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Sneaks is the minimalist post-punk project of Washington, D.C.-based musician Eva Moolchan. Finding a middle ground between ghostly indie pop and spaced-out hip-hop, Sneaks' music is a witty blend of chanted or spoken-word vocals over a bed of lo-fi bass, drum machine, and minimal keyboards. Her music was at its most skeletal on her first self-titled cassette, released in 2014 and expanded and reissued as Gymnastics in 2015. The simplicity of the tracks was reflected in their brevity, with only one of the songs running over two minutes. 2017's It's a Myth bulked up Sneaks' sound without abandoning her stripped-down aesthetic, while later releases, Highway Hypnosis and Happy Birthday, saw her step forward into a more ambitious approach, incorporating a broader range of keyboard sounds and samples without betraying the atmospheric tone of her formative work.
Moolchan was born and raised in Silver Springs, Maryland; her mother, originally from Ethiopia, was an accountant, while her father was a musician who gave Eva her first guitar when she was two years old. Moolchan attended a high school in Washington, D.C., where the student body was dominated by the children of politicians and diplomats, and she felt out of place until she struck up a friendship with Francy Graham, who was plugged into the D.I.Y. punk scene in the nation's capital. Through Graham (who would later join Chain & the Gang), Moolchan met Katie Alice Greer, and they formed a two-piece band called Shitstains, with Moolchan on guitar and vocals and Greer on drums. Moolchan went on to participate in a noise project called Blood and played bass in Young Trynas before striking out on her own as Sneaks, which she launched during her downtime from studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.
After recording a handful of songs, with Moolchan's lyrics accompanied by bass and drum machine, Greer (who had gone on to become a member of Priests) arranged for the Sneaks material to be released on an eight-song cassette through the independent Sister Polygon imprint in 2014. With the addition of two songs (which boosted the running time to a little more than 14 minutes), the self-titled cassette was retitled Gymnastics and issued on LP by the French label Danger Records in 2015. After critics embraced Gymnastics, Sneaks signed with Merge Records in the U.S., which reissued her debut in September 2016. Moolchan's second Sneaks album, It's a Myth, was released by Merge in March 2017 and ran a relatively expansive 18 minutes. Like the debut, the sophomore effort was dominated by bass and drum machine, as well as occasional keyboards, but it sounded more ambitious and richer than Gymnastics both musically and lyrically. After extensive live work (including a tour opening for leftist dance-punks Downtown Boys), Sneaks returned in January of 2019 with Highway Hypnosis, which played up the trance-like qualities of Moolchan's music while adding a greater variety of sounds and rhythms to the accompaniment. Released just one year later, the exploratory Happy Birthday continued this trend of expansion and reunited her with engineer/producer Carlos Hernadez. ~ Timothy Monger & Mark Deming
- Washington, D.C.
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