This past March, Sleigh Bells shared a SXSW stage with up-and-coming Chicago rapper-singer Tink. "I immediately thought she was incredibly badass," says Sleigh Bells singer Alexis Krauss. "She's like a firecracker – she has an incredible stage presence and charisma."
You can feel that energy on "That Did It," the track Sleigh Bells cut with Tink when Red Bull – which had sponsored the previous showcase – put the artists together in a New York studio this June. Hear an exclusive stream of that song right here. (The song, out now via Red Bull Sound Select, is also available for purchase on iTunes.)
"We weren't contractually obligated to put something out, to make that clear, so I didn't anticipate anything actually coming of it," says Sleigh Bells producer-guitarist Derek E. Miller. "But I figured, 'What the hell?'"
Miller and Krauss took the opportunity to revisit a discarded 2013 song that had the working title "Infinite Power." "It was just sitting on my hard drive," Miller says of the original track. "There was a spark there, but it was so sugary. It put me to sleep." They tried throwing some distortion on the track's major-key acoustic chords but still felt unsatisfied. "You know the cliché about trying to put lipstick on a pig?" says Miller. "It was like fucking throwing dirt on the prom queen or something."
That all changed after Tink got to work. "I sat with her in the booth for a while just talking about what the theme of the song was," says Krauss. "She was furiously jotting down notes, and I stepped out." When she ducked back in a few minutes later, Tink had written the verse that opens the song. "I was like, 'OK, cool. You know what the fuck you're doing,'" Krauss says. "It was a joy working with somebody who was that good and that fast."
Adds Miller, "Once Alexis and Tink started playing off of each other, their chemistry redeemed the whole thing for me. Suddenly I fell back in love with the track."
The song's title and hook come from an unrehearsed ad-lib that Tink used during the recording process. "We were getting her monitor levels set up, and she was asking for more vocal as the track was playing, and she said, 'Oh, that did it. That did it,'" says Miller. Adds Krauss: "Derek and I looked at each other, and it was this total aha moment."
Miller is particularly proud of the song's middle section. "I'm sad to say this, because we have three records out, but I think this is the first really, really great bridge that we've ever written," he notes. "That's the sweet spot of the song for me."
Beyond this track, the duo say they're working on lots of new material, but it's too early to think about a full-length follow-up to 2013's Bitter Rivals. "We're feeling really good about the future," says Krauss. "I've never felt more confident and excited about the music that we're making."
And the party keeps going: On November 30th, Tink is playing a show at the Palladium in Los Angeles as part of the Red Bull Sound Select Presnets: 30 Days in L.A. festival.