Alex Kandel, female vocalist for Sleeper Agent, spent 15 minutes speaking with the CU Independent. Sleeper Agent opens for Fun. this Friday at the Fox Theater for a sold-out crowd.
CUIndependent: So I heard you got started with Sleeper Agent after singing Adele covers at a coffee shop.
Alex Kandel: Yeah, I would do just a mixture of covers and original songs I wrote. My friend would play guitar and I would sing. We did that for a few months, and that’s when I met Tony [Smith] and Justin [Wilson] and the rest of them and started playing with them instead.
CUI: Where did the name come from?
Kandel: Sleeper Agent comes from “Battlestar Galactica.” Tony just always thought it would be a cool band name, so he kept it in the back of his head.
CUI: You’ve only been together since 2010 and since then you’ve played Coachella, the Weezer Cruise and with Cage the Elephant. Do you guys still feel pretty small despite your success?
Kandel: Yeah, I think in the grand scheme of things we do. Some of the best advice I ever got was from our producer and he said, “You’ll never make it.” What he means is even when you get all of these successful things under your belt, it’s never gonna feel like enough, because you’re always going to want to grow and be bigger. The best thing is that there’s always going to be something to strive for. There’s always a challenge. I think we’ll always feel sort of small no matter what.
CUI: How did you get involved in this band of all boys, and what’s it like touring with your friends?
Kandel: We just knew each other through the Bowling Green, Ky. music scene. Before we started playing together, I had to be initiated into the group by just hanging out and seeing if I could hang with them, because there’s a huge age difference too. They were a little worried so I had some proving of myself to do. It’s great. I mean sometimes we butt heads. I would say we’re more of a family then a bunch of friends. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes we really get on each other’s nerves, but for the most part we are really well-adjusted on how to interact with each other. But we also know how to bug each other when we want to.
CUI: Do you like playing festivals or venues better?
Kandel: I think it’s good to have a mix of both. I mean, I like festivals just because they’re like an event, like this one thing. Sometimes it gets monotonous playing venue after venue. But I also love playing those kind of shows because you find some amazing characters, and they really are different every night. It’s fun when you end up hitting some of the same places again for a second time. In Kansas City, we played there last year, with Cage [the Elephant], and now we’re playing with Fun. and that will be really cool to go back and remember. Whenever you’re in the same environment, playing a show a whole year later, it really puts things into perspective as to how far you’ve come and grown as a band.
CUI: What does “Celebrasion” mean?
Kandel: We all lived in a house together when we were writing the record. So at first, it was like we were at a party where everything shifts. Everyone was happy at the time, but now there’s this weird dark thing that kind of creeps in. It feels like, “Hey, it’s four o’clock in the morning; why are we still awake? This isn’t fun anymore,” so that’s what Celebrasion means. It’s like “abrasion,” like a bruise that’s celebrating.
CUI: What is the music scene like in Bowling Green, Ky.?
Kandel: It’s very small, very tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone. Before, there were only a few venues to play, but there’s a little bit more springing up now, which is cool. There’s definitely a very healthy, but undercover art scene in general.
CUI: What would you say Sleeper Agent’s influences are?
Kandel: We have a crazy amount of influences, but our sound as a whole comes from the desire to write really good pop songs like The Ronettes back in the day, and we love Jay Reatard, and right now, Cloud Nothings, which is a new band that we’re really into.
CUI: Do you guys all write your songs together?
Kandel: Tony usually comes up with the bare bones of the song, and usually he’ll spit it at me and I’ll tell him my opinion about it or say, “It kinda sounds like you’re saying this, even though you’re only humming and it’d be cool if we said this or that,” and then take it to the whole band. Then it kind of evolves from there.
CUI: What’s next after the tour?
Kandel: Probably more touring. Hopefully getting overseas soon and getting the record over there for a little bit and getting ready for album two. We already have close to thirty songs, at least at the beginning process. We might be doing an EP, we’ve talked about it at least – maybe doing an EP between record one and record two. Those are the very vague plans we have.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Anne Robertson at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org.