Sleigh Bells

August 3rd, 2010 | indie

Derek Miller, one-half of Sleigh Bells, discusses waiting tables, M.I.A. and a possible Xmas record…


How did the partnership come about between you and Alexis to start making music together? Because, if I’m not mistaken, you both come from quite the opposite musical backgrounds.

We met by chance and, as it turns out, have similar goals creatively. I was waiting tables at the time. and ended up waiting on her. Her mother struck up a conversation with me and was curious about what I was doing in NY. I told her I was looking for a female vocalist…Alexis was there and mentioned she was a singer. We exchanged email addresses and started recording shortly after that.

Explain the track title change of [my personal favorite and a lot of others' favorite] “Ring Ring” to “Rill Rill” on Treats?

The demos were never officially released, so the names were all working titles. We didn’t anticipate any interest in what we were doing so we were pretty flippant in a way. Nothing was set in stone so we felt comfortable changing/moving things around for the “proper” LP.

You basically finished Treats in the eleventh hour and rather than risking a leak you got up on iTunes for sale ASAP. Who’s decision was that: band or label? And, do you believe that it was effective?

It was a joint decision. We are restless…the idea of finishing a record and having to sit on it for three months is weird. I would certainly renege or try to change it every week. I will erase or delete anything that I can, but once it’s out there I have to live with it and I’m ok with that. It was also refreshing for everyone/anyone that is interested to hear it at the same time.

It’s 2010 and there’s a lot of chatter that labels don’t matter anymore. How important has Mom + Pop/N.E.E.T. been in your development?

Very important. The internet is great initially, but a lot of early fans are fickle, because newness is their currency…not music. Everyone knows this by now. A good record label exposes your record to people that aren’t sitting in front of a monitor 8 hours a day. I’m thankful for all of the support we have received online, but it’s rarely sustainable.

You guys have quite an online following. How do you stay engaged with your fans on the web?

We aren’t huge fans of “social networking” really. Apparently, there was a time when it was important for bands/artists to break down the “barrier” separating them, but I think now more than ever it’s important to protect yourself…not just from the bad stuff, but the good as well. It’s all toxic. Twitter is a good example. It’s basically a direct line of communication from a stranger to the artist. It’s way too easy to access people. You have to shut yourself off from that in order to maintain a clear head. Feedback is good, but too much of it clouds your mind and can fuck with the creative process.

It seems like once those demos surfaced in 2009, the rest was history. Did you guys plant that seed for exposure or was that fan generated?

I don’t know…we recorded songs and put them online because we thought they were ok!

What’s your setup like in the studio (instruments, gear, software)?

I used Logic for most of the stuff. My engineer, Shane Stoneback, used Protools. A lot of the original stems from the Logic sessions were used…maybe EQ’d a bit, but mostly untouched. The rest of the record was made with sounds were in front of me.

Now you have production credits on M.I.A.’s upcoming release, /\/\ /\ Y /\, right? Any other projects you’re working on?

Yeah I did one track for Maya’s record. That’s how I met Shane (engineer/Treefort Recordings) and built confidence. I already have a ton of new material for the next record. We are going to be touring for a while so I’m trying to be patient!

So, can we expect a Sleigh Bells Xmas Record this holiday season? Maybe featuring George Clinton?



Treats out now on Mom + Pop/N.E.E.T. Recordings.

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