Best Musical Expatriate - 2010
Derek Miller of Sleigh Bells
A young Derek Miller, then the guitarist and one of the main creative forces of pan-South Florida hardcore band Poison the Well, told New Times in 2003: "We get a lot of grief from guys who just want to hear screaming, but you reach a point where you've said everything you can say with a scream. As far as I'm concerned, singing is endless. I can hear someone sing forever." Soon after parting ways with PTW, which just wouldn't move past all of that screaming, he began his search for the perfect singer. He slummed around for a while, trying to get a new musical project off the ground. At one point, he tried his hand in California, then moved back, and eventually, like way too many promising local musicians and artists, heard the siren songs of Brooklyn. That's where he found vocalist Alexis Kraus, who, oddly enough, also has Florida roots and used to sing in a teen girl group. Together they formed Sleigh Bells. The rise was meteoric. Just one example: They took the top spot on New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones's list of best albums of 2009. Never mind they'd released only a handful of MP3s at that point. To complete their debut album, Treats, they signed to M.I.A.'s record label. It was met with critical acclaim and even cracked the Billboard Top 40. While the band still reps Florida, we'll always secretly wish that the two Floridians had actually, you know, met and formed here. We just hope that, unlike way too many Brooklyn-based bands, they don't forget South Florida on their touring schedule.