October 17, 2013 11:34 AM

TWELV got the chance to chat with Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult of the band "Sleepy Kitty" to discuss muses, life in their favorite cities, Robert Rauschenberg, and welding.

How did you two meet?

Paige: We met at a party in Chicago. We were both there with friends who knew a ton of other friends - we both didn't know anyone at the party.

Evan: I heard her say something about how she should stop smoking. I heard her voice. I stood up and turned around and said "You know what, you should stop smoking right now". I was face to face with a really cute girl. And she just gave her cigarettes away. That was it. We spent the rest of the night just talking and hanging out. I was amazed it worked!

Paige:  Also, I'd been checking out Evan at the party. I could tell he was a drummer.

Evan: So we kind of casually dated for a while. Then paused. Then picked up again a little later. Not through any disagreements. More because she was really young. I couldn't get comfortable with it. I felt like a thief in the night.

Paige: We're a couple now. We're not married but we actually made a ceremony we wrote ourselves called a 'Welding'. We wanted something that anyone could do that was non denominational, not tied to any religion or gender. Something that was non discriminatory and specific to the relationship we wanted. We made up a ritual, a legal document and a name and a place. We're partners. The ring turns out to be a great symbol. We were like, we want something like a wedding, but not a wedding. Something like a ring, a symbol. But you can't beat it. But yeah, they're on our right hands. So we're not really married. Even though the woman who does our taxes says, “You really should consider it. It would make your lives much easier.” Maybe if congress and everything keeps going the way they're going, we'll consider marriage. I can't imagine being married. Even though both our parents are happily married. This is the first Welding we've heard of. We had relatives Googling it. Asking what gift to bring or what to wear. We were like, it's whatever you want. Our friends were taking bets on how long the ceremony was going to last - five minutes or two hours. Anyone can do it. You can make up your own life.

How did the name Sleepy Kitty come about?

Paige: When we first started making music together it was a fun side project. And my friend was visiting from London and he was staying with me for a week in Chicago. We started working on a sound piece together and then Evan came. We started working on this together, and the three of us finished the project. We needed to call the file something to be able to find it in iTunes. So we decided on Sleepy Kitty, because the other thing the friend was showing us was an adorable video of a cat falling asleep. He said whenever he was sad he would just click on sleepy kitty and just play it over and over. We just thought, that should be the name of this band. And then a year later, we were still making music together and we just thought, "I guess we're a band called Sleepy Kitty".

Evan: We were making posters together and printing t-shirts. It was easier to have a collective name for the two of us. It became easier to have a word that meant both of us than to try to sort out who did what. Plus we already had this phrase. I sometimes have mixed feelings on the name just because I think it sounds a little cuter than our music is. But then people show us pictures of their cats and I'm like, that's great.

Paige: One of the best part about being in a band called Sleepy Kitty, is people are like, "Oh Sleepy Kitty. Here's my sleepy kitty." We're just great! That's awesome! There's a lot of cat lovers out there.

Why don’t you tell me about your new album Projection Room and how it differs from Infinity City?

Evan: The biggest difference I would say is Infinity City tracked our progress from Chicago into St. Louis, and Projection Room is more like our internal lives “projected.” Some of the stuff we’ve been studying in our personal lives, Paige comes from art school, and I come from liberal arts school, but a ways back, so kind of more freelance life. And so we kind of put ourselves through a course of study of film and art, and stuff. We’ve been keeping real busy, learning, checking out things we know we like and looking at things we haven’t gotten to yet. And Projection Room is the explosion of that.

I read in your biography that Robert Rauschenberg is very influential for you both. How exactly does he inspire you?

Paige: When Sleepy Kitty began, it was a visual project and a musical project, and we started with screen-printing. So I feel visually, we are inspired by Rauschenberg. But it is also just the way that all the different textures and layers and how things become beautiful and harmonious from chaos. I feel like in our early recordings there are a lot of pop culture references and “hooks” but also some really abrasive sounds; I feel like it’s kind of a sonic collage in that way too.

Evan: His work is just so beautiful, the colors are so great, the things that shouldn’t work together, just look so great, so multi-media; anyone who wouldn’t be inspired by that I wouldn’t relate to much.

How does St. Louis and New York City excite you as artists?

Paige: I would say, one of the things we really like about St. Louis, was when we first moved there-cheap rent. It’s a city that’s still a city with a good music and art scene, but a little more affordable, and out of the direct hub-bub because it is a good place to get work done. In Chicago it is more expensive and you worry more about paying rent then making your art.

Evan: I would say we value St. Louis most when we are in and out of St. Louis. Our street is called Cherokee Street and it has really gone from being this wild zone, and now it is really the artistic hub of St. Louis, which is really cool. It really came into being right as we showed up. And it’s great to be bringing stuff back to the city, that’s one of the reasons I do Eleven Magazine: I get to tell people from St. Louis about bands outside of St. Louis and vice versa. It’s meant to be kind of a place for people in St. Louis to learn about, to be an exchange with the rest of the country. But I feel like when we spend too much time in St Louis without leaving, we start to feel a little hemmed in by the specifics of the city. And I feel like our role in a way is to kind of translate between places, originally between St. Louis and Chicago, and increasingly between New York and St. Louis. It’s a long drive, but then we’re in the middle of another context.

Paige: I also think in New York there are constantly people coming and leaving. And in St. Louis there are a lot more people who were born and raised there. So a lot of musicians have played in each other’s projects; there’s kind of a family-ness about St. Louis that is really neat where you’ll have people who have been watching each other’s careers for 15 years, and you see less of that in New York or Chicago, but then you see different things, so it’s an interesting comparison and how they effect us.

Who are your muses as individuals or as a band?

Evan: I think it is safe to say that we became each other’s muse really quickly and really intensely when we got together. We were both in different bands and looked at each other to be a release from the other bands, and as we look back on it now, we realize how quickly our creative meet-up worked. We kind of kicked ourselves out of our own bands; we co-Yoko-ed. There was just somebody with who we suddenly agreed really intensely a lot of the time, which lead us to crystallize other dissatisfactions. So when we started, we were feeding a lot off the energy we were giving each other. I mean, we work our day jobs together, we tour together, we live together, that’s all really in the same building, and productively, and it’s not just that we are forced together. If we spend an hour apart there’s so much to report!

Paige: For Sleep Kitty, I would say cities-that’s what we keep writing about. I didn’t really try to, but when I look at our song list, it’s a lot about neighborhoods or like going to a place. We have a song called “New York City Really Has It All” but it is actually about Chicago, it’s a kind of like a letter to a friend who moved from Chicago to New York City. We have a new song on our new record called “Cherokee Street” and we have a song we are working on called “718” about someone moving to Brooklyn. So we have all these songs about people moving to different cities.

Evan: The first album was called Infinity City I think because we had just moved from Chicago to St. Louis and I had lived in Seattle for a decade before that, and then we were suddenly touring a lot, and you find yourself in Atlanta being reminded about places in New York or St. Louis, and then you go somewhere like New Orleans, where you don’t recognize anything at all, and we’re just still really smitten with the cities that inspire us. New York has been really exciting, this is my third serious band, and this is the first time I feel like I’m looking the city straight in the face, and not just trying to park the van, haha. It’s been really exciting to kind of take on New York.

Paige: The fact that we’ve been playing here a lot over the past year or two, we’re getting to know Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, and it’s nice to have “our” places and carving out spaces for ourselves. And working with a team in New York is another reason, as if there weren’t enough!

By Sarah Granetz and Lucy Rogers

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