began our phone call this morning, this album is his way of finally saying, “Hello there! This is Dornik!” to the world, in the same fashion that made me melt. Except now with the music that once sat in his hard drive can now lend itself to not only spend mornings with me, but the whole day.