We spoke with DNO friend and ambassador, Amahl (AF THE NAYSAYER), about taking on a new biking endeavor upon the release of his latest EP, PARTS, Act 1.
Photo: Michael Tucker
Since we last checked in, you’ve made a transition from BMX to Track Cycling - how did that change come about?
Omari Cato, a close friend of mine, informed me about velodrome racing. He competes in the Pro Class of the flatland BMX discipline and races as a category 3 racer on the track. He thought I would excel in sprinting events from the way I ride BMX in the city. The rest is history. The training for racing is more straight forward than practicing flatland maneuvers in a parking lot all day.
You’ve also mentioned that you feel you’re more ‘made for track cycling’, yea?
I personally believe, genetically, this is a sport I can excel at. I have fairly open hips and above average flexibility overall which allows me to easily get into an aerodynamic position. I also possess large legs which can produce an ample amount of explosive power. I believe if I follow a properly structured training program with a good coach I can accomplish my goals within this sport.
Can you speak to the importance of setting goals for yourself, motivation in sports, and how that aligns with your personal growth?
I can't progress if I don't have a goal I'm trying to achieve, whether it's with music or fitness. I'm more relaxed than I used to be, but I used to have a wall of post-it notes with daily and weekly goals crossed off. Any time I felt unaccomplished I would look at what achievements I had crossed out on the list, and it really helped me to see how much I had actually done. I really need to do this again. Nowadays the list is in my head. I do keep a journal of all my cycling progression to document my progression. In my opinion, training with no goal is pointless.
With the experience of both BMX and track cycling under your belt, what stands out about each?
Flatland BMX is about fitness when you're competing in a contest (performing combinations back to back for 1 to 3 minutes), but overall it's a skill-based sport reliant on muscle memory. Even if I don't ride for a year I still have the foundation of a majority of my tricks based on the hours I put in developing muscle memory. With road and track racing, the majority of success is based on fitness (at least in lower level races). Of course there's also strategy involved, but you have to have great fitness. If you don't ride for two weeks you can get out of shape.
“I can't progress if I don't have a goal I'm trying to achieve, whether it's with music or fitness...In my opinion, training with no goal is pointless.”
On the music side of things, you just released a new EP - PARTS, Act 1. Can you talk about that evolution of your sound, and how more recent DJ gigs could have shaped the making of these songs and the recording process?
First and foremost, I loathe DJing. I only do it for supplemental income. My sound has changed because my taste has changed - also, spiritually I've grown and changed too. That all reflects back to the art; music is nothing more than an extension of one's self. For live performances I believe it's important to have a variety of ranges in tempo. I've learned how to best sequence my show from feedback received during the constant touring I did from 2014-2016.
How have you grown spiritually and how has that manifested in your art?
I'm just more in tune with my body, and a lot of that stems from maturing due to life experiences. I haven't seriously made any music in over a year, so I can't fully answer that question. My music is an extension of my personality, so whether I like it or not, my growth will be reflected in my art by its nature. My art is just an extension of me.
“My sound has changed because my taste has changed - also, spiritually I've grown and changed too. That all reflects back to the art; music is nothing more than an extension of one's self.”
Has there been a particularly significant pivot-point in your personal growth more recently?
My living situation has changed significantly, and I feel much more supported emotionally now. I'd rather not share too many details, but I can say that it's all very positive.
When can we expect PARTS, Act 2?
Hopefully next early Winter.
What does DNO stand for?
Do Not Open
Frame: Bianchi Super Pista - Blue
Fork: Alpina Wing Pista Carbon Track
Wheel-set: Velocity Aileron 28h rims, Shimano Dura-Ace HB-7600 hubs, Sapim CX-Ray Aero spokes, 2x lacing (front and back)
Tires: Continental Gatorskin (for training)
Stem: Thomson Elite X4 Stem, 130mm (+/- 10 degree)
Bar: ALPINA Carbon Sprint, 33mm
Seatpost: Canyon VCLS S13
Crank: Vision NS 386EVO Track, 170mm
Chainring: Sugino ZEN, 51t
Chain: Izumi Jet Black, 1/8
Saddle: PRO Stealth, 152mm
Pedals: Shimano Dura Ace PD-7810