Sainvil is an anomaly in the music industry, carving his own lane in R&B. With impressive vocal range and lyrical prowess, the Miami-bred, Los Angeles-based recording artist has always carried a strong mindset that whatever he wished to do, he could do it. With no dream too big or abstract, real name Matthew Sainvil now serves as Alamo Records’ first R&B signing.
Fusing pop synths with trap drums, Sainvil’s love for music stems from his Haitian roots growing up in Little Haiti, Miami. The city’s diverse cultural backgrounds yield his ability to defy the boundaries of music genres altogether, influenced by the greats from Michael Jackson to The-Dream to Kendrick Lamar.
Now, he returns with his highly-anticipated sophomore EP titled 2020 Was Hijacked, speaking volumes to the up and down rollercoaster of this year while reminding listeners to not crumble in times of hardship. Spearheaded by lead singles “HBK” featuring Melii and “Boxed In” featuring Boogie, the 7-track project touches on topics such as systematic racism, police brutality, relationship woes and the election.
Flaunt caught up with Sainvil, who describes himself as “a Haitian guy who sings about topics as realistically as he can.”
Being from Miami, what were you seeing growing up?
It was cool. I grew up in Little Haiti Miami, which is the all Haitian section in midtown. I’m pretty sure you have been right? I grew up there and moved out of Florida when I started pursuing music really.
At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
I can’t really pinpoint, I just knew it was what I wanted to do so I always did it. It was always around me since I was a kid. My brother danced. The first stepdad I ever had that my mother rocked with for a long time, he was a DJ. He was cool. My other brother rapped. That or anything else in my life once I set my mind to it, I’m on it.
How did your brother influence you?
He always played the right type of music, which is all types of music at all times. His taste in music was very refined, but it was everywhere. He got me on Pac, at the same time made sure I knew who Jay-Z was.
Melii is so fire, talk about how “HBK” came about.
Someone from the team brought her name up, I was already a fan of her music. I wish we got in the studio to make it together, but it got put together during COVID. At the beginning of COVID, so everyone’s pretty paranoid about linking. We sent her the record, she killed it. She held her own. It was fire because not only is she one of the unique voices in music in my opinion, but her delivery is super crazy. Nobody sounds like her, her voice is nuts. She also held to the topic of the song. Do you know who HBK is?
I’m from the Bay, I’m used to HBK Gang.
HBK means Heartbreak Kid, coined by this wrestler called Shawn Michaels. He’s supposed to represent the ultimate macho man. His slogan was Sexy Boy. He’d come out to this weird music, dancing and wearing pink. A vibe of representing what a man’s supposed to be, and this is what I actually really am. I want to be HBK, I want to be macho man. She comes in and her verse is all calm down. “Chill, I got you.” How women are, they keep you grounded. They keep you focused. It’s like the magnets, the positive and the negative. She came through and delivered that same idea flawlessly, I loved it.
What was your reaction when you heard her verse back?
I went crazy. I played it 18 times. Even now when I hear her verse, it still feels amazing to me.
Were you talking about the Los Angeles hills?
Yes, it’s a triple entendre. Shout out to my guy Jay Z. [laughs] You have Beverly Hills, representing that vibe of luxury. The ups and downs every day that she has to go through, the ups and downs that I have to go through. I highlighted it in the next line, I said “the hills got me thinking ugly up and down all day, oh her life so bumpy.” It’s what those physical hills are supposed to represent, also the daily ups and downs.
With 2020 Was Hijacked EP out now, what are you most excited for?
I’m super excited. It’s to me my best work. Knowing me every single time I make something new, I’ma think it’s my best work. This is the first time I was able to within my lyrics, vibe and curate a sonic platter, do it right on the nose of the topic and not sound corny while doing it. A lot of my favorite rappers during my high school phase, either you’re listening to super backpack stuff or you were listening to Gucci and trapping. Both of those were on the rise at the same time, right before Kendrick, Sean, and Drake really started doing their thing.
I liked them both. What bothers me is when the backpack rappers came through with a similar message, some of my homies didn’t understand it because it was layered in a super intricate way. We did the same thing, but in a way where it’s easy to digest in a metaphor. I didn’t want to come off too preachy or too witty, and lose some of the people that I wanted to listen to it. I wanted everyone to listen to it because of the message itself. I needed it to be easily digested, I feel like we did that.
The title 2020 Was Hijacked is so powerful in itself.
Thank you, appreciate it. That’s a metaphor for our time being stolen from us. We’re all supposed to take over or build with somebody, kick it here and do this, but all of that was stolen from us.
How was collaborating with Boogie on “Boxed In”?
He slid! He went insane. He said “how we grown men still running from the boys?” You feel me? To see the contrast between “Boxed In” and “HBK,” even the way we put it. The first song is “Boxed In” so when it comes in, it lets you know exactly straight to the point how 2020 is hijacked and how our time was stolen from us. I have this line: “your hands in the air used to mean you were at a party. I used to only worry about a shawty but now I gotta worry about a Shotty. You got it, huh.” It’s talking about priorities and how fast it’s shifted. I used to only worry about having a good time with a woman, now I have to worry about what could literally happen to me every time I try to go out to have a good time.
It’s how a lot of young men got pushed to be men faster in this one year. Boogie and myself both said a little that meant a lot. Starting off being that heavy, then it literally shifts to “HBK” and the romantic portion of the project. Talks about how me and you still have to stand for something, but we still have to come home and deal with home things like a relationship. We got all of that cohesively, it makes sense flowing from front to back and trying to put a microscope on the person.
3 things you need in the studio?
Weed, juice, and multiple tracks being produced at the same time.
It’s not, I promise we got it. I work with the same guys, the same producers. We all link up like the Avengers and create. This is the first one, we’re already almost finished on the second one and it’s insane. It’s nuts. The weird thing about this project, it helped me elevate so much. My immediate team (my managers, Savoy, my digital guy) were influencing me to talk about real stuff. It’s made me elevate my message. This next project is all about mental health and monophobia, dealing with what I like to call Goblins. They’re people who have unreal interactions with you depending on the setting. I’m really excited for my growth in music.
How’s it feel to be the first R&B artist signed to Alamo?
It feels great. The way that they move is free-flowing so I’m not forced into any lane or sound. I’m not mad at it. Alamo is real dope at making sure I express myself the way I need to express myself.
How proud is your family?
They’re super proud. They’re hype. My mom listens to my music now, which is weird. [laughs] Before, all immigrant parents say “go to school, get a job, work for somebody.” That’s what she was on but now, she listens to it and to hear her comment on my music is dope. My mom introduced me to a lot of Haitian music so her input is super valid, I didn’t know she had that type of ear. It’s super cool.
Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
To keep growing in music and to be better to my people. We can always be better to our people. I want to make my people happier, that’s always been a focus of mine. All my people have to be good.