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.”