Derek Miller's Evolution: From Poison the Well to Sleigh Bells | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Derek Miller's Evolution: From Poison the Well to Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells strikes a nifty balance. The Brooklyn based duo creates experimental cacophonies, yet somehow the music is instantly accessible. New Times caught up with Derek Miller, the band's guitarist and producer. He explained this dichotomy, "It's my way of reconciling all the records I love. I grew up with my mom's influence of Michael and Janet Jackson, George Michael, and Madonna, then I got into the hardcore scene, and then you throw in Alexis (Krauss, Sleigh Bell's singer) who comes from an R&B background -- who did demos for top 40 records -- and I guess this is the sound that spits out."

No stranger to South Florida, Sleigh Bells has played here several times in the past few years, and already plans to return to Miami in the Springtime, after this week's November 2 show at the Culture Room. This is no accident. Locally bred Miller said growing up in South Florida influenced him "in a thousand miniscule ways," noting "its melting pots of culture and the dynamic of the West side of I-95 being completely different from the East."

See also: Q&A: Sleigh Bells Guitarist Derek Miller's Musical Identity Was Forged in the Fires of SoFla

Born in Pahokee, Florida, at the age of five, Miller suffered violent asthma attacks from the raining ashes of burning sugar cane fields. To remedy this, his family moved closer to Jupiter, near the ocean. Miller focused on music and joined the hardcore band, Poison the Well. This band of five guys couldn't be more different than the Sleigh Bells' partnership. "The make up of Sleigh Bells is no accident. When I left Poison the Well, the scene was stifling. We had 7 or 8 hard working guys living in a van together."

In this less divisive environment, Miller and Krauss have been incredibly prolific. Their latest release, titled Bitter Rivals, is their third album in a little over three years. Miller explains the quantity of their output: "I'm a music fanatic, and I lost my father in a motorcycle accident. I don't believe in wasting time, since I know this can all be over in a snap of the fingers."