ERICA MCQUEEN had a busy summer, catching up with as many artists as possible at this year’s Festival One. Here is her chat with the innovative Aaron Clarke, better known as Sinai.


So you’ve been doing Patreon, can you tell me a bit about that and how it works?

Patreon is kind of like Kickstarter for people who create regularly. It’s really good for people who do YouTube channels and people who do prints and stuff. Not heaps of musicians are on there, but there are a few. Basically I’m writing, recording and releasing one song a week through Patreon and people can sign up and pledge a certain amount of money per song. If they pledge a dollar then they get the MP3 download and exclusive updates on what I’m doing, and stuff like that.


How have you found the response? You’ve dived straight into going full time with your music and you’ve needed people to back that. How have you been able to communicate the vision of what you do so that they back you?

It was super interesting starting out. I have an amazing community of friends and family in Hamilton. Amazing people. Actually, not all of them were on board at first, but there were enough… I’m kind of stupidly gutsy and I just jump in the deep end before I really know how deep it is or what I’m swimming in. I did, I jumped in and just went really hard.

Now a lot of those people who didn’t see eye to eye with me at first have come around and some are even pledging to me now. I had an amazing community to begin with and without them it wouldn’t have been possible.


How far through are you now?

38 weeks. So I’ve got 14 songs left.


So once you’ve got 52 songs, what’s the plan? Are you going to release them in a different way?

This is actually the first time I’ve said this, I’ve been meaning to put it on social media so people know, but when I finish these 52 songs I’m going to be taking them all offline and I’m going to start working on an album. So only if you’re a patron are you going to be able to keep the songs, [that is] if you’ve downloaded them throughout the year.


How have you found maintaining inspiration and creativity?

It’s all about input and output. So if your input is good, then your output is going to be good. And if you’re taking in good things, it’s almost like inspiration is a state of mind, or a state of living. It’s simple things, [like] if I don’t watch TV shows, if I don’t play video games with my friends, if I’m reading more and writing more, those are all good things that I’m taking in and bad things that I’m not taking in. It just helps me to stay in an inspired state and, to be honest, I’m not always inspired when I write songs but I do it anyway. That’s part of the discipline and the craft of writing a song… sometimes you don’t always feel it, but you can still come up with really good ideas when you’re not feeling it.


Do you find with being able to work on your music full time, you’ve got time to try out new techniques or develop new skills? Have you found that you’ve grown as a musician?

Totally. At first it was really difficult and it took me all seven days just to write the song. Slowly it got easier and easier, so now if I really wanted to I could write a song and record it in about three days. What I’ve shifted to is taking the other four days to just experiment and try stuff and scrap a verse or a certain part, and redo it with a different sound or a different instrument.

I think the way that I’ve grown most is that I’m no longer just listening and copying ideas as much, I’m more trying to push for and trying to take new ground in music. Trying to find something that no one else is doing. Whereas before I was just trying to copy Bon Iver and trying to make music that I love. Which is really good, and I think every songwriter needs to do that.


Will you continue to do music full time after the 52 weeks?

I want to, [but] it probably won’t be possible at first. The next step is to do things and put things in place that will allow me to do it full time.


You’ve been able to do some collaborations?

Kind of. I’ve been able to feature a couple of my friends on the songs. Doing a couple of collabs in the last weeks. I think I’ve got three lined up.


Got a spare dollar and want some wicked tunes? Or do you just want to know more? Head over to Sinai’s Patreon page!