Kristi Lane Sinclair
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Kristi Lane Sinclair

Toronto, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Toronto, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Alternative Grunge




"Kristi Lane Sinclair’s The Sea Alone: album stream and Q&A"

When singer and guitarist Kristi Lane Sinclair was a teen in the small B.C. town of Prince Rupert, she knew she wanted to get out — and music was her escape route.

She moved to Vancouver, studied classical guitar and composition and, before long, she was blending classical technique with the edgy grunge music she'd grown up with, and still loves to this day.

Her unique sound and rich, brutally honest vocals have won broad acclaim, and now Sinclair is getting set to release her latest album, The Sea Alone.

CBC Music spoke with Sinclair about her true home on Haida Gwaii, her mix of classical and grunge and the new album, which she tossed in the trash and started over after a nasty breakup. You can find that Q&A below.

How did you get your start in music?

I started playing guitar when I was about 15, and when I was 17 I went to music school at Vancouver Community College. I moved there from Prince Rupert, and I started in classical guitar, moved to contemporary guitar and then I finished as a composition major, leaving with no diploma because I couldn’t pick my major [laughs]. But basically I started in life playing grunge songs, and the college put me into classical guitar because they thought I had a really good rhythm and aptitude for it. And it turns out that that’s the only musical training that has stuck. So you can still hear a lot of classical guitar in what I play.

That’s a big move, from Prince Rupert to Vancouver.

I think I was more committed to getting out of Prince Rupert, because I was the weird little arty kid who just kind of stayed in her room. So I knew I needed to get out of there, and I really wanted to be a musician, but I hadn’t told anyone at the time, so I was like, “Maybe I’ll apply to music school.” I hadn’t had any technical training, and I didn’t know how to write a note on a page, so I took lessons, learned how to write music really quickly and sent tapes out in Vancouver. But it was basically an escape route.

When did you decide to commit to it as a career?

As soon as I decided that I wanted a guitar, I decided that that’s what I want to do. I think my mom got me a Smashing Pumpkins VHS, and I was like, “That’s what I want to do. I want that to be my job.” But of course in Prince Rupert you don’t tell anybody that, because they’d laugh at you. Luckily the guitar thing actually worked out and I had a bit of an aptitude for it.

Tell me about the relationship between grunge and classical.

Grunge is the style of music that inspired me, and I’m still kind of stuck in the '90s, so that comes out all the time [laughs]. But I also have a strong love for simple repetition, and classical guitar is great for writing, because I put myself into a little bit of a trance when I’m doing classical guitar, and then I can just scream over top of it. To me it sounds like they belong together.

You’re just about to release your new album, The Sea Alone. Tell me about the inspiration behind it.

My last album had run its life, and I was working toward a new album, and I had a solid group of songs — a lot about somebody I was in love with. It was somebody overseas, so it was an “I love you but you’re so far away” kind of album. But then basically the ultimate betrayal happened, and I had to cancel the record, and the studio dates, because the person was also involved with the record. So I was like, “I’m not singing these love songs,” and I was throwing them all out. The business side was also a mess. It wasn’t the greatest.

So what did you do?

I planned this maniacal revenge and said, “I’m going to write the best songs that I possibly could about this, and bring it to the highest production that I could afford, and basically throw sand in their faces that way" ... so essentially it’s a heartbreak record, essentially a really angry record, but I think there are really beautiful parts and peaceful parts to it, too.

Tell me about some of the songs.

Basically the concept is the sea. Growing up on the coast, whenever I want to think about something, or something is bothering me, I can always go sit by the ocean and feel better. I do a lot of travelling and that’s my favourite thing — just get me to the ocean. So it’s like I have this inherent pull towards it. So when all that happened, I was obviously like, “Get me to the ocean.” And I guess I realized that, since I was a kid, that was the only thing I could really count on. So that’s basically the theme of the album.

But this first song is more dark and then the end song is the one that makes peace with everything. I won’t tell you what “Sorry” is about, but it’s pretty literal. That’s been my favourite song to tour, because the audience reaction is always funny. I usually get a laugh and then people get really confused, and then at the end they just gasp. It’s like, “OK, moving on.”

