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SLEEPY KITTY: Hilary Scott's wide-awake interview with one of the coolest duos around

"Grimy meets shiny in Sleepy Kitty’s music" -- The Boston Globe

By Hilary Scott

COLUMBIA, Mo 10/10/14 (Interview) -- What are the coolest bands around doing these days?

If "cool" means extreme innovation and unique creativity, St. Louis' Sleepy Kitty is undoubtedly cool. 

The duo's album Projection Room was released this year, and while tirelessly touring to promote it, they also run a successful screen printing company featuring one-of-a-kind designs, Sleepy Kitty Arts

"Good fun!" says NPR's Bob Boilen about Sleepy Kitty's innovative sound.   "Bright, colorful, and relatively analog, with leanings towards the Ramones...if Brian Eno had taken up the production."    

I had the chance to interview Paige Brubeck, part one of this fantastic duo.  Evan Sult is part two. 

Hilary Scott (HS):   What are the highlights of the year so far for you, particularly with your recently released album?

Paige Brubeck (PB):    We worked with the St. Louis Science Center's Planetarium to do a laser show listening party for our record release.    It's also been fun working on videos for this record.   We just released a largely hand animated video for our song "Don't You Start."   It feels great to have that out!


HS:   What have you enjoyed about being based in the Midwest?

PB:   I grew up in the Midwest so it's always been home to me.  Evan has lived in the Midwest since 2002.  I like how many cities you have access to with just a day's travel.   It's less than 6 hours to Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Memphis, Des Moines, Madison, and Cinicinnati from St. Louis.    Plus there's a bunch of college towns even closer like Columbia, and Rolla MO.   It's a great place to be located for a touring band.  You can build audiences in a lot of different places that aren't hard to reach.


HS:   Has the increasing popularity of digitized music, and/or the change in the way venues operate affected you as touring artists?   Do you find yourselves focusing more on creative merchandise? 

PB:   I think that there is definitely a reason to go on tour and show up in person – as a musician and an audience member.   In theory, you can discover new bands all the time through the Internet, on band camp and Spotify and whatnot, and that does happen sometimes.  But in reality, I still discover new music all the time by playing and going to shows.  

Merchwise, I think for a lot of people buying something from the band is a way to say, "I liked your music, I had a good time tonight, and I want to you to do well."   It's about having something to hang on to from that night.


HS:    What are your favorite cities/types of venues to play?

PB:   Favorite venues, I'd have to say a well run DIY/DIT (do it together) space tops all.   Lofts, basements, houses shows – all good places for rock and roll, in my opinion. 

Basically though, if a space feels good and intentional I'm into it.   I feel like there's been a trend lately in venues to really strip down to basically a black rectangle with a row of LED stage lights.   A lot of times there's not even a bar with barstools at some places, and the overall atmosphere is pretty lackluster.  I don't get it at all.

I feel like a good venue needs lots of different points of engagement, and I'm not talking about TVs on mute or arcade games, but you know, little artistic details that you notice when you're sitting at the bar for awhile, nooks and crannies for people to tuck away into, a place to have a conversation (that's not a restroom) but where you can still hear the band.

The Empty Bottle in Chicago is a great version of this, and The Frequency in Madison and PJ's Lager House in Detroit are some excellent examples of clubs that have mastered the club vibe/band watchability ratio.


HS:   You also do screen printing.   Which artistic endeavors (musical or visual) interested you first? How do your various creative projects work together?

PB:   As long as I can remember, I've been into both visual and musical art.   I guess I thought of myself as a "visual artist" first, but I've been actively writing and playing music since I was 13.   Now the two feed into each other all the time.  They are separate, but constantly informing each other.   It's symbiotic, like the "Don't You Start" video (above). 

I like jumping back and forth from visual art to music.  If you get stuck on one, you can always go the other.


HS:   Silly question: Favorite road food?

PB:   Eating healthy is tough on tour. Love's and Wawa have a decent amount of fresh food in the travel plaza/truck stop department, so we end up there.   We usually hard boil eggs and stock up on [healthy snacks] when we leave for tour.  

We always try to find good healthy and vegetarian food in each city.   We love Park + Vine in Cincinnati and Cafe Gratitude in Kansas City.

SLEEPY KITTY RAVES AND REVIEWS:

Boston Globe

Riverfront Times

Nylon

Lo-Fi St. Louis

Entertainment Weekly

National Public Radio (NPR)

 
-- Singer/songwriter Hilary Scott Gennaro (better known as Hilary Scott) is already drawing raves for Freight Train Love, her next record due out in November.  

"Scott has a sharp pen, a smoking voice and more soul than a white girl sounding like a white girl should have," writes Midwest Record editor/publisher Chris Spector.  

 

 

 

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