Sinclair reaches through the screen with confidence and positive energy in the music video for her song, “Drop Dead Knockout,” premiering exclusively with Audiofemme.
Co-written by Sinclair, Nikolai Potthoff and Julia Hugel in 2018 in Berlin, Germany, the unapologetic bop embraces themes of individuality and self-acceptance. The free-spirited video features LA-based choreographer and actress Courtni Poe dancing her way through the streets of Berlin, past graffiti and into the subway station, with her effervescent moves, bright energy and spirit reflecting the song’s nature. Sinclair and her wife Natalie Rose spent a couple of months living in Berlin and wanted the playful video to capture its unique, eclectic vibe. “The thing that I’ve connected to is that there is this overall sense of self-expression and individuality. There is a sense of crazy freedom,” she says of the city. “I feel so at home there.”
Sonically, the track intertwines Sinclair’s vast-ranging influences, from the bold hip-hop of Timbaland to Sade’s blend of pop, jazz and soul, while the singer herself plays that infectious guitar loop. Filled with attitude, the track finds Sinclair stepping into a place of self-confidence, singing lines like “all the girls/try for me/ I’m as good as they want me to be” with casual bravado.
“We’re allowed to say that; we’re allowed to have that confidence,” she says. “‘Drop Dead Knockout’ is really about me coming to this place in my individuality and being able to wear what I want to wear and self-express the way that I want to. I think knockout, it’s that power, it’s like that guttural confidence. It’s feeling in your gut you can do anything and take on any shit you got going on in your life and dreaming big.”
Though the video solidifies her singular vision, the singer admits that seeking individuality has been a lifelong quest. Raised in upstate New York in the small town of Madrid, Sinclair is sixth in a line of nine siblings, her father an Evangelical pastor and mother a teacher who homeschooled all nine children. A Beatles fan at the age of four and learning to play piano a year later, Sinclair discovered her musical passion at age 12 when her father began teaching her how to play classical guitar, quickly becoming “obsessed” with the instrument.
It was during this time that she began writing songs and accepting her sexuality, knowing her whole life that she was attracted to women. But growing up in a religious household where the family’s belief system was tied to the church stifled her ability to share her feelings with those closest to her. “It was really hard for me in that period to write honest songs. I was writing in code,” she heartily laughs. “I was trying to write songs that sometimes were reflecting that, but if I wrote those songs, they had to be enough in code that nobody would ask questions that would get to the bottom line.”
Sinclair came out to her family when she was 20, the news creating friction between them, as they wouldn’t accept her. “When I came out, it was really hard because I felt really betrayed in the sense that they projected on to my character new things,” she reflects. “I think what was heartbreaking was that there was a sense that I was a totally different person in my character overall. Even though the truth was there now, there was still this overarching sense of loneliness, because nobody was really trusting me and knowing my character at that point.”
She left home for Nashville in 2011, where she met and fell in love with Natalie. The couple wed at an all-boys school in Nashville in 2014. Rather than viewing the lack of acceptance from her family through the eyes of bitterness, the singer says it’s part of the journey to finding pure happiness and peace, knowing she found the person who brings meaning to her life. “I have this sense of excitement over the freedom that I get to experience now every day and it’s never lost on me,” she observes, adding that she has recently reconnected with her family. “I understand more than a lot of people how simple life is and I’m lucky, and it’s really because of all that shit. It’s a blessing and a curse.”
With a sound that blends hip-hop and flamenco music, along with her colorful style that’s splashed across her Instagram, she seems to embody individuality; each element is a piece of the journey to Sinclair’s discovery of her creative identity. But she admits that pressure to conform to music industry standards has made it difficult over the years to find artistic independence – she notes that she didn’t start dressing the way she wanted to until two years into her relationship with Natalie. She says her “awakening confidence” allowed more of her true self to click into place. “I just wish for everybody that wherever they’re at now, they’re able to find happiness and confidence in their own skin,” she says.
She pinpoints one relatively recent epiphany: a visit she and Natalie took to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain in 2018. While analyzing his work, she saw a progression in which he began his career following his contemporaries, to eventually abandoning classic technique and creating his revolutionary style. As she continues down her own distinct path, Sinclair may find herself voyaging through an artistic evolution of equal lengths. “He was good until his 40s, and then he was good and different, and then he was a noteworthy artist. And I just was like ‘that’s what being an artist is about,’” she proclaims. “I think that I’ll always be learning that.”
“Drop Dead Knockout” is available now. Sinclair is currently on tour with Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra through Nov. 20.