By Tyler Fox (@TylerFox585)
Spacey, ambient, rock often gets overlooked. You should not do that with Atlanta, GA band Sleep Dance. These dudes have talent and have been through a lot as a band and really deserve some recognition. So let’s learn about Sleep Dance.
Sleep Dance started several years ago in Atlanta and ended up needing to take a break. They released a great EP back in 2011 and then took some time to get their heads back together. Once that happened, some fantastic, deep, and thorough sound and lyrics ended up on record.
Their most recent release is Intervals, which came out in October. This is where you need to concentrate: these guys are focused and ready with this release. They have more music coming and tours in the works. This is something you shouldn’t sleep on.
Let’s start with a little back story. How did the band start and how did you get to be where you are today?
I started singing and writing songs around 2008. I had been in rehab for 6 months away from my friends and family. As my mind started to clear up from the effects of my drug use, it was the first time I could clearly convey the thoughts and ideas in my head. My mind for music really changed when I got into finger-picked guitar playing and I was listening to a lot of Fionn Regan and Jose Gonzales at the time and I loved the way they played. I was showing my songs to my friends and anybody who’d listen and our drummer Nick, who I played music with in high school, took interest and started writing drum parts. I was really impressed with his style and the way it added more depth to the songs. It also gave me confidence to have such a great drummer willing to take the time to write drums to my music. We started playing out at coffee shops, really low-key singer songwriter stuff, when one night, Will, who became our bassist, heard us and started playing with us. We added Brad on guitar after a few other guitarists didn’t fit, and we had a band. With Brad our sound changed a lot into more rock/ambient type stuff that was still strongly driven by my songwriting, but we were slowly changing into writing together as one creative force. Nothing has changed too much as far as that goes. We played tons of great shows and tons of bad ones, all of which lead us to where we are now.
The band has this beautiful, spacey, ambient sound with catchy, intricate guitar melodies over top. The sound is unique, but where does the band find influence?
I grew up playing classical piano, so Chopin, Haydn, and other classical composers really shaped my ear for the music I play. Also, Elliott Smith, Bonobo, Explosions in the Sky are more current examples. We love Tycho, Ryan Adams, Talking Heads, Yes, David Bowie, The Smiths, Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, etc.
You guys call Atlanta, GA home. I am always curious to hear about how different scenes are and how the music is supported. What is the story of the Atlanta indie music scene?
We are just getting back into the scene, having played about four shows after about 2 years of being in a lull, but so far it’s been great. Bands like Little Tybee and o’brother really push the scene here forward, not to mention the many other great bands out here. Shows are so much fun and there’s always at least one person who will come and talk to us afterwards and tell us that they really liked it, which, to me, is worth all the work we put in. I love playing with my band and it’s even better when other people like it as well.
What is the best experience the band has had playing a live show (an awesome crowd, going to a new place, playing with a personal hero)?
We just played a New Years Eve show at The Vinyl put on by the band exwhy and it was incredible. Tons of good bands and a great crowd made it a memorable night. We played a sold out show with Surfer Blood a few years back that was really fun, too. I like it when the crowd is right up on the stage and you can’t see the floor. I like feeling connected to people I don’t even know through music that they have never heard. I’m always excited to share songs with anybody who will take the time to listen.
The band had a new release in 2015 titled ‘Intervals’. As far as I can tell, the album self-produced and self-released. What is it like doing the whole thing yourself? Do you feel it is important to the band’s sound to have control over the process?
We recorded the album ourselves in our house. It is, to be honest, pretty hard work, and you’re constantly second guessing whether something really sounds good or if it sounds terrible. After spending a good bit of time mixing and engineering it really starts to play head games with you, which can be an exhausting process. I think any band has as much control as they want wherever they record their music. It was important to us for the album to be real, so most of it is entire takes. It is also important to us to do it on our own because we want to get better at recording as well.
I can’t help but notice that Intervals has a far more mature and evolved sound from the 2011 self-titled release. Obviously there is a four year window between the two, but what did the band notice, if anything, was different in writing and recording this album compared to the 2011 one?
We wrote the album more as a band, and relied less on songs I had already written. We recorded the album ourselves as well, which was different from the first. Our writing matured with the Intervals EP and we were definitely better as a band when we were tracking it.
The release is still new, but what do we have to look forward to from you guys?
Tons of new songs. We play mostly new songs in our live set, which is really exciting for us. We plan on releasing a few singles in a month or so and are constantly working on new songs for an album, which should be in the works in a couple more months. But the main thing is shows. We have a lot booked in Atlanta and Athens and are making that our priority right now.
We’d like to thank Matt Kreisher and Sleep Dance for their time and the photos they provided. Find them at the links provided above as well as on Twitter.