Music wasn't a choice for Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss. Growing up with a musician father, and playing with him at various New Jersey spots, was her introduction to her passion. In her eyes, music was never a career you mapped out. "Now, I obviously think of it more as a lifelong thing," she tells me before Sleigh Bells' Meadows set.
With four albums under their belt and one EP, Sleigh Bells have proved it pays off to be loud. Their debut album, Treats, explodes with the cockiness of schoolyard recklessness, while their subsequent albums find balance with youthful maturity. The secret, as Krauss tells me, is having someone who challenges and motivates you. "When you start thinking the way pop record labels want you to think, you really sabotage what makes you sound unique, to begin with," she says. "[Sleigh Bells] has had a lot of failures, we've had a lot of setbacks, but I feel like we've found a place right now with our music and our voices that feels really good."
It's a gift when the audience really vibes with what you make. Krauss is upfront about where Sleigh Bells have shined, and where they haven't. For her, it's not so much about playing to the crowds' wants, but what feels right for the band in the moment. "If what you're putting out is something you're proud of, if you didn't compromise yourself to make it, if you didn't make it for the wrong reasons, or put it out because someone else said you should put it out—if you're right with that music, it honestly doesn't fucking matter if critics like it or dislike it," she says. True fans are those that want to see a band grow and are sympathetic to an artist's vision; being put in a box is detrimental to anyone's growth. Why should we ask musicians to do the same?
Krauss tells me new material is coming, but won't say much else on the topic. "The key is quality," she says with a wink. "There are no rules to releasing new stuff." And even if there were rules, Sleigh Bells would smash through them with their infinity guitars, anyway.