24-year-old artist John Sinclair–also known by his stage name Saint Claire–is a force of nature in the music industry right now.
It seems as if he’s done it all: from composing symphonies for his hometown senior orchestra and arranging strings for Sam Lachow and Raz Simone to collaborating with Seattle’s finest, Macklemore.
“Saint Claire has always been a vessel for me to create through,” John tells me about his artistic persona right off the bat. He also describes it as a platform for him to focus his creative energy on.
Going back a few years, Saint Claire released his debut EP The District and he hasn’t stopped making music since, exploring different sides of himself as an artist and changing a lot throughout the years. “My growth has been messy and sporadic,” he admits. “I’d like to think I’ve learned to think a little less and inject less ego into the music.”
Detaching from his ego sounds like a common practice for the Washington-native artist. “I love the idea of telling a story through song, even if the story doesn’t belong solely to you,” he later tells me. “Maybe it’s something you saw in a friend, or in a stranger passing by.”
In these last few years, Claire has opted out of using gender pronouns in his songs. “It’s important to me that the stories I tell through music have some sort of ambiguity, and could be felt and understood by all people,” he explains. “Using gendered pronouns, much like using specific names, can muddle that experience.”
“I firmly believe you must make music for yourself, so you can then share it with others,” Saint Claire reveals. According to him, though music is meant to be shared with people all around the world, it’s also supposed to reflect the artist’s journey. “If you make a song purely worrying about if it will or will not be popular, it will be hollow once finished.”
As of right now, Enough For You is Saint Claire’s most-streamed single with over 7 000 000 listens on Spotify. “There are moments in the story that are heavy, but the chorus is asking what makes life worth living for you,” he points out the message of the song. “Is it all the small things or the big things?”
Though the song’s got quite a sad sound to it, Claire says that he’d like to think of it more as a “pondering song” and not so much of a sad one.
“Having 7 million of anything is still incredible to me, and I’m grateful for it every day,” he then responds to the positive outcome he’s received. “The number of people who reach out to me to say that Enough for You changed their lives in some way is immensely humbling.”
In addition to that, he mentions that Permanent Address is the single that he’s incredibly proud of. “It never really got any streams or attention, but it’s one of my all-time favourite piano parts to play.”
Both the piano and the violin are extremely important to Saint Claire. He started playing the former when he was about eight years old and he confesses that there were a lot of times when he wanted to quit, but now he’s glad his father wouldn’t let him do so back then.
“The violin is a unique part of me,” he tells me. “It’s something that’s special to my music in a way that separates it from others.” However, he also says that it’s not “absolutely vital” for it to be a part of every song.
The piano, on the other hand, is “the bedrock of composition” for him. “You can paint almost any picture with a keyboard, it’s like the landscape of music is just spread out before you.”
“My writing usually comes in waves, but the hardest part is when there’s less to draw on,” Claire talks me through him trying to overcome the creative blocks he occasionally encounters. “But usually, if you’re patient and listening, there’s always a bit of music in the air around you that can be drawn upon.”
“You can’t really force art, as cheesy as that comes off,” he then continues, revealing that the best method to break through the writer’s block and get inspired again is to listen to other artists’ work as it lets you “see new and beautiful ways of working” and “become an observer.”
Despite having released two EPs The District & Lo as well as multiple singles in the past, Saint Claire isn’t taking a “break from writing and composing” and keeps on working.
“I actually have some very big and very different plans for the future,” he says. Unfortunately, he can’t announce them just yet other than confessing that “there will be a change in direction” and he’s very excited for it.