Yeah, Creator’s Project was awesome. Part of the greatness of the event was getting to sit down for a few minutes, open forum Q&A style (moderated by Shane Smith of Vice Magazine) with the super-hip/ultra-cool band-of-the-moment, Sleigh Bells. I mean, I used to think only Elvis Presley could pull off the “wearing sunglasses while indoors” look but guitarist, Derek Miller, and, singer, Alexis Krauss have definitely give that theory a run for it’s money.
Having met in 2008, the band hails from Brooklyn, with Derek coming from former hardcore band Poison The Well and with Alexis having sung in the pop group Rubyblue as a teenager. Their set-up is similar to another two-person band I fucking adore (ahem) and they play to a backing track of music from a Macbook Pro, making the only live elements be their guitar work and vocals. No doubt you’ve heard the track “Rill Rill (Ring Ring)” at some point this spring/summer if you’ve managed to leave your house at all. Their shows are known for their high energy and radical antics, so it was much to my surprise to see how down to earth and humble these two were.
And if you didn’t get the memo, they’re playing a sold-out show at RNR Hotel tonight. Scalp them tickets, kids!
Why did Vice & Intel ask Sleigh Bells to be a part of The Creator’s Project and vice versa?
SHANE (of Vice): Because Sleigh Bells are hot. Sleigh Bells are an amazing band and there’s not any sort of requirement for Creator’s to use technology, despite what it may seem, they’re just great creators. They create great music. And we have some of the best bands in the world right now, and they’re one of them.
DEREK: Wow, thank you. No pressure. But… I think it’s just really great company to be in. It’s a great opportunity and it’s the mix as well… you have like Interpol and Die Antwood and then the “special guest” [M.I.A] , you know. Any opportunity to play with bands in different genres is always amazing, because that’s how it should be.
ALEXIS: You know we’re also stoked to be here with Spike Jonze who’s been a big, big supporter. We’re in New York right now, we’ve had a couple weeks off and it’s so great to come home and be a part of this mini-festival that’s sorta so self contained but yet still successful and accessible… full of creativity.
DEREK: Yeah, I mean there was no reason to say no. It’s incredibly flattering.
How has it been working with M.I.A, since you guys are on her N.E.E.T label? How is the collaboration?
DEREK: She’s rad, man. I mean, I feel like she… well, we’re both big fans of her work. We definitely did not expect it. You’ve got to realize that we had like ten people listening to our band…. our neighbors, our friends..
ALEXIS: Our parents!
DEREK: Yeah, they approached us really early on in the process. It was a very pleasant surprise. You just never know when you’re starting out a band if it’s going to be good or if it’s going to be shit. She’s just been very encouraging. M.I.A’s got this strange approach to pop music… it’s really inspiring. I feel like I think we have that in common. Ultimately it’s pop music, what we do. She’s great, fun to work with.
Speaking of the idea of pop music, did the band become heavier as you evolved your sound or did you start out with that aim?
DEREK: You know it’s actually getting heavier, what Alexis and I are doing. The newer songs, like the first song on the record which is called “Tell ‘Em” I has this intense melody on it. I was afraid to do it for so long because I had abandoned heavy drone for a few years. But it was just there, always in the background and I was just craving it. It just took awhile for us to understand how the melodies and sounds would work together in a heavier frame. Like should we be using a double kick or something. But, yeah it’s sorta heavier. I see us going farther than that directionally.
ALEXIS: Yeah, the melodies are built upon themselves. We just played with options.
DEREK: And we definitely castrated it. The problem I have with heavy music is that it tends to be more about the theme and the aesthetic and all the fight and macho-ness, it gets kinda boring. It seems to translate well in the live setting.
Did you guys have a struggle on how to get the vocals to match the melodies you had written?
ALEXIS: I think that’s our sound. You know, I have this very light pop voice so that’s what happens when that’s what I’m bringing to the table. So yeah, no doubt, there are going to be some times where you still have to push yourself and you’re not going to be comfortable.
DEREK: Yeah, we’re still learning but we’re figuring it out.
Have you had a chance to interact with any of the other artists involved in Creator’s or elsewhere?
DEREK: Yeah, you kinda run into people… we just chatted with Nick Zinner who’s installation is really, really nice. But yeah.
ALEXIS: It’s nice because this is super casual, so you see people in passing and can easily say hello.
DEREK: I’ve heard ATP [All Tomorrow's Parties] is like that. The musicians are at the bar with the fans and that’s great as well. It’s just not an opportunity that often happens. I mean I don’t want to be off in my own wing, sitting around, looking at my phone. It’s not a lot of fun.
What do you hope to take away from being a part of Creator’s Project?
DEREK: I think the obvious note is that we just want to have a great time. We’re incredibly excited to be here.
ALEXIS: Yeah, we’re still such a new band that it’s nice to be around making art for people in cool spaces.