Teddy Sinclair / Cruel Youth
Cruel Youth sounds like The Ronettes on Oxy. Each song a narcotic lullaby, subtly laced with switchblade lyrics. A psychedelic jingle you might hear while waiting in line at a Western Union, or a laptop symphony soundtracking a car crash in slow motion. It’s as if Phil Spector or The Beach Boys had bottled the pure essence of young love captured by their 1960’s sweetheart songs…years later to be uncorked, cut, cooked, and shot up as a quick fix for modern dreamers’ demand for instant desire.
Teddy Sinclair fronts the 3 piece all-girl band, joined live by guitars and keys. But when it comes to making records, there is visceral, unflinching approach that only Teddy could capture with her husband, fellow artist and songwriting partner, Willy Moon. After meeting Willy in 2013 at Universal Records, Teddy found an inseparable intimacy in their creative chemistry and the two married just a few months later. Formerly known by her stage name “Natalia Kills,” she unhesitatingly took her newly wed’s family name “Sinclair” in May of 2014 whilst legally changing her first name to her cherished childhood nickname “Teddy.” In the summer of 2015, she announced her new identity to her fans. And thus, Cruel Youth was born.
Far before the music and madness began, Teddy was born in northern England to a Jamaican-born father and a South American mother. She spent most of her early childhood visiting her dad in Wormwood Scrubs prison in London, writing him letters and poetry in between visits. It was during this process that she discovered her affinity for words and the hope and pain something as simple as a pen could possess. “My Dad was in and out a lot… but that can make you closer in a way because you appreciate the time you spend together so much more,” she confessed. Even now, after a recent conviction of international drug trafficking, Teddy still visits her father regularly at a maximum-security prison.
Before her 15th birthday, Teddy dropped out of school, left home, moved to London and scored a few small TV roles and songwriting gigs. “I wrote songs all day and all night, I had no money, no real friends and somehow, I got a few managers and record deals along the way, but nothing seemed to work out. I even joined a cult for a while but that didn’t work out either, I just kept hitting dead ends.”
“I was 19 with nowhere to live so I was sleeping on my friend’s floor and writing songs with anyone that had free time and a guitar. I made some demos, put them on Myspace and less than a year later I had flown to LA and signed a record deal with Interscope. At first I would shoplift and sell stuff on eBay to pay for nights in cheap Hollywood motels so I could insert myself into the music scene. Once it all took off and I was signed I got my own place. The first person I recorded with was Jeff Bhasker and he made most of my first album and all of the 2nd one. It was heaven.”
As “Natalia Kills,” Teddy’s records were charting in the Top 10 throughout Europe, and she was headlining shows with her band, while also opening for Bruno Mars’ and Katy Perry’s Arena tours. Under the radar, differences began to grow between her and her record label as her music turned towards a more alternative direction.
A sudden twist of events led 2015 to become a white-knuckle ride of altitudes and obstacles that no seat belt or brace position could have prepared her for. However, what rose out of the wreckage was a girl unbroken, numbed by the warm embrace of a pill box and galvanized by adrenaline and an addictive love for words and music. After finishing recording her last album on Interscope under the moniker Natalia Kills, Teddy was a personality on X-Factor New Zealand, which lead to a publicity stunt resulting in a viral media storm. She was subjected to a global witch-hunt she couldn’t defend herself against due to a wide-reaching legal gagging order. It was a regrettable situation for everyone involved, and Teddy and Willy flew back home to New York where she threw herself head-first into the songwriting world. Days later, she would collaborate with Madonna on her #1 album Rebel Heart, co-writing the track “Holy Water.” Not long after, she was drafted onto Rihanna’s writing team, where she would spend months traveling the world and ultimately co-write “Kiss It Better” off of her world-wide #1 album ANTI.
While working with such tenacious and outspoken artists, Teddy found a sanctuary where she could write songs uncensored and sing the unspeakable—no frills, no fakery, no holding back. At the end of the summer 2015, she parted ways with Interscope Records, immersing herself in recording Cruel Youth. During this transition, Teddy’s song “Problem” was featured in the film soundtrack ‘Pitch Perfect 2,’ hit Number 1 in the album charts and won an American Music Award.
“Willy and I spent almost 3 months locked in our studio, just the two of us. It was so pure…making sounds and words we loved, getting wrecked, and writing anything that came to mind any time of day or night, with the occasional drop in from friends, writers and producers who added their own take to our world. It’s all just euphoric highs, pretty sounds, and a microphone really. Cruel Youth is an intravenous hit of our love and everything I find beautiful.”