You have Aboriginal roots on Haida Gwaii, and you are also part Cree. How do those roots feed into you - CBC

"The Sea Alone – Kristi Lane Sinclair reviewed by Janet Rogers"

Imagine this: Nick Cave, The Smashing Pumpkins, Leonard Cohen, Lenny Kravitz and Chrissie Hynde all gathering one lusciously dark Halloween night over a musical caldron, casting a spell to produce the ultimate punk-folk-rock hybrid artist. Kristie Lane Sinclair is that hybrid artist. Her new album, The Sea Alone, contains a satisfying sound reminiscent of the above named artist, but there is also something unique Kristie breeds into her songs to make them all her own. The Sea Alone is Kristi’s second album to I Love You released in 2009. As a trained and skilled sound technician, she is able to produce well-balanced arrangements with lyrics that speak of an urban reality, not meant for the faint of heart. The darkness found in her songs is pleasant to the ear and the spirit. The long drawn-out phrasing, consistent throughout the album, is reminiscent of her prairie Cree heritage sounding, at times, like pow wow vocables and chants.

There is a definite jump in skill and confidence since her first album and this puts Kristi into a competitive category with other great Indie bands out there. There is safety in numbers, and good business sense too as Kristi set out on a national tour (The Red Ride Tour) with two of her musical sisters, Vancouverbased Métis cellist Cris Derksen and Brooklyn-based electronic violinist and sound artist, Laura Ortman. The track “Sorry” is a heart-break ballad that is more to the point rather than alluding to the reasons for an ultimate break-up with a surprise ending. The musical composition lends itself nicely to the moody atmosphere of the song with only a hint of regret found in the lyrics. “Oh Boy” is an electric country-surf upbeat number inviting the listener to “leave the beer on the table and get on the dance floor.” The title track, The Sea Alone, is a sexy dreamscape with cello-induced killer-whale cries sweeping through intermittently. The Indigenous Indie music scene is a richer place with the inclusion of The Sea Alone. Thank you Kristie Lane Sinclair. - BC Musician Magazine

"OUR PICK - Kristi Lane Sinclair"

Artist—Kristi Lane Sinclair
Song—Chinese Radio
Album—I Love You

Kristi Lane Sinclair starts her début CD release I Love You with the ‘Last Song’, which one might have thought by the title, should have been at the end of this song set. But Kristi Lane proves to be somewhat unpredictable. Kristi’s guitar playing is crisp, with clean acoustic picking and it complements her sometimes soft spoken and moody singing style. Chinese Radio switches things up and is a romping fun two-stepping song, the sort you don’t hear too often on new music releases. Chinese Radio will beg you to go get your dancing shoes on looking for a partner to swing and twist with; like our past generations did (it was called a square dance.) Kristi easily makes it cool again. In addition to the backing instrumentation, I generally find Kristi’s melodies, voice and guitar playing to be rather calming, the sort of performance you might come across at a trendy coffee shop where you halt your conversations to listen. Or fitting for a quiet night at home when you’re in a contemplative mood by yourself, perhaps.

Review by Keven Kanten - The Aboriginal Multi-media Society

"CFMA nominee Kristi Lane Sinclair’s latest album"

The Sea Alone is the title, not only of Kristi Lane Sinclair’s second album, but of the opening and closing tracks. Already, the waves are rolling in on you. Each one a finger, a thumb washing over acoustic guitar strings, the rhythm comes ringing, with herring gulls screeing, waiting for the voice: we hear it first as a purr, but then the listening transforms it to an approaching nimbus, whispering of warnings. Each gust spells out traces of streets with empty endings while a somber cello mixes all the colours into brown smears and garbage can drums roll and crash down basement staircases. Think we better go inside?

And that’s just the first song! Everywhere Kristi Lane takes us there are caution ribbons that signal a malicious potential, snapping in the wind. She is a bellwether of the immanent threat. The emotional atmosphere that her voice creates both conceals and reveals her meanings, and complicates any attempt at casual listening. The fierceness of the record grows. Subsequent tracks will enclose her murmur in a high voltage percussion cage with clattering razor wires of electro guitar. Are they there to protect the singer or you?

