INTERVIEW // Sinclaire: Michael Cross on Niche Pockets of the Industry, Releasing Music in Isolation and New Tracks

INTERVIEW BY ISABELLA ROSS

Polished with a groovy production, Let’s Fly to Rome is Sinclaire’s second installment in their reinvented vibe. After taking a short break from releasing music the band are back and ready to challenge our ideas of genre specific music. After posting an unplanned TikTok asking viewers to check out the track, front man Michael Cross caught some attention racking up just under 19k streams in less than a month.

After having some fun with the synthesizer in I Need You an earlier release from 2020, Sinclaire have perfectly encapsulated the desire to run away leaving the ‘what if’s’ in your back pocket. Let’s Fly to Rome is sure to pick you up from your day to day and soundtrack your main character moment.

With big plans for the future Sinclaire show no signs of slowing down. They are “in the studio every weekend” with a heap of songs in the works and a little stash ready to go. Keep your eyes peeled of their next release set to come out October 8th.

I had a chat with Michael about finding his place on TikTok, beans, inspirations and the future of Sinclaire. Here is what he had to say:

Isabella: I found you on TikTok just over a week ago, I was scrolling through and saw the green beans. The video has over 19k views, do you think that attention has transferred to streams?

Michael: Yeah I think it did. I know on TikTok 20k views isn’t crazy but the engagement is wild. It got around 5 thousand likes and 300 comments. I think a lot of people actually watched it; they didn’t just pass through it which is nice. That day when I posted the video and it stated going well it definitely boosted our listeners. It’s hard to say exactly how much but the artist Spotify shows you how many people are listening at that time, when the video was popping off on TikTok we had 30-40 listeners, when on average we might have 10.

It wasn’t planned at all; I follow this guy called JC he does a lot of similar stuff. He will release a song and let people know saying he doesn’t have any money for marketing, but his are a lot more refined and thought out. I kinda just ripped the idea and did it lo-fi, I was eating beans and thought it could be funny so I kept it in and I guess it worked. The beauty of the app is that the algorithm is so unique, in terms of exposure for people with no following it just works so well. You could be anyone and get exposure, for being funny, or relatable, or wholesome there are so many avenues you can take it. I guess the bean thing and being honest was a great approach.

Is that something you plan on using again in the future to promote new music?

For sure. I am a content creator full time. I have been doing that for about 5 years and I was very reluctant to use TikTok at the start but then once I began using it I saw the appeal. Using it as an advertising platform is so different to other apps because you can’t force anything into someone’s face, your stuff needs to be genuine. Instagram is so refined and polished, TikTok really just needs to be stripped back and genuine. I love that about tiktok, the biggest video for my work got over 1 million views was shot in 10 seconds. For the band I will definitely keep using it because there is so much potential. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to follow that up. The bean idea was so ad hoc, to come up with that again is the hard part. I guess we will see what happens.

I have noticed you talking about your love of finding new music, have you found anyone recently that you would like to share?

Yeah. Every week I look at my Release Radar on Spotify, and I am always trying to find new music for inspiration. I am very into hip hop at the moment, one girl I found on my Release Radar is Ashnikko. She actually has a song on TikTok that is blowing up at the moment funnily enough called Daisy.

I take some time every Friday morning at work to listen to my Release Radar to scan through and keep up to date with the local scene. I feel like in the Australian pop scene there are not many bands that are like The 1975 you know that style. That doesn’t really exist in Australia in a smaller scene so that is a big inspiration for us. I’m always trying to find similar artists to us so we can collaborate or feature, finding new music is definitely a big part of my life.

I love the 1975 and I have always been fascinated by the size of their following in Australia with no radio time. There is definitely an audience for that sound, it would be really cool to find more bands in that space within Australia.

That’s the strange thing, there is obviously a demographic for that sound in Australia. I am pretty sure Sydney has been one of their biggest fan bases in the world if you have a look on Spotify. There is a crazy demand for them, it’s funny how that doesn’t translate into smaller bands. I guess there is no one really doing that style well in Australia. There are definitely bands that try and take parts of it and I think we are one of them, but no one is really nailing it like they do.

Here at Temporary Dreamer we have a signature question, if your song were a colour what would it be and why?

That such a hard question because the whole theme of that artwork is rainbow. I think it’s very warm, mellow and chill, so something like blue or teal would suit the laid back vibe. I see angry/aggressive songs more red and orange and I feel like this is the opposite of that.

