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Interview with Alexis from Sleigh Bells

30 OCT 2010 | Posted By: TheVine

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Interview with Alexis from Sleigh Bells

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The story so far: Alexis Krauss was introduced to Derek Miller at a Brazilian restaurant where Derek happened to be waiting on the table of Krauss' mum. Miller – who for over ten years was the guitarist for Floridian hardcore band Poison the Well – had relocated to Brooklyn and was looking for a female vocalist. Krauss was moonlighting a session vocalist for a bunch of local Brooklyn bands in between her duties as a fifth-grade teacher, and tentatively accepted Derek's proposal. As Sleigh Bells; they wrote, blagged their way on to the CMJ festival in New York, and then released their album of this year Treats, a compressed, punchy aural assault that combines Miller's hardcore history with the more pop/club friendly background of Krauss. Cue international tours.

Two years down the track and with the band set to journey to Australia for the first time to play a series of summer festivals, TheVine connects with Krauss as the duo navigate their way through Las Vegas while opening for LCD Soundsystem.

Nick Holt: Hey Alexis
Alexis Krauss: Hi! Can you hear me OK? We're just driving into Las Vegas right now, but we've been in the desert and the reception has been really bad.

NH: Yep, can hear you fine. Is this with LCD Soundsystem?
AK: Yeah it is. We've been driving around for two days but we're finally here and we play tomorrow with LCD, so we're very excited.

NH: And you're doing a headline tour of your own at the same time, is that right?
AK: We're primarily doing LCD shows and then we're doing some headlining shows on our days off. We finish up with LCD in about a week and then we kick off a pretty small headline tour, like two weeks; and then we go to Europe.

NH: How have the LCD shows been going?
AK: They've been going really well. We're huge fans of the band and we have tremendous respect for them, so we were both really honoured to even be offered this. We're playing larger venues than we're used to so we were both a bit nervous, but so far so good. It's always challenging being a support band for such an established band because you never really know how the audience is going to respond to you, But we've been pretty well received and I think it's been much better than Derek or I anticipated.

NH: It must be nice to alternate between the bigger shows and your own intimate ones?
AK: Absolutely. I'm completely thrilled to be able to play a huge room with two thousand people, but there's just something so special about playing a small sweaty venue that's packed to the brim with one hundred fans who are really excited to hear us play. I prefer that scenario - the energy and the excitement is hard to beat!

NH: I was having a bit of a poke around last night for some of your past interviews and I stumbled across a pretty interesting one. It was with a publication you were having a bit of a twitter fiasco with – do you remember this?
AK: [Laughs] Oh… yeah… I do remember that...

NH: I guess no artist can be entirely immune to the potential pettiness of twitter and the like.
AK: You know it's funny. I think artists are under a lot of pressure from their labels and press people to engage in twitter and social networking in general. I personally have never tweeted, Derek has a few times, but yeah it's kind of a funny relationship because it is very easy to indulge in it and there's a lot of temptation out there - whether it's responding to someone who's challenging you, or if it's correcting false information. Which as you know there's plenty of. So it can be kind of frustrating as a band to control the kind of information which is out there. I think what we've realised is, people are going to say things which aren't true and you need to rise above it, because it's worse when you try and engage it. You just end up looking petty and things get misconstrued.

NH: It does add a pretty interesting dimension to the music industry: this straight-out of the horses mouth thing.
AK: Oh absolutely and that's so dangerous because everything happens so fast. People can say anything and not have a chance to take it back. People are constantly acting and not really thinking through the information they're putting out there. It's just funny to me how there is so much pressure to engage in that and I think most times it's more harmful than helpful. It's an interesting phenomenon…

NH: The first time I heard Sleigh Bells was on the radio and I was shocked to hear that this was the new project of a former Poison the Well guitarist. Were you a hardcore fan?
AK: I was actually. I wasn't a Poison the Well fan per say, but I knew of the band. When we first met he mentioned it, but it hasn't played an important role in our relationship. He's certainly taken a lot of ideas from Poison the Well but his writing process and the music has really evolved since that time. A lot of people say it's really random and strange, but for me I think Sleigh Bells is very similar to Poison the Well in a many ways: there are a lot of interplays on heavy and soft and dark and light…that kind of thing.

NH: And he propositioned you through your Mum at a restaurant he worked at, right?
AK: [Laughs] Yes, it was a rather serendipitous meeting. I was out to dinner with my Mum in Brooklyn, who is very talkative, and Derek was a very friendly server so the combination of that and a couple of drinks resulted in a conversation that led to us ultimately discussing music and exchanging emails.

NH: The question is: is he a better musician than he was waiter?
AK: [Laughs] You know what, he was a very good waiter! But he is also a very good musician.

NH: And it was CMJ where things really came together for you guys?
AK: We got pretty lucky in the sense that we both lived in Brooklyn and when we were ready to start playing shows there were a lot of CMJ showcases happening. We had a couple of friends who were organising them and offered for us to play. CMJ attracts a lot of industry people so it was just a case of right place at the right time. There were a lot of bloggers and journalists there who took a liking to us and just started writing about the band a lot, so we were pretty lucky.

NH: I imagine New York, and even more so Brooklyn, would be a hard place to stand out as an experimental pop outfit.
AK: That's the thing. There are so many bands in Brooklyn and so many incredibly talented bands that for me, I just think we were incredibly fortunate. I have tremendous faith in the music as well and I hope that we have a sound which is refreshing. A lot of bands that come out of Brooklyn, it's much more about making music which is very cerebral and you sort of stand there and watch the band and think. We were making music that was the complete opposite of that - very reactive. Our hopes are that people feel something and they want to move and I think that may have helped us stand out from the other bands.

NH: Derek has spoken about the restrictions he felt were present with the brand of music Poison the Well played: have you faced any restrictions with Sleigh Bells yet, being a two piece band?
AK: I think Derek and I are really comfortable with where we are. We find being a two piece more liberating than anything because we can do what ever we want and we don't have to worry about being confined within the structure of a traditional band. We can use as many styles as we want, as many instruments as we want and not have to worry about feeding the people who are playing those instruments. (Laughs). I think there's tons of potential and a plethora of options. We've spoken about adding more people but we've decided for now it's more liberating than anything.

NH: And easy on the books. [Laughs]
AK: Absolutely. We're able to tour in a pretty…"cost effective environment". We have minimal gear too, so you know..it's good.

NH: What kind of pathway would you like to see this project go down in say the next two or three years?
AK: We're really eager to get back into the studio. We recorded Treats in two months, which is very little time and we left on such a creative high note, so we're just really excited to get back into the studio and execute some of those ideas. As well as our new ideas. We're also going to, pardon my language, "tour the shit" out this record and expose as many people as possible to our music and see as many countries as possible, then get back into the studio next summer. Then do it all over again!

Words by Nick Holt. More at thevine.com.au.

Sleigh Bells Australian tour dates:

Friday 7th January: Prince Bandroom, Melbourne Saturday 8th January: Forum Theatre, Sydney
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Comments on this Post
There are "3" comment(s) on "Interview with Alexis from Sleigh Bells"

Respect emilynaismith
Treats is so amazing. Can't wait to see them in January...
emilynaismith  -  3 years ago
Reply  |  Report
Advanced Member GoldPox
Alexis is purdy. She has nice rosey cheeks.
GoldPox  -  3 years ago
Reply  |  Report
Respect pashoncoop
She has nice everything. Please marry me Alexis!!!!!!!!!!!
pashoncoop  -  3 years ago
Reply  |  Report

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