Sincere Engineer Talks on New Album, Lollapalooza and More

By Zoe Blakeman

Chicago’s very own Sincere Engineer puts on a powerful energized performance at this year’s Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park. Sincere Engineer is an indie punk band that stands out with their raw and captivating approach to music. Led by the singer and songwriter Deanna Belos, the Chicago quartet has carved a distinct niche for themselves in the music world. Their music delves into the depths of the human experience, capturing emotions with a sincerity that resonates deeply with their listeners.

Sincere Engineer played an hour-long set at Lollapalooza and is opening for The Garden’s aftershow at Thalia Hall. While the band is making a mark in the indie punk world, check out this Q&A with lead singer Deanna on the world behind the group’s music.

ZB: Are you guys so excited for Lollapalooza?

DB: Yes! I’m pretty nervous but we’re all looking forward to it.

ZB: I bet! How does it feel to be performing at Lollapalooza? What are your expectations for the show?

DB: It’s very exciting and nerve-racking and scary but I’ve been going for many years so it’s pretty surreal. The fact that we’re from here and playing at the biggest festival in Chicago is very special to me. It’s our first Lollapalooza performance as well so it should be fun.

ZB: Lollapalooza attracts a diverse audience. How do you ensure that your music resonates with such a wide range of listeners?

DB: Trying to keep the energy up for sure. We’ve spent hours curating a setlist to get all of the vibes in there. We have some fast songs, slow songs, and everything in between for the average person who maybe hasn’t heard us before would dig.

ZB: How does the band prepare to engage the crowd and create a memorable experience for festival-goers?

DB: Nothing too crazy but we want to play our best. I hope I don’t pee my pants! I don’t know what to expect from the crowd, and I’m not typically one to jump into the crowd, but we will see how both the show and the aftershow goes.

ZB: Lollapalooza showcases a variety of genres. How do you think your unique blend of punk and indie rock stands out in such a dynamic musical landscape?

DB: I think we write pretty catchy songs and we are a hometown band. We fit that indie punk crossover so people who haven’t heard us before but like either of these genres will find something they like.

ZB: How has the festival impacted your career and exposure as a band?

DB: Seeing all of the bands is always cool but doing lots of media coverage is super important. I’m doing a bunch of stuff over the next few days after we play which will get our name out there. I’m not even really sure what to expect! A lot of new people will hear us, which is the most exciting thing about this festival. The aftershow also gives us another new audience of people to hear us play.

ZB: Your band name, “Sincere Engineer,” is intriguing. Can you tell us the story behind the name and how it reflects your approach to music?

DB: I took it from something from The Lawrence Arms said a long time ago. I liked the rhyme and it stuck with me. Even before I was doing music it was my Instagram and Twitter handle. When I put songs up on the internet I just used that name and it stuck around for all this time. So we just kept it. I think it does reflect the music because our music is sincere and engineered.

ZB: Your songwriting often explores themes of vulnerability and introspection. How does the songwriting process allow you to express your emotions and connect with your audience on a personal level?

DB: My process is almost like a vomit of stuff and then I pick and choose what’s working and what’s not. I write in batches based on what we like to hone into that writing style. Keeping the story and content big enough to where people find it relatable but having some specifics to make it more personal to some people. It’s hard to find a balance between the two but that’s what we aim for. We just want to make it relatable to people for whatever they’re going through in their lives.

ZB: Your debut album, “Rhombithian,” received critical acclaim. How do you feel your sound has evolved since then, and what can fans expect from your upcoming releases?

DB: Our third record is coming out September 22 and I think it’s our best work yet. With the first record, we didn’t really know what we were doing as it was my first experience recording. I would say that was more of a learning experience if anything. I’m very fortunate and grateful that people liked it so much and wanted me to keep going. Now I have my bandmates and we’ve been playing for about six years. We keep growing together and we play together really well, even to the point where we can predict what any one of us is about to do on stage or in the studio.

ZB: Your lyrics often contain clever wordplay and storytelling elements. Can you share some insights into your lyric-writing process and how you craft compelling narratives in your songs?

DB: I think a lot of that comes from the people I’ve looked up to who are songwriters. I’ve adapted a lot of those skills and always think about them when I write my own songs. I definitely want the music to be interesting but I also love writing lyrics. That’s definitely my favorite part of the process, I wish I could write lyrics all day! It’s something I spend a lot of time and effort on. I want to make it catchy and relatable and interesting to others.

ZB: “Sincere Engineer” has a strong presence in the punk and indie music scenes. How do you balance staying true to your genre roots while also pushing the boundaries and experimenting with your sound?

DB: We fit into both of those genres and the punk scene is very accepting and less technical musically. The indie scene is more technical I think and it’s a bit easier to push our musical boundaries in the punk scene. Last summer I put out two more electronic songs for fun and no one really cared for them. I definitely like pushing the boundaries when it makes sense, like between records and such, but trying to stick to our rock and punk sound is important too. A lot of people don’t like when their favorite bands change their sounds significantly so we have to balance that as well.

ZB: It’s definitely hard to find that balance but I think you guys do a great job of that. The punk community often emphasizes inclusivity and a DIY vibe. How do these principles align with your band’s values, and how do you incorporate them into your music and performances?

DB: We obviously support and encourage inclusivity and safe spaces. I think that’s one of my favorite things about the punk scene is that it’s super supportive and accepting. When I first started playing shows I could’ve done bad, but people still clapped and encouraged me to continue on the musical path. It really feels like home even if you’re just starting out.

Chicago just has a great punk scene with so many different venues, cool people, and opportunities to share music. We are accepting of everyone and want people from all over to like our music and listen to it and bond with other people. It’s a strong community that we get to be a part of. It’s really like home.

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