UNT alum Kaela Sinclair returns to DFW with M83

Wearing all yellow, Kaela Sinclair reclines against a yellow background

Kaela Sinclair. Photo: Joey Armario

It’s been nearly a decade since Kaela Sinclair released her arresting debut LP, Sun & Mirror.

Sinclair’s reaction, when made aware of this fact at the beginning of a recent conversation, was mild shock and awe: “Wow,” she said. “That’s amazing. I had not thought of that, but wow, a decade. Incredible.”

Of course, time’s passage is arguably far down the list of astonishing things for the Florida-born, Denton-educated, and now Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter these days. For much of that intervening decade, she’s been a touring and recording member of the acclaimed French synth-pop group M83.

It’s with that band she’ll return to her old stomping grounds on Sunday, for a performance at the House of Blues, in support of M83’s just-released album Fantasy, which finds Sinclair sharing vocals (in French, no less) on the stand-out track “Kool Nuit.”

“That was really fun to do,” Sinclair said of singing en Francais. “I sang in French in 2016 on the tour … but this time around, it was really fun to do my own interpretation. We were thinking of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. She sings in French, but she’s American — she speaks English, but it has the sort of charm to it, which, for a French speaker, they tell me that it’s charming.”

Sinclair, who goes by only her first name professionally, has been a vocalist and keyboardist for M83 since 2016, when she responded to a tweet from the band’s founder, Anthony Gonzalez, and soon found herself onstage as a member of a globally touring band.

“I couldn’t have known what it was gonna look or feel like or be like,” Sinclair said. “But I felt like I was always on a journey. It didn’t surprise me that surprising things happened, but it’s been a journey. Personally and musically, who I am now, versus who I was 10 years ago is quite different, but I do think the core is still there.”

Embarking upon her career with M83 hasn’t left a lot of time for Sinclair to build up her own solo catalog. Since Sun & Mirror’s release, Sinclair has released a pair of EPs (2017’s We Watched the Lights Go Out and 2018’s Half Asleep) and a handful of singles. And although she demurred on specifics, Sinclair did allow there is fresh solo material on the horizon.

“I’ve definitely been continually developing my own voice and vision for music, and for what I want to say,” she said. “I’ve absolutely been developing some things that I’m really, really excited about that I’m going to be able to bring to the world this year.”

M83 at House of Blues, Dallas. 8 p.m. April 16. Tickets are $12-$20.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.