Vulnerability is her dodge. She is on the attack. Every song presents an immediate puzzle to the ear. Her melodies sometimes run cross current to the guitar; a minor chord in “Mandoline” is obfuscated by a disturbing low sixth in the voicing; when she mounts the bass line into the stratosphere on “What Does That Mean?,” an F-bomb drops suddenly with well-aimed contempt; final notes of phrases slur into a signature atonality – until the penny drops – she may have been just talking to you all along, in a recitation, with hints of musicality thrown in to coddle your acceptance of her meanings and motives. “What does that mean?” she asks in a song. Good luck with that. The words are not incantatory, but detailed messages. Pay attention. “I’m sorry doesn’t mean anything”, she concludes in the next track.

Although she rightly claims grunge/classical parentage, Kristi Lane Sinclair is also an invader of the territories of the English folk song tradition. A suggestion of a British accent in her voice sharpens her lyrical slice. Her long words challenge your patience and your attentions. While she’s taking careful aim at your arteries with serrated word play and a surprise barrage of scissor spit in the rockers “Oh Boy” and “Three of Hearts,” the hazy drift of Cris Derksen’s cello, the reassuring harmonies of Christa Couture, Joy Mullen’s forthright, well-mixed drumming, the acoustic guitar’s warmth, and even the uniquely-designed embrace of the cardboard sleeve design combine to make a package of graceful self-agreement. Ms. Sinclair’s irreconcilable longings affect you, ultimately, with empathy for her serene faith in making use of her articulation to hinder their powers over her. And the waves roll out again.

As a result of the tremendous artistry of the record, and a few intriguing videos (watch them below) the record is being greeted enthusiastically. Says Kristi: “’The Sea Alone’ has been doing quite well. For me, it almost feels like cheating. When I asked for advice from a mentor years ago about making it in the music industry he said ‘Make a great record and you won’t have to do anything’. I think that’s what ‘Sea Alone’ did. I had the best band, producer and production team getting behind songs that I felt so strongly about and since then, it’s been nothing but good news. With a June release I was still able to secure several festival spots (Aboriginal Music Week Winnipeg, Victory Square Block Party, Vancouver BC, Peachfest, Penticton and Spirit Within in Whistler). The album has charted in Vancouver and Ontario and received several promising reviews (Georgia Straight, CBC, BC Musician Magazine) and show requests keep coming in.”

Kristi Lane Sinclair is a nominee in the Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year category at the Canadian Folk Music Awards this year. What kind of feelings does she have about this momentous recognition? “I just found out! My friends all texted me and told me. It made a great way to wake up! I hope to showcase or build a show around the awards ceremony. This is in the early stages. Between now and the awards I am basically just taking a break from being on the road to plan the next tour and apply for grants. Collaboration is high on the list (teaser!) And of course, winning would be huge; but at this point I am overwhelmed by the recognition of our album. It’s self-released, and we are proud to see that it has a life of its own.” The winners will be revealed in Calgary on November 10th. Stay tuned to Roots Music Canada for more backgrounds and further updates. - Roots Music Canada


"The Sea Alone" Full-length sophmore Album by Kristi Lane Sinclair, released June 2013

"I Love You" Full-length debut Album by Kristi Lane Sinclair, released Oct 2010

"Last Song" music video featured on First Tracks, a national television show and received national radio play.



2017 Best Rock Album winner at the Indigenous Music Awards, Haida/Cree singer-songwriter Kristi Lane Sinclair is emblematic of a new wave of Canadian indigenous artists who are turning perceptions upside down. Raised in British Columbia’s backwaters, and drawing more from a DIY/indie aesthetic than traditional or mainstream music, Sinclair’s musical roots create a darkly intoxicating mix of grunge, folk and classical. Her smoky folk is rich and orchestral, underpinned with alternately snarling guitars and warm strings. Watch her six-part documentary series airing on APTN, Face the Music follows Kristi’s journey as she releases her latest album.  


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