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Friday August 22nd 2014

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Bust out the Bells and Whistles

By Hana Frenette

The noise-pop band Sleigh Bells formed in Brooklyn in the summer of 2008, thanks to a Brazilian restaurant and a shamelessly proud mother.

“I was out with my mom, with whom I’m very close, and Derek was our server,” singer Alexis Krauss said. “My mom wanted to ask him is he was really Brazilian.”

When Derek Miller, aka, the other half of the future Sleigh Bells returned, Krauss’s mother popped the question. It turned out that Miller was not Brazilian, but from South Florida.

“My mom is from there, too,” said Krauss, “so they started talking about Florida and he told her that he was a musician looking for a female vocalist for this project he was working on.”

Krauss’s mother took that cue to point at her daughter and inform him that she was a singer and would be just great for something like that.

“Really, mom, did you just say that?” Krauss recalled, laughing.

Before Krauss and her mom left the restaurant, she and Miller talked a little bit about what the music project could be, and what it might sound like.

“Derek gave me his email and said, ‘If you think I’m full of shit, you don’t have to contact me,’” Krauss said. “I was lying in my bed later thinking, ‘Where is this gonna go?’”

Krauss did contact Miller. Soon the pair began working on some tracks and demos. At the time, she was working in south Bronx as a fourth-grade teacher in a bilingual classroom as part of the Teach For America program.

“Derek and I started to record the following year, and I stopped teaching and went back to waiting tables,” Krauss said. “And then our album “Treats” came out in 2010.”

Everything was falling into place. Perhaps it was Krauss’s prior musical involvements that gave her some insight.

“I was cast into this all-girl band when I was about 12, that was pre-packaged pop stuff,” Krauss said. “It was called Ruby Blue, and you could definitely look up some YouTube dirt on that.”

Krauss stayed in Ruby Blue until she was 16 and decided she was over the record-label assembled girl group. She acted in several commercials, including one for an issue of Nickelodeon Magazine with the “Space Jam” characters on the cover.

“My dad is a musician and I’ve grown up being involved with music,” Krauss said. “When I quit the girl band I figured, I would just do some studio singing, where you don’t really have to deal with the bullshit.”

Krauss and Miller are currently finishing up their latest album, “Reign of Terror,” which will be released on Feb 21. Before its release, they are embarking on a Florida-only tour with Diplo.

“The tour was conceptualized by Derek and Diplo when they were out having some drinks, and just talking,” Krauss said. “And then it just turned into a real thing. Plus, with a state as big as Florida, a lot of smaller cities get missed.”

Pensacola is often one of those cities, but not this time.

DIPLO AND SLEIGH BELLS
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 6
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $23-$27
INFO: vinylmusichall.com