You have mentioned a new song coming out in the next few weeks what colour will that one be?

That one is coming out on October 8, it’s kinda somewhere in the middle. It is super up beat, we have had the song for ages and we’ve been sitting on it because we feel it is a big festival song. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen any time soon so we are releasing it now. Maybe a yellow, it’s very happy, summer-y and danceable.

It’s sad that there are no festivals, but I am sure your song will bring those vibes to us at home! It sounds like you are in the studio a lot I would love to know what writing, recording and releasing music in this socially distanced 2020 has been like?

For us it has been a blessing in disguise. I am not sure if you have gone back and listened to our older stuff but as a band but there is a lot more rock and we had a very indie sound, not nearly as polished. We have developed our new sound over the period of isolation and took that time to not feel the pressure to release anything. We could chill, spend time in the studio and not be touring or playing shows. It gave us this really good space to find what we wanted to do. I think it almost ended up being a good thing for us, in saying that I do miss playing live for sure. I want to have it so when we can play shows we’ve got enough songs out there that our new songs can translate live. At the moment it would be a bit jarring to play two or three of our new songs and then go back to the old stuff. Releasing is weird, it seems like it’s a bad time to release and I know in terms of money it is probably a bad time to release because you can’t tour and profit from it. In terms of releasing digitally I think people are so engaged right now. People are spending so much time on TikTok and Spotify because we are all inside. I think now more than ever is a good time to build an online following. Once it comes out and everyone can go back to shows we will have a following that wants to hear our stuff. If anything, it has been good for us because we are a small band, I think it would be a different story for bigger artists that rely on touring to make money.

I know you are really passionate about the idea of genre bending and not being squished into a single box. I would love to know who your inspirations have been on this journey to reinvent Sinclaire’s sound.

All the songs we have are very different. We have songs with hip hop influenced rap sections, songs with heavier elements – think the end of bad guy and Billie Eilish vibes. It seems a bit all over the place but it all fits together as one thing because my voice stays consistent. The instrumentation and the vibe of the song is what changes. Especially when you are not releasing albums and just putting out singles that aren’t meant to be a cohesive piece of work you can do that. In terms of influence, like I said I listen to a lot of stuff like The 1975, Joan, Lauv, Charlie Puth and blackbear. blackbear is probably one of my biggest influences at the moment because he is very genre bending too and he releases so much music. He will put out a rap song and then he will put out a full-on pop song with Lauv and then he will do a song with Charlie Puth. It is so inspiring to see that you can do whatever you want in whatever genre you want to release but it still has your signature tone to it. I guess that is the same sort of vibe we want to go for, be able to do any genre and still have an audience.

I really love all of those artists for their ability to make music sound like an honest chat between friends. No matter what sound they have from glittery pop to rap they still sound conversational.

For sure that is what song writing is about for me. My lyrics don’t use a crazy vocabulary, it’s not anything groundbreaking but I want it to be relatable. I used to stress about writing lyrics and making them seem pseudo intelligent, at the end of the day people just want to sing along to something and relate to that. It is so cool when you listen to a song and after a couple of times you relate to the lyrics so hard and feel like you have heard the song before.

To wrap things up I have one last question. If I can put you on the spot for a moment I would love to know you 5 track playlist to dance around the kitchen while cooking dinner, or maybe eating green beans?

Alright, alright 5 tracks this is fun. At the moment I love Moderation by Eluera, she is an Australian artist from the Central Coast and that song is crazy good to dance to. I love the new BENNE song Snail I think that is great. I have been listening to Vibez by DaBaby a lot recently. u left me on read by Up Late some of our friends who also work with the same producer. Last one will have to be Fall Apart by Merci, Mercy. They are my 5 current songs I am listening to all the time, they all have a good upbeat dance vibe.

Thank you! Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m pretty happy with that, like I said our new song is coming out on the 8th October. You are probably the first people to hear that, we haven’t sent a press release out yet. We are pretty lax with those details, because we are releasing songs every 6 weeks we are go, go, go. We are trying to be quite transparent about the process, on Instagram we like to leak stuff and post dates all the time even though I am sure our publicist isn’t too happy with that *chuckles*.

I had such a fun time discussing niche pockets of the industry in Australian music. I found it really inspiring to hear about pushing forwards in a way that doesn’t feel like anything we have heard before from Aussie artists. If you haven’t already go have a listen to Let’s Fly to Rome and ready your playlist for some at home festival vibes dropping October 8.

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