Bands on Bands is a recurring feature on the 35 Denton blog that will highlight musician interviews written by none other than our own local musicians. Throughout this series we aspire to help you learn more about some of your favorite musicians playing the festival this year as well as introduce you to new and upcoming acts.
Words by Ariel Hartley || Images by Shaina Sheaff
Kaela Sinclair: I did! It was an honor to be asked to participate this year. Rock Lottery is such an amazing community-building concept and it brought together every kind of Denton musician. I met some fantastic musicians that I might not have otherwise gotten to work with and interact with. Alex Hastings of The Demigs and Gary Muller of Ten Hands were really fun to write with.
In a community where there are more male musicians active than female musicians, what are some of the positives and negatives you have found with gender and the music world? Are there any changes you would like to see?
The music business is very male dominated, it’s true. Women have to be a little bit more conscious of predatory types – scam artists, managers with major control issues, etc. We also have to be more careful after a late show in Dallas walking to our car, although I think that is a female issue, not just a female musician issue.
One thing that gets under my skin is how often female musicians who are fully in command of their vision for their career are dismissed as “aggressive,” “bossy,” or another “b” word I know. I’ll actually be speaking on this topic at a 35 Denton Panel onMarch 15th with three other women: Amber Farris (Somebody’s Darling), Jessie Frye, and Jaimeson Toon (Virgin Wolves.) It’s going to be a really fun event focused on women in the NTX music scene and it will be moderated by Mark Schectman, who has just announced the launch of a new local music show on The Ticket and has been a big supporter of the NTX musicians.
Is there anybody inside or outside the Denton community that you would like to work with?
There are several people in North Texas that I’d like to work with. I’d love to collaborate with Daniel Hart of Dark Rooms, Leoncarlo, or Air Review. It would be really cool to do a song with Sarah Jaffe. Luckily, I already get to work with McKenzie Smith and some of the Midlake guys, who are constant inspirations. That never gets old.
Who are you planning on going to see this year during 35?
Umm….everyone! I’ll be spending the whole weekend seeing shows and going to panels. I’m looking forward to seeing friends in Layer Cake, The Demigs, tomkat, The Night Above Us, and Somebody’s Darling.
Are you currently working on or planning to release an album sometime in the near future?
I’m in the very early phases of planning my second album. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the studio. I love performing and sharing my music with an audience, but there is nothing like the initial, organic experience of creating music and building a concept from a small idea to something tangible that I can hold in my hands. I’ve got a couple more things to finish up before getting back in the studio though – I’m releasing a music video in the next month or two and I’m pretty thrilled about that.
What is your favorite type of setting to play in, whether it be a venue, festival, or house show and why?
Any venue with a great sound guy and a receptive audience. Festivals are great because they are about something bigger than yourself and your band. There’s always this great energy that every band feeds into and takes from. Big shows are fun, what can I say! However, I love intimate shows as well because I get to be a little more laid back and take my time with it. I like trying out new songs at house shows. It’s a nice, cozy place to be vulnerable.
As a musician you obviously already are inspired by music, are you also inspired by visual art? What sort of visual art (if any) inspires you and perhaps influences your music? Do you find it important to create a visual image along with your music?
Absolutely. I think that visual art and sonic art are the best of companions. They compliment and enhance one another. Lately I’ve been captivated by colorized photographs from the black and white era of photography. To see people and moments from over a hundred years ago made that much more “real” is a privilege of our modern era. I’m also kind of obsessed with the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Darwin. It’s inspiring to see the ideas of brilliant people in raw form, which is why I love looking at the handwritten manuscripts from composers like Mozart, Bach, and Chopin. Oh, and I love maps!
If your music had a spirit animal, what would it be?
Haha well…according to the Spirit Animal quiz I just took I’m an owl! I definitely do all of my most creative work at night and I’m a solitary writer so I think it makes sense. My music is a little bit dark and a little bit introspective.
What song would you want played at your funeral?
Oh, wow. That’s a hard question. If I had to choose right now it would probably be either “A Satisfied Mind” by Jeff Buckley or classical music. Mozart with some Chopin and Debussy sprinkled in.
Are there any other hobbies you have besides music? Did you ever imagine yourself doing anything else other than being a musician full time?
I’ve had every intention of being a full time musician since I was a little girl. I’m really fortunate that I get to do what I love. When I have free time I listen to podcasts. I do a lot of driving so I use that time to learn about the world. Radiolab, Skeptics Guide to the Universe, TED Radio Hour, This American Life, Snap Judgment, and a bunch more.
What do you think the city of Denton is missing? What do you love about Denton?
Denton has grown so much in the past few years. We’ve got a lot more places to eat, drink, and hang out. I would love to see more venues though. Specifically, I think it’s time for Denton to be host to a large venue that could bring through national acts – something similar to The Granada or Trees. It would be a great opportunity for local musicians to open up for bigger bands, and I think the demand for it is there. People in Denton love to see music but so far we only have smaller clubs.
What is your writing process like? How has it evolved over the years and what direction would you like to move in musically?
My songwriting process is always changing. Sometimes I start with lyrics, sometimes with melodies, and sometimes with both at the same time. Most of the time I write at my piano, but I also write on guitars and synths. I never want to get too comfortable and end up writing the same types of songs over and over again, so I like to change my approach regularly.
For me, songwriting has always been a personal journey of letting go of expectations – both from myself and from the outside world. Right now I’m letting the music take me in whatever direction it wants to go. I don’t want to try to write a hit song or a catchy hooks. I just want to be genuine in all that I do. I think that’s what people want out of music anyway.
Ariel Hartley is a musician who started playing music in Denton and is now in a few bands called Mink Coats and Pearl Earl along with an all female rap group called Gross Bitch. She participated in the Denton’s 2015 Rock Lottery and graduated from UNT last August with a degree in Anthropology.
*editors note, Gross Bitch is amazing.