After trimming the band down from three members to one, the sole Sleep ∞ Over survivor, Stefanie Franciotti, went about translating the sounds of the world around her into cohesive and immersive music. The Texan opens up ever so slightly to Anthony Carew about her personal history and her explorations with sound.
On Forever, the 2011 debut LP for Sleep ∞ Over, Stefanie Franciotti opens the album with a song called Behind Closed Doors. It's an overture of drone and ambience, rolling back the curtain on an album insular, intimate, and dreamy; where echo-strewn, synthy slow-jams rise up from a perpetual mist. “With Behind Closed Doors, [we] wanted it to invite listeners into my room, which is where I make my music,” says Franciotti. “So I recorded the sounds of my room, with the windows open; so you can hear the animals outside, the air conditioner, all these little things.”
Of course, defining Sleep ∞ Over as a bedroom act doesn't accurately represent the music: “I wanted the arrangements to be vast and layered,” she says, of her debut LP. “It was important for me to have a blend of hi-fidelity and degraded tape sounds. We took sounds recorded direct to the desk and transferred them to tape. I recorded layers of field recordings; we took speakers into specific locations – like in an overpass tunnel – played sounds that I'd recorded, and then rerecorded them. I think that instrumentation in a direct way sounds like crap. You need a blend of an ambient sound versus a pure sine-wave; those are actually quite displeasing to the human ear. We're used to hearing layers upon layers upon layers of ambient sound during our daily lives, and a lot of people forget them when they record.”
Franciotti first came at music singing in choirs. “I was raised a Jesuit Catholic,” she offers, “and, I'm an ex-Catholic now, obviously, but I still feel very connected to those modes of singing.”
Her first rock band was a high school riot-grrrl combo, and in college she played in various drone and noise bands, eventually forming freak-folk outfit Silver Pines, whose other members all played in Pure X (née Pure Ecstasy). When they got busy with their own band, Franicotti founded Sleep ∞ Over with ex-members Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown. She declines to talk about why they eventually split (“it's sensitive!” Franciotti says), but, notably, Palazzolo and Brown formed Boy Friend, and described their first EP as a 'breakup record' from their former band.
Since the release of Forever, Franciotti has had to work out how to transform the densely-layered, patiently-assembled, swirling atmospheres into a portable tour version. When playing in the US, she's been able to assemble a band; but, in Europe – and for her maiden Australian tour – she's by herself, wrangling all manner of gear. “I've had some technical meltdowns where I just wished the floor would open up and take me down to hell,” Franciotti laughs. “But I'm a gearhead, and I've been slowly piecing together a set-up where I feel that, if I lose control of my set-up right now I'm a total fucking idiot. I have it on lock, I'm ready to go, I'm in control of the spaceship, and nothing's gonna bring me down.”
Franciotti will arrive in Australia midst work on new Sleep ∞ Over records. “I'm already knee deep in the process,” she says. “I've been working on a more arty record for about a year. It's more outside the box, non-traditional song structure. Wading through that has been more difficult than working on this other album I'm making simultaneously, where I'm writing more direct, hard-hitting songs. I'm still figuring out whether it's going to be one record, or whether it's going to be two records… We shall see.”
Sleep ∞ Over will be playing the following dates:
Friday 1 February - The Liberty Social, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 2 February - Queens Theatre, Adelaide SA
Sunday 3 February - Geisha Bar, Perth WA
Tuesday 5 February - The Square, Sydney NSW