Introducing… Sleigh Bells

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

  • Published

From savage metal and school teaching to dance-pop and online hype, the Brooklyn pairing's journey has been winding.

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Image caption,
Sleigh Bells are Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss

They met in a New York restaurant; Derek serving the food, Alexis dining with her mother.

"We struck up a conversation," says Sleigh Bells lead singer Alexis Krauss. "I was teaching at the time so I wasn't involved in music but my mum was like, 'Oh, Alexis is a singer'. So we exchanged emails and we got together later that week."

This was summer 2008, when dance-pop twosome Sleigh Bells was born. So-called because "everything else is taken".

Derek (guitars and beats), who'd moved from Florida a few months previously, followed up their meeting by messaging Krauss. They hooked up.

The beginning

Shortly after he quit his table waiting job, she quit teaching 10-year-olds at a school in the Bronx, New York, so the pair could take things seriously.

"It's just moving on from one amazing thing to another," says Krauss of the transition. "It's funny where life takes you."

After carving a bunch of throbbing-pop songs they only started playing shows in September 2009. Their speaker-melting mix of MIA intensity and party-rock has since been the talk of industry festivals CMJ and this month's SXSW.

"We're still under 20 shows actually. 19 or 20 is tonight," says Derek from behind a pair of wayfarers on their first UK visit.

Debut album

The product of their union is debut album Treats, set for a US release in May and the UK shortly after.

"There were a lot of "A-ha" moments in the studio which were really great," says Krauss.

"Alexis, when she does melodies, it's always very quick," responds Miller. "There's never any sitting around and beating it into the ground. It either happens or it doesn't. We're not diligently working on an idea for two weeks trying to make it work."

Speedily they put together a number of "big pop songs we always really love".

"It was joyful," laughs Krauss of the experience.

"It was easy and very enjoyable - which isn't always the case," adds Miller.

"I've made records before and it's done and you're like, 'Well, that was a complete waste of time'.

"Of course you've got to get a healthy perspective on it, you're just having a panic attack and everything is fine."

Indeed, delve into their past and Miller used to play guitar with now-extinct brutal US metal band Poison The Well.

"The music is social - I don't want to use the word "party music2 or whatever - but it's supposed to be a lot of fun to listen to," says Miller.

"I don't think we're ashamed of being really ambitious about it - but at the same time if we play to a 100 people a night that's a privilege."

And if it doesn't, well there's always waiting tables and teaching arithmetic.

"If have to go back to it, then I'll do it," nods Miller. "I'll work, I don't mind."

Sleigh Bells are just pleased to be around.

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