On the corner of Jackson Street, in a neighborhood of firsts, we are immersed in the history and distinct architecture of Pioneer Square, taking in details of the old and the new, markers of each generation’s contributions to our beloved city. We stop and take a seat at a local favorite: a cafe whose name represents not only its infamous cup of Seattle coffee, but also the intangible “spirit of the age” we all feel when crossing these Seattle streets: Zeitgeist.
Sam and I sit down with 21-year-old John Sinclair. The dedicated musician, who goes by the stage name Saint Claire, relocated three years ago to the Seattle area. He is a young man who, through his talent and commitment, now finds himself signed to one of the largest independent music management groups in the world, Red Light. Seattleites would be impressed to hear that Crocodile, Barboza, and Neumos have all hosted his shows, though Saint Claire’s personal highlight was touring with, and opening for, Macklemore and Raz Simone last Spring.
When he sits down to talk about the days between leaving home in Eastern Washington and now, Saint Claire’s energy is palpable, as is his joy and gratitude. He begins to talk about how the opportunity with Macklemore last year led to even more incredible chances, such as an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
“That was pretty amazing to sit down right next to Quest Love, and just like, fist bump me.”
His quick wit and humor shine through and our conversation begins to meander. Industry-wise, we agree to call his sound ‘Dark Pop’, steeped in soul, much like the coffee aroma that is wafting through the air.
Saint Claire’s lyrics are where he finds the greatest push for vulnerable authenticity.
“It’s the sexiest thing when you’re being vulnerable and honest; that is critical in art.” He admires John Billion (who sings the song All Time Low), an artist who straddles the middle line between brutal honesty, vulgarity and the human experience.
“[That music] sticks in your mind, and I like people that dare to be themselves. Imperfection is sexy, being perfectly imperfect, for me that’s like my bread and butter. Music is the same, that’s what makes good shit. Its not clean, sugared pop.”
Attempting to strike a balance between what audiences want, what the industry has to offer, and what sounds good to the individual could make any artist go crazy. Saint Claire touches on this challenge and concludes that having a clear voice, trusting yourself, and truly committing to your work will take you far.
“I feel like at the end of the day, if you want to do it right, you have to write and play what you want to write and play, because if you’re not doing that, you’re not being honest and that’s not sexy. So there’s like a hundred musicians writing what they think other people will like for every ONE musician who’s writing what he wants to hear or what he NEEDS to write and get out on paper, and it’s always that one person that people actually gravitate too.”
Saint Claire’s rawness and genuine spirit is admirable in a world that praises conformity.
“Having a hundred people…appreciate your material for what it is and want to spend their time soaking up your artwork is worth one hundred thousand people who listen to your track casually and [are] gone the next day. You want to reach out and touch people lifelong so it’s better to do that with one person.”
The takeaway on up-and-coming Seattle talent, Saint Claire, is that this is an artist whose voice will be heard in a generation of voices. He’s one you won’t find clamoring for fame and a million screaming fans. He is motivated by an appreciation for credible creators, originators and innovators. He is one of those artists who aren’t afraid to live their truths in private, in their work, and on-stage. To him, one is an audience. Better to make a powerful influence on that one listener who will appreciate it, than to attempt to impress a crowd who won’t.
And, once more: Saint Claire’s message to readers? “Imperfection is sexy.”