McClain Sullivan is a soul inspired singer-songwriter who is originally from Seattle but is now living and working in Brooklyn, NY. After checking out some of McClain’s dynamic, eclectic vibe we were really keen to interview her for Song Revelation. Despite working hard preparing for a series of live shows over the coming months we were delighted when she took to time to complete a few questions. Read on to find out, amongst other things, which modern musicians McClain is inspired by, what she’s currently working on and how she would describe her music.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
A different kind of Soul Music
Q: What is your musical background?
I started off singing classical music in choir, and though I had fun it never felt like the right fit. So I went on to musical theater, gospel, opera, singer-songwriter, and then finally on to Jazz.
Jazz was really what lead me in the direction I’ve ended up in.
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
The last twelve months have been fun, and filled with challenge. I have finally found my band in Brooklyn, and have been playing on a regular basis in the city.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
My inspirations are all over the map. Some of my major influences were Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, Diane Reeves, Errol Garner, and Monk. Then on the other side I had The Indigo Girls, The Pixies, Ani Difranco, Tracy Chapman, and the list goes on.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
Right now I think that Florence Welch is one of the most outstanding new artists out there. I love the fact that her chops are truly unreal, and she is such a little nut job with the way she represents herself. She makes it easier for all of us to fly our freak flags.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Ani Difranco, hands down. It would be an honor.
Q: What songs are you listening to at the moment?
I have been listening to Emeli Sande, The Ravonettes, Little Hurricane, and also a lot of Michael Kiwanuka (what a voice!).
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
Every song is different. Most of the time it’s me in a room brainstorming, and trying new things out.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
They kind of hold hands in importance. They are best friends.
Q: Where are you based?
I am based in Brooklyn, NY.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Well, I am actually from Seattle, but have been moving around since I was 15. I moved to New York when I was 17, and it changed my life. Since then I’ve been in Austin, Wilmington, NC, Boston, and always find my way back to Brooklyn. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I just recently got my full band together out here, and we have been working hard together. We have a great live show together, and plan on recording our full length this winter. We are all super excited.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
I opened for The Roots years back with my partner in crime Fuzz Jackson. We have a hip-hop duo Fuzz and Mac. That was one of the first times that I felt like the rush of people screaming when I get on stage.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in over the next 12 months?
My usual answer, super stardom.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
My next show is at Sullivan Hall, June 12th at 9. It’s a great venue, and with a great line up as well.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I am a huge book nerd. It’s always been my escape.
Q: Where would your favorite holiday (vacation) be and why?
Anywhere tropical. Just give me the beach, and I am a happy camper. I find the ocean very inspiring.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?
One of my mentors Ted Sod once said to me, “Once you start worrying about what the audience is thinking, you stop being an artist”.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
I’m never happier then when I’m on stage.
Editor’s Note: With inspiring lyrics and an eclectic, jazz infused tone, McClain Sullivan shines individuality but with a distinct commercial edge. If you have a chance make sure you check out some of McClain’s live shows. Definitely one of Song Revelation’s Ones to Watch
If you’d like to check out more of McClain Sullivan’s tracks or get in touch, just follow the links below: