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Sleigh Bells

Primavera Sound 2010 Preview

We speak to three of the hottest acts to check out at Barcelona’s San Miguel Primavera Sound Festival

Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year, the 2010 San Miguel Primavera Sound Festival which goes down in the vast concrete Parc Del Forum next to the beach in Barcelona over the May Bank Holiday; already boasts this year’s most impressive musical line-up.  You may already know about those two titans of 90s rock, Pixies and Pavement on co-headlining duty, as well as The XX’s victory lap of their stunning album but beyond that, there’s a veritable wealth of acts to check out, from bands du jour like Surfer Blood, The Drums, Titus Andronicus and Best Coast to indie delights like New Pornographers, The Antlers and No Age and off-the-beaten-track oddities like Geoff Barrow’s intriguing side project, BEAK, Van Dyke Parks, The King Khan & BBQ Show and even a reformed Bis. Dazed spoke to three of the acts we can’t wait to check out – Low, Dum Dum Girls and Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells
Currently emitting a white heat of buzz nearly as pulverizing as the beats on their debut album ‘Treats’, Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells have been making good on the promise of their punishingly loud EP and then some. Backed by coruscating live performances which see Krauss gyrating onstage like a possessed disco-siren, they are quite simply, one of the most exciting bands to have come on the scene in a long time.

Dazed Digital: How have things accelerated for you since signing to MIA’s NEET label and producing a track for her album? What’s inspiring about working with her?
Derek Miller: It’s hard to process. We have been working really hard…made a record, been on the road a couple of months and of course Maya’s kind words are always appreciated and encouraging as we are usually very critical of our own stuff. Working with her was amazing. She is spontaneous and full of incredible ideas. She is quick and really good at creating scenarios where creative “accidents” are likely to happen, which rules.

DD: The stage set-up is pretty simple but it’s super effective and pretty visceral. Where do you think that pure primal energy onstage comes from?
Derek Miller: We like to have fun and jump around like idiots, just reacting to the music. We both just really love dancing!

DD: How do you feel you have grown as performers?
Derek Miller: We are getting slightly more confident but I think we both have a ton of growing to do still. I’ll be trying out a different set up in July that will allow me to trigger sounds live for the songs without guitar. Leaving the stage even for a minute is a bit of a downer.

DD: How did you build on the sound of the EP with the new album Treats? How did you get it to sound so blown out and heavy?
Derek Miller: Lots of EQ’ing and attention to detail. Sometimes I’ll take a signal and run it through a preamp on its own and get it really hot, other times it’s the entire mix. I had a broader range of sounds as well. The demos were made with two cheap drum machines; I had a ton of new options with the album which was refreshing.

DD: How are you dealing with the mounting hype following your band?
Derek Miller: We pay as little attention as possible to that stuff. It’s nice to have people interested and we’re flattered, but reading about it can be toxic.

DD: What are you most looking forward to at Primavera Sound?
Derek Miller: Seeing a few bands… The XX, Ui etc but I think we are playing against Pavement which is a huge bummer for us! We will be playing to the crickets but it should still be rad.

Dum Dum Girls
They may have been borne out of the lo-fi noise underground, but on their sparkling, effervescent debut, ‘I Will Be’, 26 year old Californian Dee Dee Good made the leap from one woman show to recruiting her best friends Jules, Bambi and Sandra Vu to create a buzzsaw pop album that married her love of Jesus and The Mary Chain style feedback distortion to the polished sheen and sassiness of 60’s girl groups.

Dazed Digital: In your music there is a deep love for bands like The Shangri-Las and Supremes as well as bands like Ramones and the album was produced with the industry vet Richard Gottehrer. Were you always into music from the 60s and 70s era?
Dee Dee: 60s music was my first love; it's what I took from my parents. 70s punk was my second, and what I found later on my own.

DD: You started off as a “one-woman garage pop project” but Dum Dum Girls are now a fully-fledged all girl outfit with a definite “last band in town” aura. How important was it to form an all-girl band with a strong identity? Was there any element of homage to past female-centred pop groups like Ronettes?

Dee Dee: There's an obvious homage to girl groups as they are a huge influence on my songwriting and vocal arrangements. Having an all-female band was a deliberate choice because it was something I'd always loved hearing and seeing and wanted to take a stab at it myself. Our energy on-stage and friendship off-stage is something I wouldn't trade for the world.

You have mentioned being very shy as a person.

DD: Has making music been a way to get out of that?
Dee Dee: Luckily, at this point performing is the only time I feel like an extrovert! I channel my anxiety into attitude.

DD: What are you most looking forward to at Primavera Sound?

Dee Dee: Everything!  I've heard from so many that it's heaven on earth.  I'm very proud to be apart of it.

These Duluth, Minnesota slow core merchants may have originally formed with the intent to play the “slowest, darkest music” imaginable, but on their 7th album, ‘The Great Destroyer’, they cranked up the amps to 11 and discovered the joys of speed. They recreate their 2006 classic exclusively at Primavera.

Dazed Digital: You revisited ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’ for Don't Look Back previously. Why did you decide to play ‘The Great Destroyer’ in its entirety?

Alan Sparhawk: The organizers asked for that record in particular. I think this record was very popular in Spain.  I remember touring here for that record and they were great shows. 

DD: Recording the album was pretty tumultuous for the band - you had a breakdown during recording and Zak Sally left after the album was released. Is it not difficult to revisit that place emotionally?
Alan Sparhawk: The music has not brought back anything negative.  We were all very happy with the record when we did it.

DD: You've played with Radiohead at Madison Square Gardens. How do you feel you translate to large festival audiences compared to when you play small intimate shows? Has it translated sonically to making everything sound more immense?

Alan Sparhawk: Playing in big place feels more out of control.  It is like passing notes back and forth in school. All you have is your body. I don’t think we’ll ever be big enough for large concerts.

DD: You also play in two side projects, Black Eyed Snakes and Retribution Gospel Choir - is music-making an escape and also a compulsion for you?
Alan Sparhawk: I think so.  I love playing music and i have been lucky to be around people who love it, too. Music never stops teaching you.

DD: What is the new Low stuff sounding like? When can we expect a new album?
Alan Sparhawk: We have been working on songs, but we have not decided who to work with yet and how we want to do it. All I will say is that most of the new songs are love songs.