Despite their modern electronic beats, El Paso indie duo Sleepspent’s dreamy sound is also a bit of a throwback to a time when indie-rock was truly independent.
Combining live guitars with shiny synths and singer Austin North’s soaring vocals, he and drummer Josh Mendoza, have created an atmospheric sound that pushes forward while also looking back.
In that spirit of DIY independence of bands from the 1980s and 1990s, Sleepspent has spent the last several years releasing singles and EPs and amassing nine tours.
They even snuck a tour in this year before venues, bars and clubs were shut down by the pandemic. This week they are set to release a new single, “Houses,” on Sept. 4, ahead of their first self-titled full-length album.
El Paso Inc. caught up with the duo about how the pandemic has affected their plans for the year and what’s next. You can find Sleepspent’s music on Spotify and Apple Music and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud at “Sleepspentband.”
Q: How has the pandemic changed your plans for releasing music and performing for 2020?
We haven’t performed since we got back from tour early March. For obvious reasons, we’re concerned for the safety of both the artists and the fans at shows and that has been our main roadblock, plan-wise.
The pandemic delayed the announcement and release of this record, so we’re glad to finally be all back in a place where we can put most of our time and effort into the band.
Q: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Our plans for the rest of the year are obviously mostly online based. We’re putting out a record and a single before that in September, and we’re going to keep active and release content through the end of the year. We have no plans to perform live until next year, and neither Josh nor I believe this pandemic will have calmed down much by then.
Q: What effect is the pandemic having on you as an independent artist?
The biggest effect it has had has been regarding money, honestly. It’s hard to fund things out of our own pockets when we’re not making money from tour, merch sales, etc., all of which are things that can really only be done in person.
We ended up selling the rest of the merch we had online to support the BLM movement instead of keeping it, too. We donated all of the money to the Minnesota Freedom Fund and it delayed the record even longer, but we both feel it was a more important topic for people to be focusing their attention towards.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming self-titled album.
We’ve been working on this record for a while now, I think I wrote the first song for it in January 2019. The idea of the album thematically has to do with my history, and it’s a really personal story to me.
I switch back and forth between very literal lyrics to abstract and metaphorical stuff often to emphasize the overarching mood of confusion often stemming from mental illness, abuse and trauma.
Q: Tell us about the new single, ‘Houses.’
I remember writing the demo for this song in an hour one night. I showed Josh later that night and he loved it and had ideas that ended up as this really weird, cool song. The song started with the drum loop, which I had made a year before on a little sampler and had never used.
Lyrically, it’s probably the most uplifting song on the record. It boils down to, “it’s frustrating not knowing when, but at some point things will get better,” and simultaneously, “it’s up to me to make it better, when I feel ready to.”