SONG BIZ – Songwriter Profile | Rie Sinclair – By Dan Kimpel
Emmy-nominated songwriter Rie Sinclair has amassed a prodigious catalog of credits for TV shows including Vampire Diaries, Nurse Jackie, The Hills, Californication, Charmed, Law & Order, plus productions for ABC/Disney & MTV, a network that utilized her main title theme for Blonde Charity Mafia.
With the release of her four-song EP, Bee Sides, Sinclair presents a collection of singles that might otherwise be lost in her whirlwind of television deadlines & priorities. Each of theses songs is infused by a rich emotional palette that reveals the artistry of an evolved and evocative singer-songwriter.
A native of St. Paul, MN, Sinclair says she had no intention of devoting her life to music. Moving west, she lived in San Francisco, CA, and later arrived in Los Angeles where she worked behind the scenes in television production. Sinclair began writing worship songs for a church affiliated with the Vineyard Movement. “Liberating, genuine people, with a very open perspective,” she qualifies. Hooking up with a producer, she began a regular writing regime. “I got in the habit of writing songs every day to see if I could discipline myself. If you start kicking the car, you can make it run.”
Sinclair’s initial career provided a perspective on how songs fit into the overall fabric of a show. “You are a piece of a massive whole. Think of the individuals, technicians, and politics that go into making on film, and television is that and so much more.”
And a creator’s understanding of this comprehensive unity is key, says Sinclair. “Look at it as if you’re standing in front of the ocean. If you go to the sea and feel insignificant and ungrateful, then you might need to start exploring how this works together and how intogral you are in the process. Everything is important.”
With a burgeoning catalog of music, it made sense for Sinclair to establish her own music library to serve the industry. “I’ll connect with different music supervisors and shoot them ideas from th library. For the work-for-hires for Disney, they’ll want a package with a specific range of emotions. They might say, ‘Give us four songs about really sad, heartbreaking situations, but keep the words general.'”
In the creative mode, Sinclair is a top-line writer who crafts lyrics and melodies within a chord structure. “The song could be taken away from those chords and the entire arrangement redesigned. That happens depending on whom I’m working with.”
With Bee Sides, Sinclair is in all-out artist mode. “there was a possibility of turning them over to someone else in a work-for-hire situation, but I wanted to find the right place for them as an Artist,” she confirms. And the four-song sampler is an ideal introduction. “It seems boring at this point to put out full length CDs. I’d rather release a series of EP’s. I’m riding a wave of what the public connects to and expects.”
She realized a natural order of creativity by writing songs for hire. “A song has to grow on me – I have to have a relationship with it,” Sinclair notes. “It’s very personal. I want each song that I write to have a life. It’s like having a child. You want to admire it on its own.”
She says, however, that writing songs, especially works-for-hire, requires letting go. “You want it to be good and to have a long life. When you come back and listen to the song later, maybe it’s taken on its own shape because you’ve grown and you’re hearing it from a different perspective.”
As both a successful songwriter for television projects and a deeply committed artist, Sinclair reflects back to earlier in her career when she arrived at an essential truth. “I had to walk away from this situation where it was my art and just ‘me, me, me.’ And once I was capable of doing that, and freed from my own grip, music became its own entity. The goal became to serve the song rather than to have the song serve me.”