5 bloggers, 5 questions, 1 band, hand-picked by the MWA writers. Welcome to FIVE x FIVE. This week: two piece indie rock band, Sleepy Kitty.
Made up of drummer Evan Sult and guitarist/vocalist Paige Brubeck, St. Louis/Chicago duo Sleepy Kitty has made a name for themselves not only for their music but also for their visual art. January saw the release of Projection Room, the follow-up to 2011’s full-length Infinity City and the 2012 7″ “Don’t You Start”. Sleepy Kitty answered a few of our burning questions for this week’s FIVE x FIVE.
Do you feel that a duo structure is more delicate or firm in its roots than a larger outfit? Is there more pressure when you’re musically obligated to one person versus four or five? | Amber Patrick
There’s more pressure as a two piece, but also more freedom. With a two piece there are just fewer people who have to all agree, so that can make some things easier musically and logistically, but there are also fewer instrumentalists to play the parts to make an idea happen. I’m very aware that when I stop playing guitar in a two piece, all of the melodic instruments stop.
What came first, Sleepy Kitty Music or Sleepy Kitty Art? Or did they start all at once? | Dan Jarvis
They pretty much started at the same time, but technically Sleepy Kitty the band came first. After that first musical collaboration that resulted in a project being named Sleepy Kitty, Evan and I continued to work together on projects – musical and visual – and just called everything Sleepy Kitty. We were helping each other out making posters for each other’s other bands and such, so “Sleepy Kitty Arts” was the name we’d put on our posters and graphic collaborations.
How do you divide your time between Sleepy Kitty Music and Sleepy Kitty Art? Do you find that one influences the other? | Eric Slager
Absolutely! It’s kind of hard to separate them because they are constantly influencing one another. If we’re doing an art project like album art or something for another band, that’s pretty much strictly Sleepy Kitty Arts (however, that gig may have come our way because a band played with our band and then asked us about album art). On Sleepy Kitty projects for ourselves, it’s a constant back and forth between visual and audio. It’s symbiosis. Earlier today I was working on a music video for our band that’s largely made up of screenprinted animations. It kind of feels like musician Paige is hiring artist Paige to do these prints for the band. We’re doing that kind of thing all the time – realizing that we’ve hired ourselves to do music videos, or album art work for ourselves, or coming up with a visual art idea and realizing that Sleepy Kitty the band is the best way to activate or utilize it.
What differences would you say the St. Louis music scene has as compared to the Chicago music scene? | Alyssa Welch
St. Louis is a lot smaller city than Chicago, and seems to have a higher percentage of people living and working here who were born and raised here than Chicago does. I feel like that means that a lot more people know each other in the music scene, or have worked on projects together, than I noticed in Chicago. In Chicago, people are always moving out of town, and new people are always moving in, so there’s a constant flow of musicians and it can be hard to keep track of bands. You may call up a band you played with a year ago to put together a show, and it turns out that band broke up and one guy lives in Austin now, one guy lives in New York, one guy moved to the small town he was from, and one guy stayed in town and has a completely different project. That also means that new, interesting musicians are always moving into town, and there’s never a shortage of new musicians and bands to find out about and work with. In St. Louis, that band you loved may not be playing together, but the players are likely all still in town, working on something new.
What would you say you’ve tried to do different with Projection Room that you didn’t focus on during What I Learned This Summer? | Patrick David
Personally, I wouldn’t say I tried to do anything different, but rather we just were different by the time we began work on Projection Room. From my perspective (which may be a little different than Evan’s) my goal on both releases was to capture the music the way I heard it in my head as accurately as possible. I guess the biggest difference was that when we started What I Learned This Summer we hadn’t been playing shows out as a band yet, and when we began Projection Room we’d been playing out as this band for years. Just having that experience makes us think on some level about how we’re going to recreate or not recreate things in the live shows when we’re dealing with 12 layers of vocals or multiple guitars, plus piano and organ at the same time. Even if the end decision (of not worrying how to play it live, and putting down all the parts we want to put down regardless) is the same as it was before, we’re just aware that it is a decision now, in a way that we weren’t when we had never played a show.