Kaela Sinclair Talks About How She Aced the Audition to Be M83's New Keyboardist
Kaela Sinclair is really, really good at keeping secrets, y'all.
When French synthpop band M83 announced last month that they were searching for a new female singer and keyboardist for their upcoming tour, Kaela Sinclair's friends and fans all seemed to be in agreement: She would be the perfect fit. And after a whirlwind, month-long search, M83 frontman Anthony Gonzalez also agreed: "It was really difficult to choose a new singer for the band," he tweeted on Friday, "but when I saw @kaelasinclair it was obvious she would be perfect!"
At the time of the call for the new member at the beginning of February, Sinclair was inundated with Facebook notifications from people who had tagged her in the post. “I saw it online and submitted a couple of videos to their page," Sinclair says. "And then, fairly recently, I got contacted by management from M83 asking me to record a video of me singing one of their songs." Not long after that came the official word from Gonzalez: "I got a call from Anthony himself and he said he really loved the timbre of my voice and that I got it, basically."
This was not the first time M83 had issued such a call for a new member, but getting the gig with the band — whose last album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards — was no given. Besides needing to be female and both a singer and keyboardist (the role serves as replacement for departed member Morgan Kibby), candidates would need to have a valid passport, prove their vocal and key prowess by submitting video evidence of both, and be prepared to basically dedicate all of 2016 to M83.
The last 12 months in particular were the perfect training for Sinclair, who won the Best Pianist/Keyboardist award at the 2015 Dallas Observer Music Awards. Earlier last year, Scottish Parliament hit her up to play at a socially conscious equal-rights festival, which was followed by a U.K. tour, during which she had the opportunity to record a live performance in a London clocktower for the Oak Sessions. Then at the beginning of this year she went viral with an after-work, iPhone-assisted cover of SOHN's "Artifice."
Sinclair, who grew up in Tampa, Florida, before relocating to North Texas, feels her classical training helped set her apart from the other M83 hopefuls. "He [Gonzalez] had listened to my first album and said he really liked my song 'Remnants Of,'" she says. The Oak Sessions performance probably played a part in that as well. "I had sent him a video of me playing that song in the clocktower in London and the way I played piano in that one is very classically inspired."
That phone call from Gonzalez happened just around two weeks ago and she'd been pretty tight-lipped about the opportunity up until yesterday's tweet announcement. But the time for silence has lapsed and as of next weekend, Sinclair will be off to Los Angeles to meet the band and begin tour rehearsals. M83's JunkTour kicks off on April 6 in New Orleans, but the second stop on the tour — and the release date of the band's new album Junk — will be in Dallas at The Bomb Factory.
There are sacrifices that Sinclair will have to make in order to seize this opportunity. As a solo artist who's been gearing up for the release of her sophomore album, as well as countless shows including an appearance at this year's 35 Denton Festival, taking on this new role meant more than just hopping on a tour bus and driving into the sunset. It meant passing out a lot of rain-checks for performances and even delaying her second album to the latter half of the year.
"You drop whatever you’re doing and you make it happen,” Sinclair says, acknowledging the importance of the opportunity. Still, she's planning on releasing new solo tracks while she's on the road and, speaking of being tight-lipped, says she's got something in the works for the weeks following the conclusion of M83's 2016 tour. "I can’t say specifically what it is, but let’s just say my band has a really great opening spot on a really big tour at the end of the year,” she teases.
As a (now former) music teacher at Hall Music Productions in Southlake, Sinclair has some words of wisdom for not only aspiring musicians, but the rest of us as well: “You have to work really, really hard. Bust your ass working. Don’t stop. Just every single day, you have to just grind. Learn how to balance that with taking care of yourself, but just never ever stop growing and trying to achieve more," she says.
While Sinclair admits there are plenty of things she'll miss about being home — her bed, the ability to casually do laundry, her friends and family — her eyes are on the prize. “Right now, I’m not thinking about missing anything," she says. "I’m just really excited to see the whole world. I’m ready for the adventure and the craziness of being on a tour bus for a long time with a lot of different people.”
A DFW-infused M83 will play with YACHT at 7 p.m. Friday, April 8, at The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St.,, $36.
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