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NewTracks New Artist: Doma Cyno

NewTracks New Artist: Doma Cyno

Although named after a small, quiet town in Poland, Doma Cyno is anything but. Rather he’s an enthusiastic and worldly young Wellingtonian spinning slick and smooth vocals over a simple chord progression that come together to form the alluring RnB track, Time and Place, which is Doma Cyno’s debut single. NZ On Air Music included it on their April NewTracks compilation.

What’s your given name, where are you from, and what instruments do you play?

My real name is Dexter Go, but I produce music under the moniker Doma Cyno (pronounced chee-no). I was born in Wellington, though my family immigrated here from the Philippines in 2001. I grew up learning cues from my brother on playing guitar and piano, though we both have drastically different music tastes. Mainly now, I would love to get my hand in production. Watching my friends make magic on their laptops is insane to me.

Was any high school or other music training important to you?

I used to hate piano classes so much. I respect it now, most definitely, but I wasn’t keen at the age of five on learning Mozart from an old lady I was mildly intimidated by.

But I think the age of the internet makes it so easy to find what you can be really into. I gravitated towards RnB, both modern and what I saw growing up, watched YouTube tutorials on how to replicate and get inspired from those progressions, and have never looked back since. 

Any other previous projects we might know you from?

In 2020 I released my first project, ‘Interpolations’, a four-song EP I recorded in my producer mate Jack Hegarty‘s school studio. It’s been a while since then, and we’ve learned so much in terms of production, finding our own style, etc. That rollout was really humbling because even though it was small and intimate, all my friends were really stoked to see me get out and make some tunes finally. 

What’s the background story of how Doma Cyno came to be? 

I had always been making music, and learning how to track vocals/record at the start of 2020 was a really big time for me. Learning how to put effects and add harmonies and everything. I definitely had no idea what I was doing.

Mid-2020 I had met Jack Hegarty at a joint-school choir session, and he wanted to chop up some music on FL Studio – my mind was blown! I was able to ask for something and he just put it down. All my ideas started to make a little bit more sense. We decided to release my music a couple of months later, the name Doma Cyno just being something I decided on literally last minute. He texted me and asked what I wanted to be on streaming services. I really like the name now, though.

Nowadays, I take and learn from as many influences as I can. Producers, other singers who humble me that I’ve met on the way, etc. As Doma Cyno I’m just getting started.

How did you come up with the name for your new project?

The name Doma Cyno is derived from a small town in Poland that my family has visited and frequented for the past 20 or so years, called Domacyno. I had the chance to visit it for the first time in 2019. It’s really serene and really quiet, but the name has always stuck out to me.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I’d say I’m a lot less reluctant to share my ideas now. Learning the terms for things I like, whether it be a chord progression that catches my ear, or production terms that I can communicate what I want more effectively to my friends makes it a whole lot easier and more rewarding. I would love to get into more production-heavy RnB, more contemporary sorts. That’s definitely the sort of phase I’m going through right now.

I would say now I am definitely way more of a perfectionist than I was before. It’s pretty evident if I sometimes cringe at old demos or old songs, but it’s always a sign of growth, and it is something to cherish as opposed to getting embarrassed by. 

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Reaching out to Paula Yeoman of NicNak Media late last year and her immediately seeing the potential in my demos is something that really encouraged me. I think that now, I’m sort of in for the ride as the next few singles roll out, with support from all these people that I’m grateful and humbled to work with. It only goes up from here, which I’m really excited about.

What makes Time and Place stand out for you as a single?

I think just knowing that this track was made completely organically, with the help of my friends. I also think it came really easy to me, structure, melody, lyric-wise. I didn’t have any second doubts about the track at all.

What is the story behind Time and Place?

Lyrically I just wanted to touch upon the concept of miscommunication. One party wants to distance themselves, and the other one isn’t so keen on that. When people are so caught up in going through the motions that they aren’t actually convinced that you care. So this song is a direct response to that.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I really love the chorus to Time and Place. I loved showing it to my friends. The call and response of “We, Need” is something they’re always stoked on, which I love. My eldest brother won’t shut up with the chorus, bastardising the lyrics to get a rise out of me, so I guess that’s a good sign!

Who did you write/record/produce the single with?

In my emails, there was a synth chord progression over a drum loop sent to me by Malakhai Sadler, a mutual friend of a friend I had met on another project. He wasn’t sure in what direction to take it, but I loved it and drafted up the first melody pretty quickly on a Blue Snowball. Which is basically the most budget mic ever to use for music, but the entire song was mixed and mastered on that hundred-dollar mic! In my living room as well, in a foam box. I’ve upgraded now, don’t worry.

Jack Hegarty did production on the drums, adding a bit of structure on FL Studio, basically separating the chorus from the verses.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

I want them to feel the themes are applicable to them, as well as feel the song bangs enough to play it on repeat and show their friends. I want the growth on this track to feel as organic as I felt making it.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I would only ever want to make music that I would instantly bump myself. If I’m listening blindly and I feel it’s something that I wouldn’t add to my playlists, then I’ll get discouraged. I’m learning not to force things as they come. My mate Yohan is definitely helping with that.

Who else is in your team?

Jack Hegarty is my OG producer. Since the schoolboy days, we’ve always been cooking up something, so you can bet that even if he isn’t involved with a project directly, I’ll always seek his approval. Shoutout to producers Malakhai Sadler and Yohan De Silva. Malakhai is your man for the basslines, and Yohan is the man for melodic inspiration and lyrics/themes. Also Jpec, Justin Cederholm, the first dude I ever got a proper mix from, blows my mind.

Under NicNak, I get a lot of support from Paula Yeoman, and Nicole Thomas, who are a real help in getting started in the NZ music industry, pitching for interviews with the radio stations, which was really cool, etc. Really grateful for them for sure. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

Yes. Most definitely, yes. I’ve got some singles in the vaults that I’m really pleased with that I think listeners would really resonate with. Dare I say even a little bit better than this current single… 

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song?

  • Butane: Renowned
  • Whoismayo: Spiritual Blicky
  • Fiveofive: Forever

Have any previous NZOA applications not been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others ?

I’m submitting my next single for NZOA funding. Fingers crossed! Honestly, I thought I was so far gone from being able to make funding with a small audience, but my audience right now is still super intimate, and I am a lot more hopeful now than I was before. Just reach out and make connections. That’s the most important thing ever. Of course, there are instances where people can kill it independently on their own, but if you reach out and find people you can really connect with, your music will benefit tenfold.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

It wasn’t so much the criteria but instead thinking of what I would actually do with the funding. I would be super stressed out having 10 grand for funding and not knowing what the hell to do with it or where to budget and pitch. I wouldn’t want it to be a waste. 

But now, with clear plans and learning how the NZ industry sort of works, I’m a lot more willing and able to pitch with more confidence. We’ll see how it goes.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I have a love-hate relationship with theneedledrop. People take his reviews as gospel which I find really silly to do if you can’t form your own opinions, but I really do respect his takes, even if I don’t agree with them. But the dude gave Silk Sonic a 7. Who does that?

Any last words?

I’m still trying to find my footing. Just keep at it, I promise. Some wins will come your way if it’s meant to be.

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