Fidgeting in her seat outside of Brew Coffee House in Fort Lauderdale, Sophie Sputnik
checks her text messages with one hand and holds a Camel light in the other. Her dog Astro, a terrier mix of some kind, paces beneath the table and mimics her energy. Meanwhile, her Killmama band mate, Rob Kingsley sits perfectly still, except that he's swirling the straw of his iced coffee.
The sky is heavy with the threat of rain, when finally Sputnik looks up, waving the mobile device in her hand with disbelief, "I thought this guy was gay, but I guess he's not?" Kingsley laughs, and this seems to be the dynamic of the pair. Sputnik is the more outspoken of the two, while Kingsley seems more than happy to let her take the spotlight. As if for him, she is the finest form of entertainment.
The Deerfield Beach duo met early in 2012 while working for a well known computer store in Fort Lauderdale, and have been nearly inseparable ever since.
"When I moved back to Florida after spending some time up in Pennsylvania, I drafted a fictional resume to help me get a job. Robbie and I just got along from the start," Sputnik divulges. Kingsley is right behind her to finish the thought, "I was a quiet loner type and she was kind of the loner type too, so we got along, though we never really talked much."
She continues, "Yeah, then I got fired, fell off the deep end and we went a bit without seeing each other. Then somehow we managed to reconnect, and when we did, Robbie would just show up at my apartment and share music with me. While he was jamming out these songs, I would hear these beats in my head."
Obviously a woman with the nervous energy to power a small city, Sputnik says she's always been a "tapper," always tapping her fingers or feet, slapping her thighs in moments of uncomfortable silences, which has pretty much been the key to her success in the bold musician she's become.
"I only started playing drums so that Robbie and I could make music together. When we decided to go check out a drum kit, I realized that maybe they weren't as hard to play as I originally thought. Once I got going, it only took us about three days until we were putting songs together."
Both band members share a fearlessness and sense of adventure, and it drives Killmama.
"We didn't have a place to practice, so we started playing out almost immediately," Kingsley explains. "Not that it was any good. Honestly, it's only been until recently that we feel like the sound is coming together, but we used those shows to practice, and at some point our audience must have thought we were charming enough to sit tight and listen, even when we were struggling."
With Sputnik's influences in blues and soul and Kingsley's spanning alternative and classic rock, it's no wonder that their soulful grunge sound comes easily to them.
When asked what piece of gear or equipment most aids in the simple stripped down sound they provide, Sputnik is without hesitation, "the Orange Fuzz, whatever... The amp he uses. Because it is just the two of us, it is important to have the right amp to shine through." Meanwhile, Kingsley sees things differently. "Well, I was going to say the kick drum, because it's just the heartbeat, the backbone of Killmama."
"It's different from a lot of other music. I used to play a lot of solo folk stuff with my guitar, but that sort of energy is hard to maintain. It becomes so contained and motionless. I have always felt like I had more inside of me. And being able to play the drums while Robbie tackles the guitar, allows me to explore those things," Sputnik adjusts in her chair and motions toward her partner in music.
Sputnik and Kingsley seem to be able to communicate without much effort and mostly without actual words. There are false starts. The word "like" followed by hand motions or facial expressions seemingly have more conversational meaning to them than the rest of us.