A few weeks back we featured St Louis duo Sleepy Kitty as our ‘track of the day; with the immense ‘Don’t You Start.’ We then introduced them on Amazing Radio and we’ve described their second album ‘Projection Room‘ as “sounding like Debbie Harry fronting the Breeders or The White Stripes reviving the girl group sound as directed by David Lynch. “
And ‘Projection Room’ really is worth wrapping your ears around if you have a passion for sophisticated garage-pop that combines reverb heavy guitars, layered vocals and an overall sound that fuses a sixties girl group sensibility with visceral nineties angst. Singer, guitarist and Gwen Stefani look-a-like Paige Brubeck alongside drummer and percussionist Evan Sult (ex-Harvey Danger) have fashioned an album that although eclectic, works wonderfully as a cohesive whole, creating a sound so expansive that’s it’s quite difficult to believe just two people were involved in producing such a glorious full-on noise.
And although we think Sleepy Kitty are the cats whiskers, they are relatively unknown here in the UK, and so with that in mind we went on a fact finding mission which resulted in Paige Brubeck answering a barrage of Sleepy Kitty related questions…
VP: Hello there! Now here in the UK, there may still be quite a few of us who are new to Sleepy Kitty’s oeuvre, can you tell us a little about your formation and musical ethos.
PAIGE : Evan and I were both in other bands when Sleepy Kitty started, and it was basically just a fun thing that was for working on stuff that our other bands weren’t doing. I was working on sound collage for a class at School of the Art Institute Chicago with my friend Phil who was visiting. We got Evan involved, and when it was finished it became the first Sleepy Kitty piece.
VP: Your ace second album “Projection Room” has just arrived, would you describe it as a concept album? What would you say the main themes are?
PAIGE : I guess you could call it a concept album, but basically it was Evan and me having fun watching a lot of films and writing songs about some of them. We got into a huge Jean Luc Godard phase – Breathless, Contempt,Masculin Feminin – all which inspired “Godard Protagonist Inflection.” “What Are You Gonna Do When You Find Bigfoot?” was a direct response to a great documentary called Bigfoot: A Beast on the Run. A lot of the album is based on fiction, and I guess a lot of it is narrative nonfiction.
VP: Sleepy Kitty has been reported as being, not just a musical project, but also an arts project. Could you expand on that for us?
PAIGE : Besides the band we also do visual art, screenprinting and design projects. We do a lot of screenprinted posters and album art for other bands and we call all of that Sleepy Kitty Arts.
VP: I played “Projection Room” to a friend recently, who’d never heard your music before and afterwards he beamed and said ‘ that’s the sort of music that makes the world a better place.” What have been your favourite moments together as a band and most memorable reactions from fans?
PAIGE : Wow. That’s such a great response! There’s so many favorite moments. I really like tour. We love going to new places and meeting new folks and bands, so tour is a lot of fun. One of the most exciting things we’ve done yet was a laser show called “Laser Kitty” in collaboration with the Saint Louis Science Center Planetarium. That was pretty rad because the laserist had choreographed a laser show to our new album, and that was the listening party/release party for our record. Everyone lies on the floor on mats and looks up into the dome to watch the show. It was pretty stunning.
VP: What’s the plan for 2014, any chance of you making it over to the UK?
PAIGE : We would LOVE to make it to the UK if we can figure out the details. Plus, the good friend that was there for the very beginning of Sleepy Kitty lives there. We’re hopefully going to be doing some more projects like Laser Kitty – bigger multimedia things like that. Also, more touring. We’re getting ready to go to Austin for SXSW which is now just around the corner!
VP: As you’ve both been in other bands before what are the main differences performing as as a duo, more freedom perhaps, but more responsibility?
PAIGE : That pretty much sums it up. More freedom, and more responsibility. We’re a lot more portable for tour since there are only two of us. But that also means that there are only two of us to deal with all the gear (somehow we still have a ton of gear. Not sure how it works out that way) and get to the merch table and deal with all the details of tour. Onstage it’s a lot of fun to see what you can do with two people. I try to use loops to compensate for some of my harmonies and additional guitar parts on the record, but then there is also the suspense of knowing that if I stop playing guitar on stage all of the melodic instrumentation has stopped. It’s kind of suspenseful too.
VP: Did the bands sound develop via experimentation or did you both agree on a particular sound you wanted to achieve ?
PAIGE : Experimentation is exactly where it came from. I mean, we’ve both set out to make music like Pavement, The Fall, and The Velvet Underground and we’re kind of doing our best to make music inspired by those bands, but we like a lot of weird stuff and try to put in it our sound too. Sleepy Kitty is like a curry of all of our favorite musical flavors. We don’t worry about what we think would “make sense” or “match” and instead we just grab from everything we like. Which includes the bands I mentioned, but also Vincent Minelli musicals and Steve Reich among others. Evan recently described us as part “Heart of Glass,” part Philip Glass, part Ira Glass, part breaking glass. Some how all of our interests musical, and visual combined makes Sleepy Kitty.
VP: A lot has changed in the music world over the last ten years, what have been the major advantages and drawbacks for independent musicians?
PAIGE : Well, I never really experienced the previous version of the industry from inside so I can’t really say what the differences are touring as a band say in the ’90s on a label – even a small label – and what it’s like today. Evan has had the experience of touring in a bus as a band on a major label (with his first band, Harvey Danger), as well as a band in a van on a very small label. To me it seems like there used to be more money flowing around the music industry on all levels – around giant acts and major labels, but also small independent bands and labels. But really, it seems like every industry had more money flowing around in the ’90s. You don’t have to purchase music to be a music fan, or to even have a music collection anymore. Just the very nature of a music collection has changed. Back in the day if you bought a CD and it was in your collection, you were invested in the music. You invested $12 or whatever, but also if someone looked at your collection you had some ownership over it. Now, that financial transaction is different, but also that kind of emotional ownership and responsibility you have to take over your music is different too. Having MC Hammer’s records in your collection is really different than having an MC Hammer Pandora channel. I do think that the way that the industry works today allows way more music to be made. It seems like it might be harder to make a living off of music, and I think less people expect to do that, but there are so many relatively tiny bands compared to Katy Perry or Taylor Swift or whatever who can release albums and tour and have thousands of listeners spread out over the world wide web. It’s a weird time we live in. I can’t really figure it out.
VP: And I almost forgot to ask this obviously vital question ;), but where did the name Sleepy Kitty come from
PAIGE : The name Sleepy Kitty came from the time that Phil, Evan and I were working on the sound collage. We’d also all been on a YouTube cute-cats-falling-asleep binge, so when we needed to fill a name in the band name spot so we could save and search for it in iTunes we called it Sleepy Kitty. A year later Evan and I realized we were in a band called Sleepy Kitty. We just never stopped using it.
VP: If you could sum up your sound in five words …
PAIGE : Enthusiastic. Distorted. Harmonic. Artsy. Sincere.